John B

Thank you for your wonderful work. My name is John and I suffer from Depressive Episodes. They come, then they go. I am also the Senior and Founding Partner in a mediation firm, so at any given time there can be literally 100 people relying on or interacting with me. Because of that, I was forced to be very open about my condition. What I discovered was amazing.

My openness, which I thought was going to cost me business, family, friends, – instead, brought me closer to each. My transparency was not only the major part of my healing and is not only the major part of my management, but it is also one of the touchstones about how I relate to people.

The disease has humbled me, which made me more compassionate. The disease has had financial impact, which has made me appreciate resources. The disease has forced me to come out from behind the rock I portrayed, and as a result people know the real me, and then show me the real them, and my relationships on all fronts have been enriched and have become something I couldn’t have made them were I not suffering.

Removing the stigma has been a tremendous blessing. If you are suffering, I tell you this straightforward. The stigma is as bad or worse. But you, in a place where you feel powerless, have the greatest power. To ask for help. To share your story. To be part of your own recovery, and to be part of others’. Removing the stigma allows us to be strongest when we are weakest, to help when we need help, and to show the way when we feel lost.

22 responses to “John B”

  1. courtney says:

    That is such a BLESSING. I haven’t been so fortunate to have people understand. Even siblings. How sad, especially since my father had been hospitalized earlier on. Have a safe 4th .

    • John B. says:

      Hi Courtney – nice to meet you. I am very sorry to hear that your experience is different than my own. I have found that sometimes you need to “weed” – or educate. As is the case with most progress, perhaps people need a learning curve. And it comes from the weirdest places. One of my most open minded friends insists that my episodes come from my feeling bad about my choices. She may never get it. But there are people who do. Most do. So I invest in them.

  2. Destiny says:

    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing. Good words to others dealing with this.

  3. Karen says:

    Thank you for sharing. This gives me hope. My 18yr old son has recently been diagnosed with mental illness. It is so hard to watch him suffer. And it is equally hard for him to see his peers moving forward with their lives and he is stuck for now. My husband and I cling to words of hope such as yours.

    • John B. says:

      Hi Karen, I apologize, I thought I had responded to you earlier. Your son is very blessed to have parents who understand that simply talking about it is a huge step, perhaps the most huge, towards managing it. Thank you for writing.

  4. Kim says:

    Beautifully said:) Thank you for sharing.

  5. John B. says:

    Hi, and nice to meet you. I am very glad that you have hope. I know exactly what you are talking about, watching things move forward while he is stuck for now. That’s why removing the stigma is so important. Because it starts the motion again. Not just for people who suffer, but for their families too. Your son is fortunate to have parents who are there for him. I wish you a world of supportive and open people to go down this road with you.

  6. Nancy G says:

    Hi John. Thank you for sharing your experience to help others. If you are ever in Seattle, St. James Cathedral’s Mental Health Ministry would love to have you speak!

  7. Hilary says:

    What a poignant, powerful story. In it I see the beauty of inviting all of you in what you do. You don’t have to be Super John litigator OR Super Depressed John. You can simply be John. After struggling with mental illness for 30+ years, I need to remember that I can simply be Hilary. And that is a way to deflate stigma. If I’m ashamed of my own illness, how will others, including family and friends begin to see it any other way than how it is portrayed by the media. Transparency and acceptance are gifts to and for everyone. Thanks, John.

    • John B. says:

      Hi Hilary – and thanks for your energy. Coudn’t agree more. People treat you the way you allow them and train them to. If you are not embarassed or ashamed, other people take your lead. If you are, they take that lead too. One of the insidious things that happen with mental illness is it deceives you of a sense of how strong you still are. The more people there are like you, willing to flex in the face of a struggle, the more you control the disease rather than the disease controlling you.

  8. Lori says:

    I agree with you, the more I talk about my illness with out the stigma the better I fell. The more people learn and understand about the illness and the fact that it is only as bad as I am willing to let it bring me down. That there are things that they can do, that help keep me going too. One is treat me as a person not anything else, because that is what I am a person who has an illness that is no worse then cancer. but you don’t call me that cancer over there. so don’t call me that crazy over there either.

  9. Gretchen says:

    Such beauty and truth in your words. Thanks for loosening your tie and speaking openly!

    • John B. says:

      Hi Gretchen and thank you! I wear bow ties, and get more judgement for that than I do for getting depressed 🙂

  10. Maria says:

    Hi John,
    I always enjoy hearing from others who are successful dealing with their mental illness. I myself have a bunch of disorders as well as being an alcoholic. It’s been a real struggle my whole life and produced many times of crisis including commitments to mental hospitals and a rehab facility. Since getting sober two years ago, I now understand the root cause of all my issues. My current therapist and I do three individual sessions three times a week as well as medications to help me maintain stability. I am doing inner child work stemming from severe childhood traumas. So far it has been a real blessing to be able to finally talk and process all of this. I have been taught many tools including developing clear boundaries and how to ground myself. These memories and flashbacks are the real cause of my problems. I am not my illnesses, I am just me. I am healing finally after 37 years and that is a gift! I firmly believe in educating people to abolish the stigma. We as a society do not wish to be the way we are, it’s not a choice… Because if there was a switch I would of flipped it a long time ago. As with anything there will be ignorant people who will shun us but there is also so much support. I, like you don’t give my energy towards the haters. It is a product of suffering that has plagued me and my family of origin. I choose to educate myself and change my behaviors. I spread love, light and acceptance wherever I go. It’s the key to success!

    • John B. says:

      Hi Maria – thank you so much for sharing your story here. Sounds like you have the tiger by the right place, not the tail. You are doing great work, congrats!!

  11. Andrew P says:

    The fear of how others will be in regard to our illnesses can be immense and intense. Thank you for sharing your experience. It ties into our own independence on the 4th of July. It is difficult, but not impossible to deal with!

    • John B. says:

      Hi Andrew – well stated. There is no difference between a flare up of depression and a flare up of arthritis, it is just that we presently have a better understanding of the latter. A limp we understand, a sad face we are still learning about. I hope you are having a great experience being open about your walk.

  12. Janie says:

    Thank you for sharing your very powerful and hopeful story. I pray that others might also have such great experiences by being open and transparent. To be open and transparent is also a very vulnerable position…a difficult place to be for anyone. Your strength in being vulnerable and your strength in sharing is wonderful. Thank you. I have more hope for positive change.

    • John B. says:

      Hi Janie – and thanks. It was amazing what I found when I opened up. I have friends who I thought would ride me like a horse about the episodes, and they turned out to be amongst the most supportive. There is the occasional fly in the ointment, but I have found that any distance that has come from people who judge has been a good thing. The one person in particular who shocked me with her reaction (you-are-sick-because-you-feel-bad-about-your-choices) – when I think of it now I wish I had said to her what I say to anybody I talk about it with now: I am going to tell you I am sick, and then we are going to learn about each other.

  13. Agyei says:

    We are like minds indeed. My story is my business, as I have used it to penn a memoir. Put it like this; I have nothing else to lose. What has cost the greatest is now behind me. Employability is lofty, so writing substitutes my livelihood. The random episodes are unexpected inconveniences, at this point. I have my good days and bad. Keep up the great work sir!

  14. John B. says:

    Hi Agyei – great strategy! Even if you did have other things to lose, and I suspect you do – taking your story and turning it into your livelihood is a fantastic new understanding of managing whatever your condition is. Bravo.

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