Category Archives: Uncategorized

Al Interviews Logan Lynn | American Musician, Writer, Producer, Filmmaker, TV Personality, Mental Health Advocate & LGBT Activist.

If you haven’t yet checked out my podcast TheDepressionFiles.com/podcast, please do! I interview men who have struggled with depression and/or other mental illnesses. This is my 56th episode! I publish a new episode every other Sunday. You’ll hear interviews with an incredibly diverse group of men, from an NFL offensive linesman, to a black male advocate, to an ER surgeon, to military vets, first responders, a Hollywood producer and many more. You’ll learn about illnesses such as major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, dissociative identity disorder, bipolar 1 & 2, borderline personality disorder and more! Register/Subscribe now and don’t miss a single episode!

My latest episode is an interview with Logan Lynn, American musician, writer, producer, filmmaker, TV personality, mental health advocate, and LGBT Activist (recorded 9-9-19). Logan shares his incredible story of surviving childhood sexual abuse and the impact it had on his entire family. He describes being outed by a therapist after sharing with him that he was gay. Logan also shares how the music scene and his early popularity fueled his 16-year addiction of cocaine, alcohol, and crack. It wasn’t until he suffered a TIA (a mini-stroke) and entered a program specifically for dual diagnoses (addiction & mental health) that he was able to finally become healthy.

Logan received the prestigious 2017 Award of Excellence from the National Council for Behavioral Health for his advocacy work in music, TV, film and community, and for founding the Keep Oregon Well campaign to fight the stigma of mental illness. In 2018 Kink FM named him one of The Portland 50, honoring the people who “dreamt, built and championed the innovation, growth and uniqueness of Portland”. His “My Movie Star” is currently up for three Grammy Awards.

You can find out more about Logan on his website. You’ll also find him on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram.

If you enjoyed this episode, please click the ‘like’ button. Also, please take a moment to comment and rate the show on iTunes. Finally, don’t miss an episode! Click the subscribe/follow button now!

In addition to The Depression Files podcast, you can find Al’s blog at TheDepressionFiles.com. There, you can also find out how to work with Al as a coach or schedule him for a public speaking event. You will also find Al on Twitter @allevin18.

 

Guest Post: The Language Problem in Mental Illness: A Threat to Progress, Compassion, and Understanding

“Of course everyone has challenges in life, but not everyone has a mental illness. That shit is hard.”

I wish I could remember the name (or at least user name) of the wise soul who fired that rebuttal into the Twitterverse in response to one of the many attempts that I’ve witnessed to downplay, oversimplify, or even reframe another person’s lived experience with mental illness. Mental illness is different for everybody, but what I like to call “the language problem” makes is very difficult to move past, what I thought, was this fairly self-evident and uncontroversial statement.

Let me explain.

The language problem in mental illness is very much an extension of humans’ imprecise use of language in general. Definitions and intent are necessary to construct meaning; otherwise, communication between becomes challenging, if not downright impossible. This problem is compounded when discussing mental illness, because it is hard to find another illness where this problem is encountered. Even in this introduction, when I describe mental illness as an illness, there will be people who challenge it. Indeed, a person can have poor mental health and not have a mental illness, but what delineates the two? Is it symptom duration? Quantity? Severity? The presence or absence of a formal diagnosis? The person’s choice (or lack thereof) to identify with the mental health community? The four quadrant model of mental health is based on this very distinction.

I define the language problem, at its base, as the ability for two people, both describing a poor mental health experience, to use the same words and terms, diagnostic or otherwise, and have remarkably different experiences – and both be right. Using DSM-IV-TRcriteria for Major Depressive Disorder, for example, Zimmerman et al. (2015) showed that there are 227 possible ways to meet the symptom criteria for diagnosis – though only170 combinations occurred in practice.[1]I am not a diagnostician, and do not believe that the DSM is the only way to categorize mental disorders; but using this one example, how close are we to describing depression, let alone understanding, adequately treating, or curing it, if you can be diagnosed with it in 170 (227) different ways? (As an aside, I suspect the wide variation in antidepressant treatment response rate stems from the equally wide variation in symptoms subsumed under the overarching construct of ‘depression,’ but I digress.)

I’ve always admired the work of Therese Borchard, and in one of my favourite pieces on the subject, she  writes: “I wish people knew that depression doesn’t happen in a vacuum and is part of an intricate web of biological systems (nervous, digestive, endocrine, respiratory), that depression is about the gut as well as the brain, the thyroid and the nerves, that we would have better health in this country if we approached depression with a holistic view.”[2]

Stated another way, your depression is not my depression. Similarly, your anxiety is not my anxiety. Your schizophrenia is not my schizophrenia. There was a time when all mental illness was classified as either “hysteria” or “melancholy.” At least we’ve added a few more terms to our vernacular since 6500 BC. At least we’ve become a little more precise.

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body; theoretical physicist Michio Kaku even called it “the most complicated object in the known universe.” In 2019, we all have to get along with the language we have, until something more precise comes along to aid in our understanding and treatment. In the mean time, be compassionate, and seek understanding. Progress will follow. It’s already happening.

And just remember: everyone has challenges, but not everyone has a mental illness. That shit is hard.

[1]https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.09.007

[2]https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-depression/

Derek Chechak (August 2019)

Dr. Derek Chechak is a manager employed with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Ontario, and a sessional instructor with the School of Social Work at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. He is a Registered Social Worker, having earned his BA in Psychology (2008), Bachelor of Social Work (Honors; 2008), and Master of Social Work (2009) degrees from King’s University College at Western University, and his PhD in Social Work (2015) from Memorial University.

Dr. Chechak`s experience includes over ten years of experience in community-based health care, specialized mental health care including forensic social work and assertive community treatment, work in the developmental services sector, and a clinical leadership role for an employee assistance provider. He is a published peer-reviewed author in the areas of workplace violence, workplace wellness, workplace health services, social work value conflicts, alcohol regulation, and mental health case management.

Dr. Chechak is also the sole proprietor of #FixWorkFirst, a consulting service that helps employers foster workplace wellness using a comprehensive foundation based on workplace health assessments, a multifaceted approach to addressing areas of concern, and a focus on psychological health and safety.

He is also a person with lived mental health experience, who openly shares his experiences living with treatment-resistant depression and chronic anxiety since 2006.

Guest Post: It’s Manly to Address Emotions

Men out there: when was the last time you checked in with yourself? No, I don’t mean the last time you had a guy’s night out or spent time in your man cave; I mean really looked inward and assessed your emotional health. In my professional practice, I have found that men tend to skip this incredibly valuable practice and, in doing so, threaten not only their emotional health but also the health of their relationships. Repressed emotions can lead to self-dissatisfaction, relationship turmoil, and even the destruction of relationships with infidelity. To avoid these pitfalls, men can make use of techniques of mindfulness and selfishness to improve their relationships and gain more satisfaction in their daily lives.

Men and the Tendency to Suppress Emotions

One of the root causes I have discovered that can make men disconnect from their relationships is avoiding or ignoring their emotions. Wanting to be the stereotypically strong figure in the relationship, these men often work not to tap into how they feel and what they want, but rather to simply make the relationship work. Some are even afraid to share how they feel because they think it is not their place in a relationship to do so. When these feelings are not addressed, though, the self is left to find other ways to cope. It’s a slippery slope: some small, unresolved emotions can easily snowball into frustration and hostility because, no matter how hard you try to tuck those feelings away, they won’t disappear until they are acknowledged or addressed. Without the appropriate processing or response, these feelings are left to fester and can ultimately result in a disconnect from the relationship, growing animosity with a partner, or even a wandering eye to an affair with someone else that seems “easier” than solving issues at home.

Top Signs this Suppression is Occurring

Having worked with a number of patients grappling with these issues over the years, I’ve uncovered some telltale symptoms of an untapped well of feelings bubbling behind some men’s facades. One is that they make statements that hint at deeper anxiety underneath the surface. Phrases like “my wife complains about my Sunday golf games every week, but I don’t let it bother me,” tell me that such comments actually do bother the patient but that he is unaware of how to resolve them. Another sign is that a patient will displace his personal or relationship frustrations onto things or places. When a patient tells me, “I cannot stand our couples’ Florida vacations – there are too many people,” I tend to dig deeper and often discover that his dislike is not of Florida or vacation; it is the stress that he feels in his relationship that he is projecting onto these trips. As with other relationships, it is much easier to cope when we can assign our frustrations to things or places rather than the people we love. A final sure sign that my male patients aren’t getting to the root of their problems is when they qualify every statement they make. “I find my wife’s attitude a little annoying during conflicts,” should not be shrugged off as a passing irritation but rather should be read as if it is the tip of the iceberg: if a male patient has held on to this “little” annoyance, it obviously is of a much more substantial proportion underneath the surface.

Why Men Should Make Space for Selfishness

If any of these patients sound like something you have said in the past, the good news is that there is a simple salve for these scenarios: tap into your self, let those emotions out, and make space for you by setting healthy boundaries. This is where SELFishness comes in: if you can pay attention to yourself and your feelings and respond to them directly, you can resolve conflicts before they even begin. By attending to your feelings, you bring the whole you to your relationships; you are no longer distracted by those repressed points of anger but rather have tapped into your true motivations and can be your genuine self. With that self revealed, it is equally crucial that you set realistic and healthy boundaries in your professional and personal relationships. This means that, beyond assessing your self, you should also set limits for yourself in the workplace and at home. You should strike a balance between professional goals and personal pleasures, and you should also explore your relationships – whether fraternal, familial, or romantic – to ensure that you are engaging in them all with your true self.

From My Experience

I know, you’re probably saying to yourself that this is easier said than done, and I wholeheartedly agree. I can appreciate that sometimes we want a relationship to work so very badly that we abandon our true feelings and emotions thinking we can make any scenario work. Having worked with numerous patients who come into my practice in that frame of mind, I can safely say that tucking these feelings away never ends well. Many relationships in jeopardy that come to my couch are in such a perilous state because emotions were not addressed and the self was lost in a larger quest to keep the relationship on an even keel. This is where we begin the work together to tap into the self, and typically soon after my patients begin to realize that by being selfish they actually become better people in the other relationships in their lives.

Be a Man . . . and Be Mindful of Your Emotions

It can be hard to admit that our feelings hold such sway over us, but what is easy is tapping into those emotions and rediscovering the self. The more we are in tune with our self, the more we will be able to give back to those around us. Regardless of whether this means a healthier working environment or a more positive home life, it’s time to man up and mind those emotions.

dr dDr. Laura Dabney has been in practice in Virginia Beach for almost twenty years and has treated patients in more than a dozen cities across Virginia. Her psychiatric expertise has been featured on radio and in print media, and she consults for a number of large institutions, including the Virginia Veterans Administration Medical Center. She received her MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School and has been Board Certified in Psychiatry. Laura Dabney, MD has made a career of taking on psychiatry’s toughest challenges from treating complex, combined medical and psychological conditions, to ensure the absolute privacy of powerful, high-profile patients. Dr. Dabney has, for decades, helped her patients change their lives and relationships for the better. And they recognize her for it.

Guest Post: 9 Reasons Mental Health Matters

May is Mental Health Month. Here are nine reasons why you should be paying attention to the Mental Health Movement.

Mental Health Month

Created by the organization Mental Health America, Mental Health Month was first observed in the United States back in 1949. The idea was and still is today to raise awareness and educate the public on issues on mental illness and the challenges faced by the millions of Americans who battle mental illness.

For 70 years Mental Health Month has been observed, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Because there’s more work to be done other non-profits like NAMI also engage in outreach work in May.

9 Reasons Mental Health Matters

Check out the powerful stats below from the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI

Image result for check mark gif  1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental health condition

Image result for check mark gif  1 in 25 (10 million) adults in the United States lives with a serious mental illness

Image result for check mark gif  43.8 million people in the United States face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness

Image result for check mark gif  Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help

Image result for check mark gif  African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half the rate of whites in the past year, and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate

Image result for check mark gif  90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, but suicide is preventable

Image result for check mark gif  The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90% of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with the right treatments and support

Image result for check mark gif  Additional facts and citations are available at Mental Health by the Numbers

Then there’s the elephant in the room, which is the ninth reason mental health month matters, and that is the stigma. Navigating life while battling a mental illness is not an easy task. You can check out some of my personal stories here where I share what it’s like to face that stigma.

Often people who have a mental illness do not receive the help they so desperately need. Worse yet, people with mental illness are often the victims of bullying, harassment, and much worse which perpetuates a vicious cycle. It’s crucial we end this stigma so that people can heal.

NAMI’s Got Your Back!

Please consider visiting the NAMI website to get involved with Mental Health Month! NAMI has a particular page dedicated to Mental Health Month where you can download graphics, share your story, and even find partners and events to take your advocacy to the next level.

If you end up changing your profile picture on social using one of the graphics or share your story, please send me a message letting me know! Let’s all work together to educate others and to end the stigma around mental illness.

Charles-Minguez-PhotoBrief Bio:

Charles Minguez is a practicing Buddhist and meditation teacher sharing his experiences cultivating positive mental health to give people hope that you can too!                      

To find out more about Charles, you can visit his websiteYou’ll also find Charles on Twitter @CharlesMinguez and on Facebook. Finally, you can hear Al’s interview with Charles on The Depression Files podcast here.

Guest Post: Struggling with Serendipity

My three kids were teenagers when I changed the course of our lives with one mistake. I fell asleep at the wheel and caused a car accident that my daughter Beth could not walk away from. The spinal cord in her neck was cut by broken bones, leaving her with quadriplegia. In that pivotal moment, my family started on a new path to a new normal.

My new memoir, Struggling with Serendipity, launched April 9 with a small press (not self-publishing). It starts with the accident and aftermath: a heartsick mom battling depression and guilt while a shy but determined teenager fights the harsh limits of quadriplegia. Beth, fourteen years old, believes everything will be okay. I feel sure that nothing will ever be okay again.

Unexpected adventures carry us from our small town in Ohio to Seattle, Harvard, Capitol Hill, and around the world. Together, we find serendipity in unlikely moments, including Beth’s invitation to join the Harvard Women’s Swimming and Diving team, the first with a visible disability.

Along the way, I learn to stop denying my depression and to seek professional help. Beth also taught me that everything really is okay.

Today, Beth is a health policy lawyer. Her clients and pro bono work include companies and nonprofits in the disability community. She shares my passion for volunteering and giving back.

A lifelong disability advocate—even before Beth’s injury—I ran a nonprofit, managed group homes, and worked at an institution. I actively volunteer for disability and mental health nonprofits. I’m passionate about sharing the power of hope and connection.

I never would have believed it the night of Beths’ accident, but I’m happy to share that 19 years later, we are truly grateful for where we are today. I learned that it really is possible to manage depression and find ways to thrive.

————

An excerpt from Struggling with Serendipity follows:

A sludge of sad emotions filled my aching head. I acquired the diagnosis of depression at 23 as a new mom, but my Ohio doctor didn’t tell me. He wrote it down instead. When I read the diagnosis later, I thought it labeled me weak and ungrateful. The doctor had to be wrong.

Over the years that followed, I realized he was right. Extended times of melancholy brought more than just sadness. I lost interest in reading, sewing, walks, and other things I usually enjoyed. Most episodes began with no apparent reason. Others had a trigger, like when my favorite grandma died. My headache also flared, a band of pressure around my head and aching across and behind my eyes. I drove to Columbus to my first pain clinic.

A doctor at the pain clinic diagnosed me with a mental illness, again. Still, I rationalized it away. My excuse for depression? The headache. And vice versa. I felt like I needed an excuse since the diagnosis created a conflict in my mind. How could I be depressed when I cherished my family and felt loved? I also had a meaningful job and many other reasons to be thankful. 

Part of me understood the connection between body chemistry and depression. I ignored that part and clung to the belief that I’d be fine—as soon as all my ducks lined up in a row. Better sleep, better food, better exercising, better relaxing, better thinking, etc., etc. Healthier, tougher, wiser. Or something. 

————

Image result for cindy kolbe

More information about Cindy’s book, blog, and coast-t0-coast book tour may be found on her website:www.strugglingwithserendipity.com Find her on Twitter @cindy_kolbe and her Facebook page is Struggling with Serendipity.

Guest Post: Be Accountable

Be Accountable

It’s often too easy to place the blame on others without truly recognizing that we each play a role in the outcome of every situation. Taking responsibility for our words and actions frees us from being a hostage to our mistakes. It allows us the opportunity to accept the consequences, demonstrate our integrity, and move forward focused on what we hope to achieve rather than being distracted by the worry and fear of what might catch up to us. When we are accountable we are refusing to be burdened by conspiracies, and we’re empowered to speak from our hearts and to take action in a way that reflects the good we wish to accomplish.


Growing up one of six kids, it was easy to get away with mischief. My mom often blamed anything that went wrong in our house on the ghost who had clearly taken up a long standing residence. I’d like to think that of all my siblings, I was the good one, but even with that being said, I’ll admit that I might have conspired with the household ghost from time to time.

I now have two girls of my own and it’s important to me that they understand the power of being accountable. Over the years I’ve learned that my fear of being accountable doesn’t compare to the pride I feel when I take responsibility for my words and actions. I’ve also learned that the more I’m accountable the more positive outcomes I experience in the long run.

To give an example … A few years ago, I nearly ripped the rear passenger door off of my car because I was in a hurry, worried I was going to be late for an appointment, and feeling too impatient to simply wait for my daughter. In my haste, I misjudged how much space I had to back out of the garage knowing that my daughter had left her car door partially open while she ran back inside to get something she’d forgotten.

After my mistake had been made and the damage had been done, I suddenly became very aware that I had two options in how I could handle this. I could completely lose control and blame my daughter for all the stress and angst I felt that morning. I could go further and blame her for leaving her homework causing us to be later than we already were. I could go even further and blame her for leaving the car door open causing me to hit the garage wall as I backed out.

Or I could be accountable for my actions. I’m grateful that in that moment I recognized that both of my girls were rattled by what had happened and scared of what was going to happen next. I looked at both of them, took a deep breath, and apologized for rushing them. I admitted that I had not planned well for our departure time that morning and as a result we were all scrambling to get out the door. I apologized for not being more patient and for trying to speed things up, and in doing so, I did something stupid which resulted in the car getting damaged.

I then made two phone calls. The first one was to Ricky, my car service guy. Fortunately, he and I had a great rapport which gave me comfort as I explained what had happened. He assured me that we’d get everything fixed and he encouraged me to focus on the fact that no one was hurt and that the garage itself wasn’t damaged. I then called Chris, my husband, and told him how sorry I was and that it was completely my fault. I could hear the frustration in his voice, but his words were kind and supportive as he agreed to meet me at Ricky’s shop.

After getting my girls to school, I met Chris and Ricky. The two of them inspected the damage and poked fun at my mishap. Ricky then directed us down the road where he had a friend who specialized in auto body repairs and who just happened to owe Ricky a favor. My stomach had been in knots all morning as I anticipated the cost of the repairs. I can’t tell you how relieved I was when we finally got the estimate and learned that we were only going to be charged $100 to realign the door.

While the cost of the repair was much lower than what I had feared, that wasn’t the most powerful aspect of the positive outcomes I experienced from this situation. Taking accountability in that moment strengthened my relationship with each of my daughters. Can you imagine how they would have felt if I had blamed them for what had happened, and what the long-term impact would have been on our relationship?

This situation also acted as a powerful life lesson, not just for my girls, but also for me.

In the days that followed, I felt proud of myself for taking accountability and for teaching my daughters the importance of owning our mistakes, and with that pride came the recognition that while it was obvious that I should have been accountable in that moment, not every situation is so black and white. This incident occurred during a time in my life when everyday felt like a battle. Most of my relationships were strained, nothing was going right and I’d forgotten how to appreciate the simple pleasures in life. I believe this was the wake up call I needed to realize how my own words and actions were playing a role in my state of despair. I began to understand the importance of owning how I was going to show up, how I was going to respond to the world around me, and how I was going to engage with others.

If you can relate to feeling like it’s you against the world, I’d encourage you to take a moment to reflect and ask yourself what role are you playing in all of this and then have the courage to Be Accountable.


Jenny Landon

Blessed│Wife│Mom│Friend│Founder of GOOD│Author│Public Speaker│Golf Fanatic

It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.

Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.

Picture1

His Suicide Saved Her Life – How Jenny Landon Found GOOD in even the Darkest Moments

Screen-Shot-2018-10-14-at-11.29.02-PM-510x382

Nearly fifteen years after losing her dad to suicide, Jenny Landon was asked by a friend to write a letter of hope letting others know that healing is possible. Three years later, what started as a letter became a published book called Growing Through Grief. Jenny’s life experiences and her passion for helping others have compelled her to be voice of compassion and authority on suicide awareness, healing, and wellness.

After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree inPsychology, Jenny worked as a crisis counselor and public educator on suicide prevention. Over the last twenty years, Jenny has endured losing her dad to suicide, supporting loved ones with mental health struggles, as well as overcoming her own depression and state of being suicidal. Through this she has learned effective tools for healing that are rarely discussed with mental health.

Jenny now travels to speak to audiences large and small about the importance of intentional living, authentic healing, and meaningful connections, and how understanding these three concepts lay the foundation for living a life of hope, wellness, and gratitude. Jenny speaks from the heart as she shares her personal journey and offers hope to her audience while empowering them to ask questions, explore options, and take action.

page1image1657520page1image1660432

Guest Post: The Mathematics of Hope

(Note: If this article looks familiar to some of you, it was published earlier and taken down at the request of the author. He has again allowed me to post it. Also, please note that Paul was a guest on The Depression Files podcast. Hear him share his story and much more here).

BY PAUL CURRINGTON

A lot of people say they’d die for their child. I’ve never heard anyone say they’ll show them what it takes to live. The truth is, when life is overwhelming, we justify all kinds of unhealthy behavior. We eat a doughnut when we’re sad. Smoke a cigarette when we’re stressed. Have a few glasses of wine after a hard day at work. Because we all get overwhelmed, we forgive ourselves and we forgive others.

Except when it comes to suicide. Especially if you’re a parent. Years ago, after a lifetime of depression, I tried to end my life. In the months and years afterward, I discovered that as a parent, when you cross the line from thinking about suicide to surviving suicide, you end up having to answer one question for the rest of your life. “You have a child. How could you have been so selfish?” Everyone seems to assume that we didn’t think of that when we made our attempt, but from my own experience, and my conversations with other survivors, I know many of us did think of that and came to the conclusion that our children were better off without us.

That’s the insidious nature of depression. When you’re deep in it, all the lies you tell yourself make perfect sense. I call it The Calculus of Despair. No rational argument or past experience can make you believe otherwise. No matter what you’ve accomplished, you still feel like a failure. You could have a hundred voice mails in your phone and still feel unwanted. You could be holding a handmade birthday card from your son and still feel like he’d be better off without you.

Depression doesn’t give you choices. It gives you ultimatums. It convinces you that nothing will ever change and the only way out of this pain is to get out of this life. If your depression leads you to end your life, it doesn’t mean you haven’t thought about the consequences. It means you put everything in your life into the spreadsheet, did the calculations, and discovered that ending your life was the best thing for everyone. You didn’t decide it, you discovered it using the upside-down mathematics of depression.

If you’re lucky, you survive. Someone stops you. You stop yourself. Maybe you just miscalculate and wake up on the floor of your bedroom in a fog, not sure if you’re if you’re angry or grateful. What happens next shapes the rest of your life. When I woke up the day after my attempt, I realized I had a choice to make. I could keep living the life that had brought me to my knees or I could do everything in my power to change how I lived. If I ended up a year later in the same place in the same state of mind, at least I would know that I went down swinging.

I decided to go down swinging.

For the next year I committed to doing everything my therapist and doctor told me to do. If they said take a pill, I took a pill. If they said eat healthy and exercise, I made a salad and went to the gym. I did everything I was supposed to do so that in the end, if nothing worked, at least I could say I did my best.

But it did work. After a while, I could see my life changing. More importantly, I could see my outlook changing. I slowly started to see where I had gone wrong in the past and how my new habits were helping me stay on course. I stopped isolating myself. I started asking for help when I felt myself slipping. I swallowed my pride and joined support groups. All of these things together helped me achieve the emotional stability I never thought was possible.

The most helpful thing of all however was my decision to reveal to others that I struggled with depression. I was tired of keeping it a secret, and the longer I held it, in the heavier it became. Shame gathers momentum in silence and I didn’t want to give those feelings a chance to grow. I figured if I told my story as a survivor rather than a victim, people would see me as strong instead of flawed, tough instead of fragile.

A year-and-a-half after my attempt, I started telling people outside my close circle of friends what I had been through and what I continue to deal with. I didn’t do it all at once and I didn’t do it online. I just slowly revealed, one-on one and in person, that I live with depression and that some of the things I do, eating healthy, not drinking, doing more walking than driving, are things that help me stay happy and centered.

But before I shared my story with too many people, I knew I needed to speak to my son. It was time to tell him that his father had crashed and risen, and that for the rest of my life I would have to rise again at the beginning of each day and do the things that keep me alive. He was 22 and not living with me when I made my attempt. It had been easy to keep my recovery a secret from him because he was off living his own life and I didn’t see him every day. But I knew that if I wanted my story to help others he needed to hear it from me first.

So I sat him down in the place where we always have the hard talks, the car. There’s something about being side by side that allows us to say things that we couldn’t if we were staring at each other. I drove all over town and the surrounding woods before I found a way to bring up the subject. To my relief, my son was grateful and supportive. He shared with me that he had his own struggle with depression and had once considered suicide. That talk turned into other talks. Those talks led him to finding a good therapist and working on making healthy changes in his own life.

It’s been three years since that talk in the car and I’ve never regretted it. My kid still sees his therapist and isn’t embarrassed about needing one. By admitting I have depression, I showed him that his dad is just as flawed as anyone else. There’s no mythical bar that my son has to live up to now. When he feels sad and lost he doesn’t have to add shame to the emotional equation. He knows his father has also felt sad and lost.

When I shared the real reason I go to the gym, get enough sleep, and spend time helping others, I wasn’t just sharing my story, I was showing him how to get through his own rough times and the ways I’ve found to get around the awful, twisted logic of mental illness. Depression tells me 1+1=0. What I tell my son is this: 1+1=whatever you believe it to be. It is the simple addition of days filled with small purposeful steps forward that we see our way through.

The greatest gift I ever gave my son was to stop pretending I had it all together. It gave me a credibility with him I never had before. When I share with him the things I do to stay alive he knows they work because I’m still here. If you want to teach your kid the mathematics of hope you have to show your work.

A storyteller and TEDx speaker coach, Paul Currington decided to start sharing his own story of his “lifelong friendship with depression” after an attempted suicide. He sought help and also began treating his depression like an addiction. Today, he says his life “has never been better.” Even though he still has an occasional bad day, he doesn’t let himself fall into a pain spiral. He says instead of wishing he was happy he now does things that make him happy.

Note: This story was originally posted on The Stability Network.

Note: Paul was also interviewed on The Depression Files podcast. Click here to listen to this very intriguing interview.