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.
Want a Peek Behind the Mask? Ask a Different Question
Life continues to teach me that you only get the answers to the questions you ask. I’ve learned that lesson that in familiar ways, like raising teens. I’ve learned it as a news reporter and interviewer. And I’ve learned it in a deeply-painful way, married to man who kept many secrets.
You can be a breath away from truth, from deeper understanding or a major shift — but you never think of, or voice That One Question.
And you move on making judgments and reaching conclusions based on the information you’ve gathered, blissfully unaware that it is limited. Very. Always.
I was reminded of that lesson recently as read one of those self-administered depression diagnostic tests. As I glanced over the questions I came across the critical one, the question I was trained to ask when I volunteered at a crisis hotline: Are you suicidal? And I immediately answered it in my head the way I always have; No. No, I am not suicidal. And even when discussing the issue with trained professionals, that 2-letter answer pretty much ends the discussion. That box is checked. Liability is limited. Next question, please.
But if you want a revealing peak behind the mask of someone who hides depression, try asking it another way.
Ask your friend or relative or client or self: “Do you find yourself thinking of death as a welcome relief?” It’s a very different question which for me, and I suspect many others with depression, has a very different answer.
I first remember thinking I wouldn’t mind dying (painlessly and in my sleep, of course) in high school. Those are tough years for lots of people, and they certainly were for me. While my friends with (what looked like) more-normal, secure and carefree lives skied and partied and vacationed, I was wearing a full-body brace, working several jobs to pay for school and navigating a volatile home environment, all while pretending everything was well, as was clearly expected of me.
Adult life has brought its own painful challenges, as it tends to. I’ll spare you the gory details. But due to environmental, biochemical, hormonal and/or hereditary reason(s), my brain can grab hold of the negative emotion I am feeling (betrayal, grief, fear, etc.) and blow on it like an ember until a full fire rages, convincing me that death would be far easier than soldiering through more, seemingly-unending pain. I know it’s not a popular or a comfortable thing to say or even read, but I would bet the ranch that other people who house the uninvited guest-that-is-depression know exactly what I mean.
Don’t get me wrong, I have experienced extreme joy, deep love and a true sense of purpose in my life, too. My children alone make every breath work taking. It is absolutely not by choice that I have such dark thoughts! You see, in addition to being prone to depression, I am an optimistic, easy-going, loving, funny, independent, resourcesful, creative, intelligent woman with a big heart and easy laugh. That is how people know me. And it is also a primary reason why I have gotten so little support through The Dark Times.
Now, I feel I must repeat; I do not, nor have I ever planned or even seriously contemplated taking my own life. But. If a life-switch existed that allowed me to walk over and flip it to “off” with the assurance that the people I love the most in the world would be in no way negatively affected, I’d have done it. No doubt.
And that is why, if you are trying to diagnose an immediate threat of suicide, by all means ask the questions on the questionnaire. Be blunt and ask if someone has a plan and the means. I posed those very questions more than a few times to callers on the hotline. But if your intent is to start a conversation that will give you behind-the-mask access, and a real chance of understanding what someone is struggling with, try asking that question instead. If they’re willing to share, it could help them lighten an unbearable load, while giving you valuable, hidden information that would help you better diagnose, support and understand a person who desperately needs and wants to feel understood and supported.
Terry is the founder and president of Giving Voice to Mental Illness, Inc. a 501(c)(3)which produces the Giving Voice to Depression podcast. She and her sister Bridget, who both live with depression, are the co-hosts.
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.