There Should Be No Shame in Depression

Depression affects millions of people in the United States also. The states of depression can range from rather mild to quite severe. One of the being biggest problems with depression is the feeling of embarrassment in admitting to being depressed. Societal norms often cause people to think this ailment is taboo. And this means that treatment would not sought, when it should be.

But depression is not restricted to those who are severely ill, doing poorly at work, etc. It impacts on all sorts of people. The key to better mental health is to admit to ourselves that we have a problem. And to seek help to address that problem.

Even people who many see as “successful” have problems with depression. Consider the recent suicides of fashionista Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bordain.  Just last week, ESPN ran a major story on depression among NBA (National Basketball  Association) players — where the average salary exceeds $6 million. As Jackie MacMullan reported:

“The willingness of stars Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan to step out of the shadows and reveal their struggles has set the NBA on an important path of self-discovery. It has prompted the National Basketball Players Association to hire Dr. William Parham as its first director of mental health and wellness; and it has convinced commissioner Adam Silver and union head Michele Roberts that hammering out a comprehensive mental health policy needs to be a priority.”

“Yet there remain many obstacles to confront, chief among them the stigma attached to mental health that prompts many players to suffer in silence. The union also insists that mental health treatment be confidential. But some NBA owners, who in some cases are paying their players hundreds of millions of dollars, want access to the files of their ‘investments.’ Confidentiality, says Love, has to be non-negotiable. Without it, he says, he never would have become comfortable enough to announce from that All-Star dais that he was seeking treatment.”

Consider these candid remarks from Kevin Love, a many-time NBA All Star.

 

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

As I wrote in my very first blog post for Living Well While Surviving Cancer: “I want to offer hope and support to those dealing with any terrible disease and their families.” At times, this refers to me as well. I’m doing my best to be upbeat and live as well as I can EVERY DAY. Sometimes, that’s not easy.

Last month, my wife Linda and I went on a cruise vacation that we were planning for months. The travel and itinerary both seemed within my capability range. Because of my health issues, we prepare carefully and wait until near the date of each of our trips to book everything. And we always get trip insurance.

The first few days of this trip were fine; and we had a great time. I even tried — unsuccessfully — to take a selfie while sightseeing. I may have a lot of skills, but taking pictures with my phone is not one of them. Yes, that is my hand blocking the scenery. LOL.

Sometimes the Road Is More Bumpy

Unfortunately, there was nothing very funny about the rest of our trip. On the third night of the cruise, I couldn’t stop shivering. And the ship’s doctor decided to send me ashore. We were docked in a good spot and the hospital I was sent to by ambulance was fine.

I was examined right away and admitted to ICU. It turns that somehow I had contracted double pneumonia with sepsis. In addition, I had a fever,  low blood pressure, and a low oxygen level. Pretty scary stuff. I was out of it, so I didn’t really know what was going on. However, Linda was petrified (again).

I was in ICU for 6 days. Then, I spent another 4.5 days in a regular hospital room.  Thankfully, the excellent doctors were able to mostly “fix what ailed me.” When I was able, we returned home.

How am I now, a short time later? My doctors at home tell me it may take up to six weeks to fully get over this illness. They have also ordered me not to fly for another 6 months or so. Nonetheless, I’m feeling much better today and looking forward to every day as it comes.

What’s my moral of the story? The same one I’ve been preaching to myself for years: Live life every day. We really don’t know what is around the corner. We can only play the hand we are dealt, and make the best of it. Yes, this was not my favorite trip by any means. But Linda and I did have a few good days at the beginning. And we have a LOT of memories to look back on and stories to tell. I LOVE YOU LINDA!!

Of course, we have insurance companies to battle with over my medical care, our return home, etc. That is part of what makes life so challenging.

 

I wish you all the very best on any travel you have coming up. And above all, stay well! 

 

Randy Pausch: The Last Lecture

This inspirational video is from a speech made by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon University. To date, it has been viewed more than 19 million times. Sit back and watch. Note: It is 75 minutes long, so it may take a couple of viewings on your part. It is worth it!!

“Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals. For more on Randy, visit: http://www.cmu.edu/randyslecture .”

Today’s presentation is the third of three of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever seen. The first one we shared was Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech. The second was Steve Jobs’ incredible commencement speech at Stanford University.

 

Steve Jobs Commencement Speech

Many people know Steve Jobs as the charismatic founder and CEO of Apple. He was truly one of a kind. And when his shares in Pixar were acquired by Disney, he became the largest shareholder at Disney.

Fewer people know that Steve Jobs fought a long and tenacious battle with pancreatic cancer. He tried every possible treatment to prolong his life. But ultimately, he succumbed in October 2011.  [He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003.]

Today, we present the second of three of the most inspiring speeches that I have ever seen. The first one we shared was Jim Valvano’s ESPY speech. Below is Steve Jobs’ incredible and very personal commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005.


 

Live Like You Were Dying

For me, this is the title of a great song from Tim McGraw about making the most of every day. And one real-life hero, who has set a great inspirational example for us all, is Susan Briscoe, who wrote an article for the Huffington Post. It appeared on March 9, 2018. It is titled : “I Am Dying From Terminal Cancer. Here’s What It’s Taught Me About Living.”

Susan, you are really one of my heroes. We wish you the very best. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

As Briscoe says about her situation:

“Pre-diagnosis, I had just turned 50 and was extremely fit, healthy, and happy. Nobody could keep up with me! I was excited about life. It had occurred to me that, with my family’s excellent longevity genes — and some good luck — I might very well live another 50 years. I was enthused about the 30 years’ worth of creative activities and research projects that I had ambitiously sketched out for myself. Both my sons, also healthy, happy, and on-track, had moved out on their own; and after more than 20 years of solo parenting, I was ready for a little more fun. Deeply aware of and grateful for all the privileges that made my wonderfully full life possible, I figured I had had more joy in life than most would ever have.”

“But I didn’t get the good luck part, so now I am going to die. And that is okay. That was the first thing I told my loved ones. My boyfriend. My parents. My two boys. ‘I have a very bad cancer. I’m not going to be around much longer. It’s okay.’ They looked so hard into my eyes, gripping my hands, tears streaming down their faces, as I told them this. When I got to the ‘okay part, they nodded. They knew I meant it. I was okay. It was okay. They were going to be okay.”

“Many people I meet have imagined me in a state of pure devastation and distress at my diagnosis. Loss brings grief; and because grief is painful, like everyone else, I try to avoid it. But the flip side of grief is gratitude for having had whatever is lost to begin with. I have learned that, to a surprising degree, I have a choice about which side to focus on. I could be sad about all I won’t experience in life ― becoming a grandmother is one of the hardest for me ― or I can be grateful for all the gifts, like my wonderful boys, that I was given and fully appreciated. Choosing a state of gratitude has allowed me to remain happy and even joyous in this time. Yes, there is still grief, but the tears are fleeting, and lately rare.”

The Death Project is a blog where I journal about my life with terminal cancer. I wanted people to know that dying doesn’t have to be as bad as we fear.”

 Click the image to read more about Susan Briscoe’s personal journey.

Live Like You Were Dying

 

Surviving Cancer: Personal Glimpses of Resilience

A while back, I participated in a radio show with two other incredible cancer survivors. Hopefully, you will find this episode to be educational and uplifting. Despite some BIG issues, all three of us are still here — and living life every day.

As host Suzanne Phillips says:

“In this episode, Professor Joel Evans, Patricia Malone, and Dave Berger will share personal glimpses of their diagnosis, treatment and survival from cancer. You will hear about the impact of diagnosis, the role of family and friends. The question of stigma and the response of colleagues. You will hear about the expected and unexpected, the trust in medical teams and the personal factors that each drew upon to keep on going at the roughest of times. These are stories of pain, persistence, fear, gratitude and possibility. These are stories of people who were helped by the wisdom of others who had faced cancer. In this episode, Joel Evans, Patricia Malone and Dave Berger want to pass on their experiences to benefit others. You will not forget them or the resilience they share.”

Click the play icon to listen.