Christmas and Technicolor

For several years, I have been talking with attorneys and paralegals about issues of depression and mental health. I have often told of my own personal journey through the unchartered waters of psychiatry, medication, depression and hospitalization. I have concluded that in so many ways, it was easy for me. The publicity of what I went through, in newspapers and television, gave many people a view into my world years ago. But I learned what I feared most is what I should have feared least. I was so concerned about what other people would learn about me, and what they would think…not only had I done acts that were illegal, but also I was not completely right in my own mind that it almost cost me everything.

What I did not know then, but know now, is that people, for the most part, are forgiving and willing to give you a second chance, and they are not nearly as hard on you as you are yourself. So this Christmas season, if you are feeling down and afraid to talk to someone, don’t be. If you are afraid to seek medical help, don’t be. If you are feeling bad about yourself, don’t.

If people find out that you are seeing a doctor and/or taking anti-depressant medication, so what? They may be doing the same thing. And if they are not, perhaps they should. All I want to say is that knowledge by others of what you might be going through in terms of depression can be freeing to you…you no longer have to worry about what anyone thinks. That is the most freest feeling in the world. I have often said that the Raleigh News and Observer saved me…in that by publishing everything about me, including the medication I was taking and that one of my attorneys feared for my physical safety…absolutely freed me from worrying about whether anyone knew. They knew. And so slowly I began to get better. I learned the great value of friendship that is not conditional. And so will you.

It took awhile. Dr. Spaulding once asked me “Jim, what in your life is in Technicolor and what is in Black and White?” I didn’t have a good answer. And so a lot of my therapy, both with the Doctor and by myself was focused on getting that answer. Ultimately that led to waiting tables, writing a book and making speeches and holding seminars. But it all began with that question.

This Christmas, think about that and ask yourself that same question…What in your Life is in Technicolor and what is in Black and White? Don’t worry about what anyone else may think of your answer. What works for you? What makes you happy?

It may be as simple as going for a walk, cooking a meal, having a great conversation, watching a funny movie, reading a good book, being with family and good friends. I found that all of these, and plenty more, are the best therapy in the world.

Merry Christmas!

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