I cannot even imagine what losing a child to drugs would be like. Lord knows I've thought about it a lot. For a while, I was terrified that it might happen to me. And I'd be lying if I said it's not something I still think about from time to time when I allow my mind to wander out of the moment.
None of my differences with Tom Szasz diminishes my regard for this great man. His insistence on rigorously examining our ideas and his admonitions about the unintended consequences of would-be good intentions are timeless and priceless. His polemical style was a means of stirring -- rather than lulling -- the minds of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
My family did the best they could, but like in many Caribbean and African-American families, the symptoms and afflictions of depression were never addressed. At best, you get prayed over or, in my case, you get offered the option of an exorcism.
Words have meaning and intent, and denial of this fact is ignorant. I believe that in the great cage match of life, enlightenment destroys ignorance, and enlightenment is my truth, my whole truth, and nothing but my truth, in whatever way I choose to illuminate the darkness of my own tightly-locked closet.
Everyone, cancer or not, deals with aftershocks. They can ripple through our lives causing anxiety, depression and a host of other issues until we confront them. After a huge catastrophe in your life it unfortunately doesn't end there; we have to deal with the debris around us.
I can go on forever about how exercise has physically challenged and changed me. But above all, spiritually, this has been a lesson of evolving, facing my fears and feeling deserving to (as my sister says) be proud of and own the body that houses my soul, that takes you to the next day, the next dimension.
My mother was a gentle soul. In her best disciplinary voice, a whisper at most, used one time during my teenage years, she said, "Bill, I wish you would not smoke -- it's bad for you."
I see 7-year-old kids who agonize over what to wear in the morning because they "hate the size of their thighs or their arms." And I work with children who refuse to eat carbs or fats. Who among us even knew what carbs or fats were when we were 6 years old?
If depression is more insidious -- and more misunderstood -- than other disorders, it is because its core symptoms are mental and emotional. This can make it difficult to distinguish the person from the disease, as our thoughts and emotions define who we are.
Our conversation about mental illness needs to be a positive, healthy dialogue, not one laden with shame. As soon as that begins to happen, we'll be able to address these health issues more effectively.
All women have a fundamental human right in the care of their children, and when we are talking about breastfeeding, let's steer the conversation away from breasts and ideas of decency. Let's talk about human rights and the prevention of their perversion and destruction.
Should we know whether or not our kids, or ourselves, are overweight? Of course, just as we should know -- before a mechanical calamity -- that the oil in our car needs changing, or our tire pressure is low.
If you need a little boost -- or if your dog seems to -- try engaging him in a long, loving gaze. If he's the shy type, give him your undivided, loving attention for a half hour. You'll both feel healthier and happier for it!
The patient-centered model needs to replace the practice-centered model. The patient's health should be a higher priority than the doctor's rush to keep moving and fit as many people as possible into his schedule and his practice goals.
It has gotten to a point where I've realized that I cannot play this game anymore. I need to be who I really am behind closed doors for people to understand and help me get better. It has taken me nine years to realize this, which is too long.
The truth is, I still struggle. But, I'm happy to say that there are more good days than bad ones now. As they often say in AA, it's about "progress, not perfection." I have made progress.
We can't help but be a little grateful that his fame is shining a spotlight on the very real but little discussed aspects of Parkinson's. Yet it brings into focus that the disease is more than just what we publicly acknowledge: tremors, rigidity, trouble walking and a host of other motor skills problems.
When we make these habits part of our daily practice, we can view ourselves and the world with more awareness and more gratitude.
Although law students enter school with fairly normal rates of depression (about 8-9 percent), upon matriculation, the rate of depression more than quadruples (to about 40 percent), according to the Dave Nee Foundation, which works to end the stigma of depression among lawyers.