Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Post I Can't Seem To Title, So I'll Tell You It's About Depression



It is how I feel at the moment. This is not about the fact that ISTE is over and I'm bummed that my friends have scattered to the four corners of the country.

I suffer from depression and this is the first time I have written about it publicly.

It is something I constantly battle with and for the past two years, I've been hit with some depressed episodes during ISTE. My dark times coincide with high levels of stress, terrible eating, dehydration, and hot weather. San Antonio last year and Atlanta this year have been perfect spaces for me to feel terrible. Despite my best efforts, my sad friend takes over.

One of the reasons I have not said anything about my depression is that I feel like so few people seem to understand it. Last year was an amazing year from me. I was the MACUL and ISTE Teacher of the Year. I was speaking all over the country and I was able to see all of my friends, but everything fell apart for me and I became an anxious mess in San Antonio. This year in Atlanta, I was coming off another amazing year where 20 Time ruled my world and I hosted a TEDx Conference. I even did an Ignite session where I sang a cartoon theme song and the audience sang along. It was wonderfully received and the kind words made me feel great. Despite these amazing years filled with so many reasons to make me smile, I fell into despair.

For a couple of days I could feel an episode coming, but was battling valiantly to stave it off. Sadly (pun intended), it took over in the middle of the night. Part of my depression is anxiety. I get anxious thinking about my depression and how it makes me feel and how it is going to impact the people I care about. That anxiety makes me more depressed, which brings me more anxiety...

It truly is a fun ride.

Here is a cartoon I found that explains how I feel.

Another reason I have been scared to say or write anything is the fear that people will no longer want to work with someone who is "crazy" or "unstable". Would anyone want to hire someone who deals with depression? I'm not sure the answer to those questions, but I feel like I have to speak up in the hopes this helps, not only me, but possible others dealing with the same feelings I am.

At 4AM, I woke up in a tailspin and knew I needed to get out of it. Over the years, I have learned to cope with my bouts of Depression and decided to get a jump on this one. There is a clip I love to watch that reminds me of the piles of good things and the piles of bad things. It is from Doctor Who and my favorite episode entitled, "Vincent and the Doctor". After defeating a monster that almost killed Vincent van Gogh, they decide to take Vincent into the future to show him how important his life would become in the hope of changing his dark future. 

Here is what the Doctor tells Amy when they get back and realize that Vincent has still taken his life. 

I'm not comparing myself to Vincent, so please do not worry. I love this clip because it reminds me of the beauty of the world around us in what we do. So often we view ourselves as such failures in our jobs and have such anxiety of how the world views us, we can lose perspective. Maybe we are all misunderstood geniuses. It also made me think about how crucial it is to let people know how important they are so we can add to their pile of good things in an effort to make it bigger than that other pile. 

This clip led me to another by my friends at +SoulPancake

The video explains the science behind the fact that if you compliment someone, it will actually make you feel better. It seemed crazy, but it has worked for me ever since I saw this video and I try to compliment others as much as possible because of this clip. After watching it very early this morning, I wrote my letter in my head and felt good, but I wanted to share it here. (Sorry this is such a long post with so much media, but it's important to me.)

Dear friends (You know who you are and this includes my family, and most importantly, my wife),

I want to take a moment to thank you for all of your support and love over the years. Despite some of you not knowing about my sadness over the years, you have stuck by me and have always been supportive when things were not going my way. You have always had a smile and a warm embrace waiting for me when you could tell that I needed them. 

You have pulled me into the sunlight when all I wanted to do was hide in the darkness. My happiest moments are spent with you being goofy and just being me and I will forever be indebted to you for that. You have met me as a new friend, but treated me like an old buddy. Those little moments of kindness you do not remember are the things that get me through the toughest days. You have all added to my pile of good things while the world and my own brain try to add to my other pile. I hope I have done the same for you. 

I love you all, 


Watching these videos has made me feel so much better already. Truly, writing this post has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and I feel ready to take on the world. So, please do not worry about me, I hope all of you will take time and add to the pile of good things for the people in your life. I will continue with my battle knowing that I have people who love me  and are ready to support me.

I'm going to leave you one last clip that has +Wil Wheaton explaining why it is awesome to be a nerd and here is a post from Wil that helped me understand Depression in a different way.