Saturday, December 6, 2014

Brainstorming a Presentation for High School Freshmen: What is Depression?

I've been asked to share my story as part of a freshmen health seminar.

The topic is depression - a topic I know far too well.

But first let's get clear on what depression is...

I want to speak with you, not as a teacher or a coach, but simply as someone that has struggled with depression at times in my life, and I continue to manage my life and stress through all of the tools mentioned in this video, especially getting exercise, practicing gratitude, finding humor, and taking to trusted friends and loved ones.

But today, I want to share more than just my story.

I want to share my brother's story as well as couple other stories that may make you rethink and reconsider your understanding of depression and offer tools for you to be an ally for others who may be struggling and realize when you may need to ask for help yourself.

We all endure times of pain, loss, and grief. We all weather storms when there seems like there's no end in sight.

It is hard to believe 15 years ago in February, we lost my brother Conor to suicide. Conor was bipolar and struggled through three high schools as well as college. He ended his life February 26, 2000.

Three years ago, I shared my brother's story and my family's story at a suicide prevention walk. Speaking to 1500 students and families, many that had lost loved ones, I was nervous to say the least, but I have come to realize that it's not about me and my fear of public speaking, it is about you.

Yes, you, not the person next to you.

Because the odds are undeniable that someday you or your loved ones are going to be touched by depression, or the unspeakable - what I thought was once unimaginable.

(Watch until 1:55)

Depression, and especially suicide, is not something anyone wants to think about - let alone talk about.

We only do so because we must. For in our silence, we feed the stigma - the shame that revolves around mental illness.

So let's get clear that depression is not a choice (and it's simplistic, and dangerous to simply say the converse, happiness is a choice).

Through technology and MRIs we are learning more about how the brain works.

Here's a story I wish we had more time to watch:

In conclusion:

A playlist of videos on Happiness and positive psychology - cognitive therapy can help, but sometimes we need medication to balance the chemistry in the brain.  

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