Creativity As A Path Out Of Depression’s Fog (Matt Steady)
One of the dangers of not talking about mental health challenges,
is that people may not identify their struggles as an illness
and so not reach out for help and support.
Matt, who did not realize he was depressed and has never spoken about it,
shares his story and how creating music helped him clear depression’s fog.
Giving Voice to Depression, profiled on FOX6 Milwaukee
Please watch Ted Perry’s profile of the Giving Voice to Depression podcast. The link below will bring you to the exceptional story.
NEVER GIVE UP
One year ago today, we posted the first episode of the Giving Voice to Depression podcast. That first month, 106 people played it. Since then, we have produced more than 40 episodes, which have been played more than 23,000 times — about 1,000 times a week now (not a huge number in SEO or Kardashian worlds, but we’re talking about two Wisconsin-raised sisters, talking about a highly-stigmatized topic.)
The GVTD Facebook and Twitter community is more than 5,000 strong. We post daily, and reply personally to every comment. We’ve presented at national conventions, done interviews and segments on TV and radio news, been published on national mental-health organization websites and international platforms, and talked 1:1 with countless people at depression-awareness and suicide-prevention events. More than 60 people have shared their personal stories of life with depression on our podcast.
And those aren’t the most-important things.
The point that’s most important, the point I really hope you let sink in, is that one year before the launch of this project, I truly believed my life, as I had known it, was over. I thought all the talents and gifts and love and joy I’d been blessed with was in the past. It’s not that I was sad. It’s that I couldn’t remember happiness. Life had become nothing more than an endurance test, and I did not have the energy or the will to endure.
I did everything wrong while I was in depression’s deep, dark pit:
I isolated. I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling (not out of shame, just because anything they might try to do to help would require energy on my part, too. Or worse- I’d tell them and they’d do nothing.) I wasn’t on antidepressants, which I knew had helped in the past. I wasn’t exercising or getting outside or much of anything, because I work at home and I was constantly exhausted on a cellular level.
But the part of me that knew… the teeny ember that depression had not extinguished… urged me to call my doctor. To get on meds again. To try. One. More. Time.
And it worked! I’ve had some really low days since, but not bad weeks, and certainly not bad years. And that’s just life. The only thing that changed, was that I started taking a low dose of antidepressants every morning with my vitamins. My situation was exactly the same–which is how I finally came to really understand that depression is a medical illness. If I was depressed because I was heartbroken, alone, under-employed, isolated or any of the other “depressing” factors in my life, then I would still be depressed. And I’m not. I would still be unmotivated. And I’m not. I would still be dreading waking each morning, and I am not.
And that’s why I started a non-profit (Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc.) and the Giving Voice to Depression podcast with my lifetime BFF and little sister, Bridget. I want to reach back into the darkness and tell the people there that there is hope and treatment and a life far better than the one depression has convinced you is your only option.
I wanted to create something that would allow people in depression’s grip, to hear short, real, intimate conversations between People Who Have Been There and Found Their Way Out.
In this past year, we have taken our message of hope, and recovery and depression-management, to colleges and suicide-prevention events, and to Facebook and Twitter and the media and anywhere else that would have us. There is nothing special about us. Well, nothing more special than there is about you, I mean.
Hope and recovery live in the understanding that depression is an illness as real as any other. It’s not a weakness or a failing. But unlike diabetes or cancer, it is “all in your mind.” And that’s the danger. Because with full access to your mind, it can convince you of terrible things.
But I am writing you today, with my hand on my heart (had to pause to do that) and conviction in my voice, shouting that DEPRESSION LIES! Like me, you have to blow on any surviving embers of hope. Everything can change. You may need meds. You may need therapy and/or exercise, meditation, support, the outdoors, music, creativity, friends, alone time… whatever it takes. But don’t give up. Please don’t give up. I’m so very, very, very glad I didn’t!
We are not alone. And we are so much stronger together.
Starting The Conversation (Comedian Frank King)
A stand-up comedian
and former writer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
discusses depression with perspective, candor and humor.
What’s funny about depression? Nothing!
But people with depression can be funny,
because depression is just one of many aspect of our selves.
Support From People Who Truly Understand
You can’t help but admire people who have been through hell
carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.
That thought came to mind as I watched members of the Giving Voice to Depression Facebook community page rally to support three members who recently suffered heartbreaking events. One just lost her husband to a heart attack, the son of another attempted suicide and is hospitalized, and the only child and only brother of a third were both murdered this month.
Of course a loss does not have to be recent to be painful. And no doubt many other members are dealing with their own struggles– on top of depression.
AND YET… in less than 24 hours, more than 300* people posted hearts and supportive comments, promises of prayers, and reassurance that dark time at least lighten if not pass. When was the last time 300 people rallied to support you during a loss? I’m guessing never if you’re anything like me.
But that’s what we can all do for each other. No matter where in the world we might be, no matter where we stand on any political issue, no matter what holiday we are celebrating this time of year, we all understand pain and loss and loneliness and fear. And we all want to know that someone is out there. Someone who understands. Someone who has been there, or close enough to “there,” to have some credibility when they offer hope and reassurance.
This last year, since starting the Giving Voice to Depression project, has not been without low points. There are times we wonder if it is “worth” the full-time effort it entails. Today we are not wondering.
Blessings to you all. May 2018 be a year of light, and support and mental health. May you know in your heart that we are all in this boat together. And that we will not let it sink.
Happy New Year. And thank you for being here. And for being you.
Terry, Bridget, and the entire Giving Voice to Depression Board/team.
(*Day 2 update, the number is now 400)
Taking Giving Voice to Depression’s message to the airwaves
(click on link above, and then click a 2nd time when the new window opens to hear the interview that aired.)
Terry McGuire is a former TV news reporter and anchor, and she has worked as a voice talent since leaving the local news business. Her sister, Bridget, is a massage therapist based in Washington state, and they are both certified in Mental Health First Aid.
While they are not counselors or mental health professionals, they have a personal connection to the disease.
They both have depression, and they’re not ashamed to talk about it.
Reaching a larger audience
Tapping into her media background, McGuire launched an online podcast earlier this year called
Giving Voice to Depression, co-hosted by her sister.
Instead of formal training, they share their firsthand experiences living with depression. Their own struggles, McGuire says, gives them valuable insight into the disease and allows them to connect with others dealing with it.
They produce at least one episode weekly, bringing in a variety of guests — both everyday people and professionals — to discuss various aspects of depression.
Each episode features a personal story, showing the human side of the illness, McGuire says.
In its eight month run, the sister duo has produced about 40 short-form podcasts, and racked up thousands of listeners and streaming sessions.
And recently, the podcast received funding from the Charles E. Kubly Foundation allowing them to produce another season.
The podcast is connected to McGuire’s nonprofit, Giving Voice to Mental Illness.
Eventually the sisters hope to expand the podcast to cover more mental health topics like anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Don’t Give Up
The organization Music To Grieve To, which believes
“Nothing can prepare you for grief, nor is there a right or wrong way to deal with it, but sad music is an easily accessible and highly effective tool that can help you begin to heal,”
is featuring one of our favorite songs, and a nice write-up
and link to our website and podcasts. (Link below)
We greatly appreciate the assistance in spreading the hopeful messages of both. And please, if you are having suicidal thoughts, don’t be alone. Reach out to a friend, family member or professional, or call
Don’t give up.
Words are Powerful
When Bridget and I produce the Giving Voice to Depression podcast episodes, we have the clear and strong intention of stimulating conversations and understandings that last far longer then a 15-minute listening session. We want people who don’t experience depression to better understand what those of us who do– are dealing with when we go to That Other Place. And we want to better understand it ourselves! Then we can explain it better, manage it better, and hopefully shorten or lessen the detrimental impact of A Depressive Episode.
That’s why we were so excited to produce the two Ripple Reports that are linked (and playable) below. Both are stories of people who… you could almost use the word “metabolized” an episode’s message and made a change in their life that will bring positive, needed changes to the lives of people in their world who are dealing with any number of challenges with their thinking.
But “ripples” do not have to be as big as a school program or a change in professional procedure to make an impact.
I recently told a friend (I obviously haven’t talked to in a while) about the podcast. She said she’d check it out, and when we got together she mentioned the episode she had listened to and her take-away from it. It was the episode “Offering and Asking for Support” (also playable below) in which Ben suggested talking about depression when someone is not experiencing it, and is therefore in a healthier and clearer place.
My friend said she has someone in her life who she thinks may live with depression– though she hadn’t been comfortable with the idea of asking, or frankly, “even using the diagnosis ‘depressed.'” After hearing Ben share his story and advice, she decided to broach the subject. That, of course, opens the opportunity for her friend to talk about what he’s experiencing– reduce the shame that led him to keep it secret, and to get help and support from someone loving and available. If he chooses to, of course.
So, that’s fabulous! That’s another beam of light shining on depression’s oppressive darkness. One more person learning that there’s another caring human in their world who now knows and understands them more completely. One more chink in stigma and isolation’s armor.
We can’t tell you how exciting and gratifying and motivating it is to hear these stories.
Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Thank you for trusting us to give you credible, engaging, comforting information. And thanks especially to Ben and the 40+ other people who have given us their time, perspective and stories to share.
We are all stronger together. Take care of your wonderful selves.
Terry & Bridget, Giving Voice to Depression podcast co-hosts
An Open Letter on #GivingTuesday
Big Things Ahead for Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc.
As we’re now officially in the holiday season, we want to take the opportunity to thank you again for all of your support for Giving Voice to Mental Illness. With 40 Giving Voice to Depression podcast episodes having more than 13,000 listens, and 2,300+ Facebook members interacting on our 4.9-star-rated community page, we’re clearly making an impact…and we couldn’t have done it without support from friends like you.
As we plan for the New Year, we are committed to reaching even more people with our potentially life-saving message. But as our efforts grow, so do our financial needs. In addition to continuing to produce a professional-quality podcast, we also plan to increase our speaking engagements, community-outreach and online presence, especially on Facebook. These are the ways we reach the most people – providing credible information and fighting stigma, isolation and ignorance one shared-story at a time.
Would you help by making a donation to help fulfill our mission in 2018? Would you forward this to other people you know support mental-health advocacy? Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc. is now a 501(c)(3) so donations are tax deductible. A contribution of any size is of enormous help, even a dollar — whatever you care to give. It will mean so much to know that our friends and family are rallying behind our critical mission. And the financial support will help us grow our community to reach even more people in the coming year.
Again, thank you for all of your encouragement and support as we built this effort these past nine months, from 100 podcast-listens our first month to more than 2000 in November. And we’re just getting started.
We are stronger together. Be well.
Terry and Bridget
Terry Bertha McGuire & Bridget Bertha Shore, sisters/podcast creators and co-hosts
And the Giving Voice to Mental Illness Board of Directors.
The Giving Voice to Depression podcast is a production of Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc. a 501(c)(3) founded to start healthy, healing conversations that reduce stigma, and promote understanding and reduce the risk of suicide. To support our nonprofit, make a tax-deductible donation below.
Suiting Up and Showing Up
When my sister Bridget and I committed to Giving Voice to Depression, we agreed to set aside the fears (and ego and privacy) of “exposing ourselves” as People With Depression. How could we possibly attempt to fight stigma and hide our own truths at the same time? Partial truth that is. Depression is only one piece of the multi-faceted people it affects. So, we have plastered our faces and names and stories across the internet. We have made public appearances and had many private conversations, all with the goal of educating people that depression is not a choice. But that stigma and ignorance both are.
We are dedicated to fighting the stigma and isolation of mental illness one shared story at a time.
Today we took the message to the radio airwaves again. Please listen to this interview/profile and share it and the link to our podcasts so that more people will hear and learn from the stories our guests share. We are NOT ALONE:
Please click on this link to hear the 11/22/17 radio interview: https://radiomilwaukee.org/story/local-podcast-sharing-firsthand-stories-depression/
The Strength is All Yours
Today we are posting the second part of our podcast episode “The Power of Compassion.”After hearing part one, a listener wrote and said the story Jonny and Neil shared touched her, because she had been “that guy on the bridge.” I asked if she was willing to share her story. This is part of what she wrote, which I post with her permission (with location details deleted):
“I’m happy to share to you. I walked out of my home. I was just in auto pilot. I saw people talking but I couldn’t hear them. By this I knew what I had to do, to end the pain I feel every day a pain inside me. I went to the bridge. I went & sat on the ledge just looking down at the water so many people it like I was invisible. I started saying sorry for all the pain & upset I had caused my loved ones. Suddenly I can hear a man talking I looked and he was near me , he started talking & saying my loved ones & my kids would be so destroyed. He said one day he felt the pain I had. He put his hand out and looking straight at him I took his hand. I hugged him I couldn’t speak just crying so much. I have no details of this man, but I will always remember his name Anthony. He saved my life.”
She then sent a second note:
“I’ve never told anyone this not even family It felt like it was right to share. Thank you for giving me the strength to share my story with you. I believe in my heart my story was meant to shared with you.”
There is power in sharing our story. This listener learned from our podcast that she is not alone. You may be learning that from her story today. Be an Anthony or a Neil – listen if someone needs to talk. The human need to be heard is a deep one. We thank this listener from the bottom of our hearts for sharing with us today. What an honor to be trusted. And thank you all for being part of this safe space where we can share her words. Be well.
Be Not Afraid
We know some of you may be reluctant to listen to our podcast, Giving Voice to Depression, thinking it might be… well… depressing. But we try to make and think of them as stories of resilience and empowerment. Sure, people share their struggles, but they also share their self-care and management techniques, and their philosophy on Life With Depression. Guests are all well enough (and caring enough) to share their story in an effort to normalize the discussion and reduce any shame or stigma around it. Many are inspiring. Some have moments of laughter. All offer some hope.
This morning, one FB community member sent us this note:
“I am just now, for the first time listening to your podcasts and they are amazing! It’s taken me this long to listen, for some reason, was afraid to hear because that would mean I have to keep dealing with this. I am now working my way through all of them. Thank you!!!!”
So… come on in, the water’s fine. And after you listen, feel free to share with others you think would benefit from the message. Each episode explores a different experience of depression; from the elderly to teens, suicide-attempt survivors to suicide-loss survivors, those who have found natural remedies effective to those who are treatment-resistant, etc. And if there’s a perspective we haven’t covered, let us know!
Season 3 will include veterans, the connection to chronic pain and ACEs or Adverse Childhood Events, Black Mental Health Matters, and several other perspectives. Email us (the co-hosts) at Bridget@GivingVoiceToDepression.com or Terry@GivingVoiceToDepression.
Self Help (Duff The Psych)
A psychologist and author, whose specialty is taking
complex psychological issues and breaking them down into plain language,
offers some techniques to help manage depression.
Duff the Psych’s website: http://www.duffthepsych.com/