Episode 04: Brandon Talbot on depression: “I rarely get a day off.”
Brandon Talbot (he/his) is a former professional volleyball player, NASM Master Trainer, and jiu-jitsu competitor. He’s also my boyfriend, and one of more than 16 million Americans living with depression. In this intimate conversation, we examine the effect depression has had on his life and career as an athlete, the tactics he uses today to pull himself back into the light, how I’ve navigated discussions around his suicidal thoughts, and how best to support your loved ones during their dark days.
Please note, our discussion today contains adult themes, including suicide and suicidal thoughts.
Connect with Brandon Talbot
Suicide Prevention Hotline (US): 1-800-273-8255.
Suicide hotlines worldwide: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
Tony Robbins on gratitude
Therapy resources: NAMI, Psychology Today, #melissaexplainstherapy
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness): 9 ways to fight mental health stigma
Loving What Is, Byron Katie
Hi, my name is Melissa urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick.Today my guest is Brandon Talbot. He’s a self described massive nerd and the former president of the high school magic club. He’s a former professional beach volleyball player with the NVL and AVP and a onetime Guinness World record holder for the highest single leg box jump. He’s also an avid fan and competitor in the sport of Brazilian Jujitsu. He’s a master trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and for the last 17 years has made a living training everyone from Olympic athletes to teens and grandparents. He’s also one of more than 16 million Americans living with depression. I should probably also mention he’s the love of my life. Today, he’s here for an intimate conversation about why we’re so ashamed to talk about mental health, the things he’s found most helpful in pulling himself back into the light and how to best support others during their dark days. Please note, our discussion today contains adult themes, which includes suicide and suicidal thoughts.
If you’re struggling with mental health issues, support is available 24/7 through the Suicide Prevention Hotline, (800) 273-8255. I wanted to have this conversation with Brandon for a few reasons. First, I’ve been really open about my own experience with drug addiction, anxiety and depression. I hope that by using my voice, others will find their own so we can de-stigmatize these mental health conditions and help people the support they need. Second, Brandon and I have had a lot of conversations over the last two years about his mental health struggles and suicidal thoughts. They’ve been hard, they’ve been uncomfortable, and at times they’ve been terrifying, but we hope sharing them here will better prepare you to engage, empathize, and support your loved ones who might be suffering in silence. Finally, Brandon’s been sharing his own journey with depression and suicidal thoughts on his Instagram feed and the response has been overwhelming. You are not alone. Help and support are available and we hope to help you find that light and connection today.
All right, Brandon, welcome to Do the Thing. (BT) Thanks for having me. (MU) I don’t know if I should call you babe or Brandon…. I’m certain you’re going to call me dork before the podcast is over. (BT) Oh yeah, 100%. (MU): So the first thing I ask every guest is, what’s your thing? (BT) Donuts. (MU) No, it has to be more than donuts!
Okay. My thing, I would have to say, I really enjoy helping people figure out, discover that they’re more valuable than they think they are. You know, and I choose to do that through like physical fitness, but helping people break best, uh, their own self imposed limitations. That’s probably my thing. And donuts. (MU) So I’ve known you for more than two years, and as long as I’ve known you, your depression has been a part of our relationship and our discussions. But your depression predates me by a long shot. When was the first time you remember having depressive or even suicidal thoughts?
Really early on. Uh, I remember being five or six. We had just moved from a little town called Hinckley to St George. So I remember that. And I remember feeling different and that’s probably the main thing. I felt like I didn’t belong. And that’s kind of where those thoughts started creeping in as a child. (MU) That young, you knew that you felt different? (BT) Yeah, I didn’t understand obviously at five I didn’t understand what suicide was, but I understood that I didn’t want to be around. (MU) Oh right. Yeah. Did you talk to anyone about it? (BT) No. No, no. (MU) The degree to which you felt like that, did you understand that wasn’t a normal experience for kids your age? (BT) No, that’s probably why I didn’t bring it up. You know, it wasn’t until much later where I was like, you’d start to hear about those things.
You know, my dad was a therapist, so just being around him and his, his occupation, I was like, oh that’s, that’s maybe what I have. (MU) So growing up, I love that you’re like a self described massive nerd. I love that you are into magic, which high school was probably not cool, although I’ve seen you do some magic tricks now and those card tricks are really cool. But probably back then didn’t win you any points. Did that feeling of not belonging continue through like your, you know, junior high and high school days? (BT) Yeah, for sure. That’s actually where, I mean high school was definitely the, the rough point. Those, that was the worst for me. I continued to try to do things to fit in. Um, and like I look back on it now and it’s kind of comical how dumb those decisions where like one I’m going to be in Japanese club and the only kids that do Japanese club or like the ones that were parkas all year round and wear berets so that… Swing and miss.
And then I got into magic. We had a magic club. I eventually became the president of the Magic Club. Prestidigitation not the card game. Um, and that didn’t, that didn’t work out either. So, yeah, I like, I just felt like I wasn’t smart enough to be a nerd. That’s how I felt. But I also wasn’t a Jock, even though I played a lot of sports and I couldn’t fit in there, so I just, I just kind of felt very lonely my high school career. Yeah. (MU) And so did those feelings of not wanting to be around continue, did they strengthen? (BT) No, it got, it got a lot worse. My, my high school experience very much was me and my room by myself, like really angry and you know, thoughts of suicide. It was just a regular thing, but I didn’t want to die. It’s hard to explain like, yeah, I wanted kill myself, but I was so afraid of death that I just was like, well, I don’t know if I could do this.
(MU) You’ve talked a lot about this idea of just not necessarily wanting to kill yourself, but just wanting to not be here.
(BT) Yeah. In high school, that’s what I wanted to do. As I’ve dealt with this pretty much my whole life. It’s gotten to a point where I no longer want to kill myself, but I don’t care if I’m around. (MU) Did you ever talk to anyone about this? Your Dad is a therapist, your parents?
BT: 09:26 (BT)
My, my dad and my mom are really smart. They’re very supportive as you know, my parents are amazing and my dad and my mom caught onto this super early on, and they’ve been super supportive ever since they first saw it. And that was probably like in junior high is when it was really apparent, you know? And they’ve been in my corner ever since. But there are just some things about talking to your dad who’s a therapist about suicide that just felt more like a therapy session than like, Hey dad, can we talk?
(MU) Where are you ever afraid to share the full scope and breadth? (BT) Yeah. They don’t like, I’ve never gone into detail with them what or how I feel. I just say, Hey, it’s pretty bad today. That sort of thing. I’ll call home when it gets bad cause my mom’s amazing and she’ll just, you know, she’s super supportive. But no, I mean for the sake of them I don’t tell him anything. (MU) You feel like they wouldn’t be able to handle it? No, we’ve, we’ve talked about this. Like I remember my dad, like when he, when he would have clients that were suicidal, his responsibility was to call the police. The police would come and essentially arrest that person for their own good so they can do harm to themselves or somebody else. And I was like, I’m not being arrested just because I have these thoughts that I think a lot of people have.
(MU) So after high school when you’re in college, you discovered volleyball and you felt like that was something that you could be really good at and then you worked really, really hard at it, and then you were really good at it to the point where you are invited out to Huntington Beach to play professionally. You partnered up with people who have gone to the Olympics. You were very well known for your athleticism and in particular your jumping. How was that time for you with your mental health?
(BT) It was, it was a time that I really didn’t think about it that much. Like I was doing what I never thought I would do. I was proving a lot of people wrong essentially. Basically I went out there with like a five year chip on my shoulder, people telling me, Oh I would never amount to anything as far as sports cause I was like horribly unathletic and then I spent a great deal of time, like improving that. Volleyball was just volleyball and I was lonely because I didn’t really have a social life. But like I was having fun playing volleyball. I was living my dream. I didn’t really have those thoughts too much. It wasn’t until like I came back home and I ended up getting injured that it got, like, really bad.
(MU) So would you say that that was a point in your life where the, your mental health issues, the depression and the anxiety were sort of at their best? Were they just quieted in the background or were they pretty much…
(BT) Just quieted. Like I’ve said this before, I’ll have good days and I’ll have really bad days, but very rarely will I get a day off. I don’t think there’s a day that’s gone by in probably the last decade where I haven’t thought about death like really seriously and it makes me like kind of gasp, so yeah. But, definitely the AVP was a lot of fun. I was living my dream and uh, yeah, things were quieted as you said. (MU) And then you got injured. (BT) Yeah, I uh, I moved back home. I had just gotten to a point in volleyball where it was like, you’re not gonna get any better. I’m super proud of the point I got to. But my dream was to be an Olympian and when they only pick four guys to represent an entire country and I was already on the older side of people out there, I just knew that there was, it was never gonna happen.
12:53 So I wanted to see my family more. My sister had just had their, you know, their kid and I wasn’t getting to play with him much. So I decided to move back to Salt Lake and uh, that’s when I ended up hurting my back. (MU) Tell us about what happened with your injury. (BT) Well, I ended up hurting my back, so yeah, so that’s probably known on tours being like a very athletic guy to jump really high, run really fast. And that was the thing that I found, you know, it was kind of unique for me. I was just special in that regard considering I got a half a pull up in my high school physical. Like I went from being so unathletic to extremely athletic and then I hurt my back and uh, I was, I’ve never been the same person. Like, I just set a Guinness World record and now I can barely walk. So you know, volleyball and being a hyper athletic volleyball player, that was my identity and that was taken away, and basically I was just kind of a shell of myself. And at that point I was like, well, I have no more value.
(MU) So you wrapped your athleticism and your career into your self worth, which is really super common, especially with professional athletes. And then that came crashing down and then you’re left with how many years of like, who am I and what do I have to offer?
(BT) It was probably a two year span that I really felt just like, what’s, what’s the point? Why am I here? Every day was like, I wish a bus would just freaking hit me.
(MU) (Pause) Sorry. It’s hard. So how did your behavior change after your injury, and how did your mental health issues tie in with that?
(BT) Really angry. Um, you know, uh, more or less angry and then just I didn’t want to do anything. I like, I had this obligation to my job because I had to pay bills and whatnot, but for the most part, like after that I really didn’t have any sense of purpose. I just didn’t give a damn really lazy other than the discipline I had cultivated over the last you know, decade.
(MU) And do you feel like your depression and anxiety kind of flooded back in? Was that the opportunity at sort of had been looking for to come back?
(BT) Yeah, I mean seriously suicidal is like, that’s when it happened. Thinking that I had no worth and no value, you know, and nobody would care about me anymore. Like I didn’t have any… Being told I was not special in those formative years, like junior high and high school and being made fun of and then doing everything to to prove them wrong and then proving them wrong. Just to go back to that. Yeah. I was like, okay. I’m done. Like that was my shot. I missed it, kind of what’s the point now… I’m just going to be like a normal person for the rest of my life? No.
(MU) How did you dig out of that place? I understand and we’ll talk about that you’re still, you know, dealing with and battling depression and suicidal thoughts even to this day, but how did you dig yourself out of that pro post professional athlete hole?
(BT) There, there were a couple opportunities where I had that I just realized, um, I could be more than just the volleyball athlete more than just like the hyper athletic guy. I realized that I could still have value. I can’t remember who I listened to. I don’t know if it was Tony Robbins, but essentially that identity… I understood that was my career. I was like, okay, careers change and I can still be special in some other way. And uh, just started doing other things where I could like try to excel at and one of those, you know, like starting my own business, that sort of thing. I don’t know. I don’t know. I wish I had like a better, more concrete “”on this day this happened and then I started a whole new life” and it just wasn’t like that. It was just a slow, let’s just get to the next day and let’s start working on some things and let’s just… I don’t know that that’s not a great answer.
(MU) Well, I mean, because I don’t think there ever is just one thing that kind of turns it around. I think it’s a slow change in a slow process. I think maybe at times you have one thing that sort of helps you level up in that moment and kind of reach a new level of understanding and acceptance. But I also feel like you would have had to grieve for that period of your life, you know, and, and kind of what you lost in terms of your image and, and worth and confidence with your injury.
(BT) Yeah, a big part of it was people sticking around and still being my friend after I thought everybody would just kind of like, you know, especially some of the friends that I cultivated in the AVP, some really big names who were my friends before going out there. For some reason I thought they would just be like, ah, whatever. You’re not a volleyball player anymore. We’re probably closer today than we were back then. You know some of them. So having those guys kind of stick in my corner was, even though they probably don’t know, they did, that was hugely beneficial. But yeah, it was just this daily process of probably two years of feeling like crap and just making sure I woke up the next day and just tried to improve upon myself. (MU) Were you talking to anyone during this time period about how you felt?
(BT) No, no. And I never really, until this last like two years. You know, I’ve been okay. I’ve really owned me and that’s why it’s a little easier to, uh, to talk about it. I do, I do know that, like I did listen to a Tony Robbins speech and he challenged somebody in his audience to do like a 30 day journal of gratitude and that’s kind of what really kickstarted that whole process. So every morning I’d wake up and I’d write three things down that I was grateful for and that’s, that’s probably what saved, saved my life.
(MU) Yes, that was one of the things I wanted to talk about. Over the course of the last two years since I’ve known you, but really in the last year you found a few things that you feel like really help move you through this process and help you make you feel better and make you more willing to talk about it. What are some of those things you just mentioned? Gratitude…
(BT) Gratitude being probably the big one. If I stay on that, it’s really hard for me to have a bad day. I can still have a day but it kind of comes and goes a little faster. Jujitsu’s been great. I think moving is so important. Staying active. Had I not been disciplined and let physical fitness kind of go by the wayside, I think I would have been in real big trouble. But I move a lot. I stay active and that helps. And then I also started getting into like more creativity stuff. Like I used to do a lot of art when I was in like junior high and high school and I really enjoyed that. But I’m kind of a perfectionist and so eventually when I was like, Oh, I’m not very good at this, I quit. And just on a whim I bought an iPad and I was like, you know what?…
(BT) I’m going to start drawing on this thing because it looks cool. And then I got a camera and started taking photos and it just, I don’t know if it’s the right brain left brain or something, but when I have those thoughts, if I go out and do the creative side, but I don’t think my brain really gets a chance to think about it. It like occupies that, that space and clears it up and it’s just given me something like a, a different way to view what I’m seeing outside, especially with like photography. Like I go outside and whoa, those clouds look really cool. It’d be a great picture. I’m hiking more, I’m outdoors more, that sort of thing. So the creativity has been a been a huge thing. And then strangling people in Jiu-Jitsu. Strangling people is weirdly gratifying.
(MU) I read somewhere… When I was doing some research on how to support you with your depression, cause there were a lot of nights where I was Googling “how to help someone with depression,” because even though I’ve experienced it myself, being on the other side of it is different. The idea of filling up the downtime, um, this idea of making sure that your downtime, you’ve got activities planned or you’ve got connections made. Because from my own experience, I know sort of that downtime, especially at night is the hardest
(BT) Scheduling out my entire day to like the hour has been so important. Yeah. If I’m left by myself on YouTube or Instagram where I can watch people doing the things I wish I could do, then I just start that man, I’m a loser. Like what am I doing? I’m so pathetic. I don’t have this, I can’t do this. So being so busy and scheduled out, not bad busy, but just being busy and scheduled out doing things throughout the day doesn’t really give me an opportunity to sit in those thoughts too long. I’ll still have them, but then it’s like open the door and now I’m seeing a client and I don’t have time for that.
(MU) Is gratitude and your creative processes, um, like photography and drawing and Jujitsu… are those part of a normal routine that you’ve created or do you just sort of employ them as needed? (BT) Not yet… I mean Jujitsu’s like, I want to get better because I really like the competition aspect, so I do it so much, not for the depression or anything like that. I do it because I really enjoy it first and foremost. And then, yeah, I want to win. Like I, I’ve enjoyed the competitive side of it. I’m a competitor, and so I like to win. So I do Jujitsu all the time, but when it comes to like creativity for me, it’s, it’s more about the fun and the inspiration rather like, I need to be inspired to go out and do that. As cheesy as that sounds, I don’t want to make it a job. I don’t want to be like, well, I feel bad so I’m going to grab my iPad and do this. It’d probably helped me to be honest, but, uh, like I want to do it when I feel like I want to do it.
(MU) You’re also spending more time talking about it now than you ever have, I think I’m the first person you’ve ever really opened up to you. We started talking about this pretty early on when we first started dating, but then really over the last year have gotten into some pretty deep discussions. BT) In the weeds. (MU) In the weeds for sure. Has that been helpful for you? (BT) Yeah, absolutely. Um, especially when it comes to our relationship. Right. It was a, that was like, that was the last thing I wanted to tell you because I knew you were going to split or I thought you were going to split. That was like the last thing I wanted to bring up, but at the same time it was like if she sticks around, you know, I’m getting something I’ve never had before. You know, this like insanely deep level of trust. I’m kind of tearing up here. Uh, yeah. So like getting that out was, and having you stick around and you’re here now interviewing me…. Uh, yeah, it’s, it’s been the best thing in the world. And I remember posting on Instagram once about us and I got flooded with messages from, from mostly guys, but some girls, but mostly guys going, hey man, like this is how I feel. Like what should I do? And I was like, holy crap. Like, you know, I didn’t mention anything about suicide on that original post, but after I got all these messages, I was like, I don’t think anybody’s going to go first. I don’t think anybody’s going to make this public. So I’m going to, uh, and so I posted it and then it just blew up even more.
(MU) You posted about the fact that you had suicidal thoughts? (BT) Yeah, so the original post was just like, hey, this is my girlfriend, she’s amazing and blah blah. And then I got a bunch of messages, hey man, I’ve been thinking about committing suicide. Like what should I do? And so while I’m talking to probably like six or seven different individuals, which was really hard, like I’m not, I’m no authority, like you need to go see a therapist… I also figured like this needs to be talked about. So, you know, I then re posted it and added the caveat like, Hey, for the last 90 days I’ve been like suicidal.
(MU) I remember that conversation. So you and I have talked before about your depression. We had talked about your anxiety and your mental health issues, but I remember the very first conversation we had where you mentioned that you had and continue to have suicidal thoughts. And like, I don’t, I don’t know that I responded… I don’t know if I responded well or not, but all I know is that like I couldn’t breathe through this idea. To hear someone you love say that so openly was really hard, but at the same time I was so grateful for it because if I, what if you didn’t tell me? Like I don’t know how to support you if you can’t tell me where you are. So I think that’s the kind of conversation that needs to happen. But for all the reasons you already mentioned, it’s hard to make it happen. What if the, what if I freaked out in the first thing I did was call the police or call your dad or what if I freaked out and you know, left. You’re putting, it’s a, it’s a very vulnerable place to put yourself in to open yourself up to that.
(BT) For sure. And I, I guess it comes down to that person. Like I know I’ve, I’ve been in spots where it’s like I want to be angry and I want to feel hurt and I don’t want anybody to interrupt it. And I felt angry and I felt hurt, and it was like, but I want to feel better so I’m going to have this conversation and if it puts me in a jail cell to where I can’t hurt myself, if it helps me find a therapist or if it helps me, you know, cultivate this relationship even more, that’s more important.
(MU) We had this conversation and in the middle of this conversation I began asking what were some of the hardest questions of my life to voice. Have you thought about how he would do it? Have you taken steps towards doing it? Do you have a plan for doing it? Like these are the most viscerally uncomfortable questions to ask of someone that you love and yet I feel like they had to be asked. I needed to know where you are in this process. I needed you to know that I wasn’t afraid to talk about it. Like we have to sit in this uncomfortable space to be able to have this conversation and connection.
(BT) Yes, it was odd at the time and I, I bet it was odd for you because for me that stuff was so normal, like feeling that way and thinking about those things, It had become like, this is how I’m going to go get the mail today. It didn’t feel like you were asking me some heavy heavyweight questions and watching you ask and me dead panning responses… Your, your reaction was like, why is he so nonchalant about this? I don’t know if that was your perspective, but for me it was like, wow, you know, I’ve never had anybody ask me about this stuff before, but at the same time I was kind of like unfazed by it just because it’s like, yeah, this is how I would do it. This is how I’ve tried to do it and blah, blah, blah.
(MU) Yeah, I didn’t think you were nonchalant. It definitely gave me an indicator as to how comfortable you were in this subject. Not that you were happy to be there. Not that you know, it was something you were looking forward to. But having spent time with drug addiction for as many years as I did, I was real comfortable in talking about that, and people would ask me questions and it would just, it would roll off and it would have the impact, you know… my mom would ask me a question about my addiction days and it would have the impact of crippling her, my super casual answer. But it was because I had lived it for such a long time.
(BT) So I think having a dad as a therapist and seeing the worst of the worst my whole life also has totally like, oh, that stuff was way more commonplace and so it is easy to talk about. (MU) But for me, I wanted to ask the question one because I wanted to be able to understand better to support you, but I almost feel like just the asking of the question gave you some level of support. Like, okay, absolutely. You know what? You just dropped this bomb. Like let’s sit down and let’s, let’s talk about it. Let’s like roll your sleeves up and get into it.
(BT) Yeah. When you asked me that it didn’t feel as if it was, here’s the line, I’m like drawing the line and now you’re like, you’re on the opposite team. It felt like you were over here, arm on my side and you’re like, let’s figure this out. You know, you just wanted as much information as possible so you could help me. It wasn’t like gross.
(MU) (laughing) No, it was, uh, it was a lot of things but it wasn’t gross. So you know, you’ve talked a little bit about how people will say all kinds of things to people who are depressed or they’ll try to do things with the intention of being helpful. For example, I really want to fix your depression. Like I want to fix it so bad. I want to refute your experience. I want to tell you about all the good things you have in your life. Like I want to fix it. And I have come to realize that like, as my friend Holly says, people want to be heard, they don’t want to be fixed, and like I can’t fix this for you.
(BT) We’ve talked about this. I don’t think it’s ever going to be fixed. And that’s okay. Like it’s totally fine that that side of me is not going to be fixed. You know, trying to fix people may be the wrong approach. I think trying to understand people is a better approach. There’s that scene in Parks and Rec where Ann is pregnant and she just complains all the time about her problems and Chris is just like, I’ll get you this and I’ll get you that and I’ll get you that. And finally at the very end they’re like, dude, just tell her that sucks. And so he sits down by her and he’s like, that sucks. I’m sorry. And then it’s good. I would say that kind of approach is maybe a better approach. I mean I remember when the Jiu-Jitsu class that I go to, most of the guys read the post and they all approached me like, hey man, if you ever need anything, let me know. We love you. Just stuff like that. I was like, oh, these guys are on my, on my team and that meant a lot.
(MU) Yeah. You know, I think it’s important to treat mental health conditions like we would any other health conditions… (BT) Absolutely. I don’t see why it’s so taboo. Like I don’t really understand why it’s like so inappropriate to talk about because I would wager that many of us have these thoughts. We could argue on like the severity of them, but I bet a lot of us would have these thoughts. So I don’t understand like what’s the point of like reeling about it. I bet it would probably help if we just talked about it a little bit more.
(MU) Yeah, I think it would help and that’s part a big part of why I wanted to have this conversation. For those people listening who are supporting loved ones. Is there anything else that people in your life have done over the last year that have been in particular the most helpful?
(BT) It’s hard. It’s hard to say because one, I’m just so freaking lucky. I have you, uh, I have my parents, like I have my sister, I’m just like constantly, all right, I hate discussing this with you because it becomes a very like, I don’t want to give you the same thing. I don’t want my problem to be the same problem over and over and over again. That’s my problem. You know, and you’ve never like, oh, I don’t have time to listen to this and none of my loved ones have ever done that.
(MU) I’ve learned a couple of things in supporting you through your depression. The first is of course not to try to spin it or downplay it. Like my first instinct is always to say to you, but you’re amazing and you’re so talented and you’re so smart. And there’s probably a place for that. But I’ve noticed that when you’re in the throes of like the worst of it, that doesn’t, that doesn’t hit you, it doesn’t touch you. And frankly, I can’t do it for you even though I’m trying. So that’s one thing. I’ve also learned and I’m already pretty good at this, but not to personalize it. So I’ll get a text message back from you and I can tell in one text message that you’re not having a good day. Or you’ll say to me, I’m not having a good day. And I have to remember it’s not about me. I didn’t do something wrong. It’s not, there’s not a situation that I need to fix. You’re just having a tough time and I need to let you ride it out and just let you know like I’m here whenever you want to talk and let you come to me when you’re feeling good enough to do that. (BT) It’s been really nice having that from you.
(MU) And then, you know, the other thing I’ve noticed is that you will have bright spots so you’ll have a really hard day. But like in the middle of a hard day, you’ll have a bright spot where it seems like you surface a little bit more. And I try to look for those and take advantage. Like those bright spots tend to be the moments where you’re more receptive to all of the wonderful things in your life or the suggestion to go do something. And so that’s been, I think, something for me to pay attention to. (BT) Absolutely. Uh, this week as you know, has been like really weird hard week. But even like yesterday it was almost like it was not apparent, but today I woke up and it was just there.
(MU) And then I think the last thing is that it’s really important if you are supporting a loved one with depression to make sure that you’re getting help yourself and that you’re taking care of yourself in this process. We can very often, especially the people who are really empathic, can open ourselves up to the pain of a loved one, but then feel like, and this is something I’ve tried to do a few times, like I feel like if I can carry your depression for you, it will help you. And like A., it doesn’t because I can’t. And B., then I end up really run down and not taking care of myself, and then I’m not in any position to help you. So making sure that the people who are supporting people with depression are taking care of themselves and maybe seeking their own form of therapy, talking to other people about their experience, I think is really helpful.
(BT) Yeah, you definitely got to put on the O2 mask first, you know? But yeah It’s like I enjoy talking about this even though I don’t enjoy talking about this. It’s like I’ve told you, it’s a conversation that needs to be had, so I’m willing to have it, but I really want to do it on my terms because the last time I talked about this, as much good as it did or didn’t do and it needed to happen, it still floored me and it really put me under for almost a month. I felt it. So it was, it’s like, yes, I want to have this conversation with people if they want to have it, but at the same time, like it’s gotta be on my terms.
(MU) So what’s one thing you could offer to someone out there who is also living with depression? (BT) One, I would get as many people involved as possible that you’re comfortable getting involved. Like I don’t think that means you need to make it public or post on social media, you know, if that’s not comfortable. But I definitely would not suggest like keeping this bundled up inside. One, you’re not, you’re not the only one. That doesn’t make it any less crappy than it is, but get people involved because I think you’d be surprised how many people actually want to support you through it. Two, get the endorphins going. Right? Like you want to sit and like stay home and not do anything. And I know that’s really hard, but like get out and move and whether that’s exercise, going to hike, play with your dog, but moving is going to help tremendously. And then, you know, uh, I personally really like the creativity thing like we discussed because it shuts off that part of my brain that starts telling me I’m a loser and pathetic. Like, it just completely shuts that off. So even if it’s just for a few hours, I can, I can stop thinking about it. So those are three things that I think are really easy to do that make a big difference. (MU) Thank you. Where can people connect with you more? (BT) Mostly just on Instagram. It’s a at @super_human_performance. I think that’s it. Superhuman performance. (MU) I’m pretty sure that’s it. Okay. Thank you for having this conversation with me. (BT) No problem, dork.
(MU) I’m so grateful to Brandon for sharing his experience with us so openly here. These kinds of honest, brave discussions need to happen. One in five adults in the U.S. will experience a mental health issue in any given year. More than 16 million Americans have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Conversations like this help to destigmatize mental health issues so people feel empowered to share their struggles and to seek help. If you or a loved one is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts. Help is here 24/7. Please call the suicide prevention hotline at (800) 273-8255 and visit the show notes for additional resources. Thanks for joining me today on Do the Thing.
Continue the conversation with me @melissa_hartwig on Instagram. If you have a question for Dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480.
Do the Thing is part of ‘The Onward Project,’ a family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin—all about how to make your life better. Check out the other Onward Project podcasts– Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School, and Happier in Hollywood.
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