Episode 11 – Childhood

TDP Episode 11 websit photoEpisode 11: Childhood, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Jeffrey tells the story of his depression and how he struggled to work though it and keep his family together. Originally aired: Sunday, Jan 31, 2016

On this episode, I mention an article on WebMD, called “Depression Often Starts in Childhood”: http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/depression-often-starts-in-childhood  A conversation with my cousin made me think about whether or not I was depressed as a child. I thought some of you might relate, so I decided to include the article.

Depression Often Starts in Childhood
WebMD Feature Reviewed by Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD

Depression rates are rising and researchers and clinicians now say that depression often begins in childhood.

Kathleen P. Hockey is a licensed social worker who has also suffered from depression. As a parent, Hockey wanted to keep her own children safe from the illness. After a few years of reading virtually everything she could find on the topic of depression, she realized that very little had been written for the general public on childhood depression. Hockey stepped in to fill the void with her book, Raising Depression-Free Children: A Parent’s Guide to Prevention and Early Intervention.

There was a time, says Hockey, when the prevailing philosophy was that kids couldn’t become depressed. That’s no longer the case. “Approximately one of 11 children experience some form of depression by the time they are 14 years old,” says Hockey. “Further, if childhood depression is not prevented or caught early and properly treated, the risk for relapse is very high, with each successive episode growing more severe.”

Kids do suffer from mental health problems, explains Kathy HoganBruen, PhD, senior director of prevention for the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). “Childhood depression is very real and very common, but also very treatable,” says HoganBruen.

In fact, depression affects as many as one in every 33 children and one in eight adolescents, according to the Federal Center for Mental Health Services.

There is no one thing that causes depression in children, according to the NMHA’s Children’s Mental Health Matters campaign. A family history of depression, life stresses such as losing a parent, divorce, or discrimination, and other physical or psychological problems can all contribute to the illness. Children who have been abused, neglected, have experienced other traumas, or suffer from chronic illness are also at a higher risk for depression.

Depression in children often occurs along with other mental health problems such as anxiety and bipolar or disruptive behavior disorders, says David Fassler, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and co-author of Help Me, I’m Sad: Recognizing, Treating and Preventing Childhood and Adolescent Depression. Adolescents who become clinically depressed are also at a higher risk for substance abuse problems.

Children who are depressed may not do well in school, may become socially isolated, and may have difficult relationships with family and friends, Fassler says. Depression in children is also associated with an increased risk for suicide. The rate of suicide among young people has nearly tripled since 1960 and is the sixth leading cause of death among children between the ages of 5 and 14, the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among college students.

According to the NMHA, the following symptoms in children may indicate depression:

  • Frequent sadness, tearfulness, or crying
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
  • Decreased energy level
  • Major changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Increased irritability, agitation, anger, or hostility
  • Frequent physical complaints such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Indecision or inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure
  • Pattern of dark images in drawings or paintings
  • Play that involves excessive aggression directed toward oneself or others, or involves persistently sad themes
  • Recurring thoughts or talk of death, suicide, or self-destructive behavior

If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, you should consult your pediatrician, says Hockey. “Many of these symptoms can also be traced to physical complaints — such as thyroid problems, mononucleosis, immune system disorders, long-term antibiotic use, or chronic, long-term allergies — so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis.”

Infants and toddlers, who are not at the same stage of expressing themselves as older children, may still exhibit symptoms of depression; in their case, says Fassler, pay attention if your child is withdrawn, doesn’t smile, doesn’t want to play, won’t interact with other people, and starts losing weight.

If your doctor does think treatment for depression is indicated, childhood mental health experts emphasize that it’s usually very successful. With a multi-pronged approach of individual, family, and/or school counseling — and perhaps the use of antidepressants — 75% to 80% of children suffering from depression can be successfully treated, says Fassler. Without treatment, he says, many will go on to have a second episode of depression within two years.

Children who are too young to talk can still be effectively treated through play therapy, says Fassler. “Even when kids don’t have words, we can still find out what’s going on.”

Hockey says that childhood depression can be prevented — or at least, the risk factors for depression can be lowered, just as risk factors for heart disease or type 2 diabetes can be lowered.

There are many risk factors for childhood depression, Hockey says. Many of them are environmental and changeable. “Reducing the number of risk factors reduces the chances a child will experience most forms of clinical depression,” she says.

“In addition to the more obvious things like being sure your children eat healthily, get exercise, and are not under unreasonable stress for their age, you can reduce the risk factors for depression by being aware that there are certain life skills, ways of perceiving life events, and problem-solving skills that seem to shield children from depression,” she explains.

Having a depressed parent is one of the most critical risk factors for a child, says Hockey. “Children of depressed parents are four times more likely to experience depression than children with non-depressed parents. It is vital that depressed parents seek treatment for their own depression if they want their children to be depression-free.”

While childhood depression is a serious illness, Hockey says, parents need to know they can do something about it. “Don’t sit back and take a ‘wait-and-see’ approach,” she stresses. “That doesn’t cut it.”


Episode 10 – Happy

Episode 10 photoEpisode 10: Happy, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Amber Dee tells the story of her depression and how she used humor and faith to overcome a physical ailment. Originally aired: Sunday, Jan 24, 2016

On this episode I mention an article about The History of Happiness in The Harvard Business Review. Here’s the link and the full article: https://hbr.org/2012/01/the-history-of-happiness


The History of Happiness

by Peter N Stears

From the January – February 2012 Issue

A modern Russian adage holds that “a person who smiles a lot is either a fool or an American.” It’s true that when McDonald’s arrived in Russia, in 1990, one of its first tasks was to train clerks to seem cheerful. I’ve spent time since with Russian friends, discussing cultural rules on showing happiness, agreeing that differences remain.

The point here is not to disparage Russians. Most East Asian cultures also have lower happiness expectations than Americans are accustomed to. Some Latin American cultures tend in the other direction. The point is that cultural variations on happiness are considerable, contributing to the findings of international happiness polls that dot the contemporary public opinion landscape.

Moreover, attitudes toward happiness don’t just vary; they change. Danes, the current polls suggest, are no longer so melancholy. Exploring the nature of such change not only illuminates our own context for happiness but also allows us to assess its advantages and downsides. Without historical perspective, American expectations seem so normal and so natural that they’re difficult to evaluate.

The fact is that the commitment to happiness in Western culture is relatively modern. Until the 18th century, Western standards encouraged, if anything, a slightly saddened approach to life, with facial expressions to match. As one dour Protestant put it, God would encourage a person who “allowed no joy or pleasure, but a kind of melancholic demeanor and austerity.” This does not mean people were actually unhappy—we simply cannot know that, because cultural standards and personal temperament interact in complicated ways. But there is no question that many people felt obliged to apologize for the moments of happiness they did encounter. Sinful humanity had best display a somewhat sorrowful humility.

This changed dramatically with the 18th century and the values of the Enlightenment. Alexander Pope declaimed, “Oh happiness! our being’s end and aim!” while one John Byrom urged that “it was the best thing one could do to be always cheerful…and not suffer any sullenness.” The charge here was double-edged and has remained so. On the one hand, it was now perfectly legitimate to seek happiness. On the other, not being happy, or at least not seeming to be, was a problem to be avoided. Ordinary people began writing about their interest “in enjoying happiness and independence.” Disasters, such as the brutal yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, produced recommendations to the survivors to keep up their spirits and avoid excessive grief.

The list of historians working on happiness is not long, but those who’ve tackled some aspect of the subject generally agree: At the level of rhetoric, at least, a significant shift occurred in Western culture around 250 years ago.

The obvious question is why, and while some causes are pretty clear, we probably still fall short of a fully satisfactory explanation. Components include, certainly, the intellectual shift toward a higher valuation of matters in this world and a reduced commitment to traditional Christian staples such as original sin—all part of the cultural environment created by the Enlightenment. It’s important to stress that the happiness surge was not antireligious; a key component was the new idea that being cheerful was pleasing to God. The 18th century also saw some measurable advances in human comfort for the middle classes and above, ranging from better home heating to the availability of umbrellas to provide shelter from the rain. (Only a few British traditionalists objected to the latter as undermining national character.) One historian has also noted the 18th century as a time of improved dentistry, when people became more willing to lift their lips in a smile; he argues that the ambivalent smile of a Mona Lisa probably reflected embarrassment at tooth decay. The several shifts driving the happiness surge were powerful enough to propel happiness into politics by century’s end, with the American revolutionary commitment to the pursuit of same.

The smiling American was becoming a stereotype two centuries ago….

Indeed, there seems to have been a bit of an American twist on all this even early on. A British journalist in 1792 was surprised at “the good humor of Americans,” and 40 years later another noted that Americans seemed unwilling to complain, for the sympathy they might gain would be outweighed by their friends’ disapproval. It was in the 1830s that Harriet Martineau, often described as the first female sociologist, professed amazement at how often Americans tried to make her laugh: One stranger “dropped some drolleries so new to me, and so intense, that I was perplexed what to do with my laughter.” The smiling American was becoming a stereotype two centuries ago, as a new nation sought to justify its existence by projecting superior claims to happiness. It was no accident that this same new nation, at this same point, quietly revolutionized the approach to death by introducing the garden cemetery, where people could gain a sense of contentment, if not happiness, as they contemplated the end of life.

All of this constituted the first stage in the emergence of modern Western happiness, but there were further stages, building even greater potency into the culture that still claims us. During the 19th century, although the commitment to happiness in general did not escalate, there were important applications to facets of daily life.

The new middle-class work ethic came close to arguing that work should be a source of happiness. There was some complexity here: Horatio Alger stories of the beauties of work also pointed to higher earnings and social mobility—not just intrinsic happiness—as rewards. But it was convenient for a rising class to believe that working people had no reason not to be happy and that laziness and bad habits disrupted not only performance but also contentment.

The happiness surge applied even more clearly to family life. Now that the family began to play a decreasing economic role, as jobs moved out of the home, it took on new emotional responsibilities. Wives and mothers were urged to maintain a cheerful atmosphere in order to reward their hardworking husbands and produce successful children. Moralists told husbands and wives alike to keep anger away from family life. The rising American divorce rate of the later 19th century owed much to expectations that family reality often could not match—another problem that has hardly disappeared.

Americans also took the lead in efforts to reconcile death with the demands for happiness. The idea gained ground that heaven was a happy place marked by, among other things, blissful reunions with departed family members. This was an intriguing redefinition of spiritual rewards, clearly designed to reduce the need for extensive fear or grief. Its logic, in the context of the ascending culture of happiness, helps explain its persistence in popular religious culture to this day—even to the point where, in a recent funeral service, deceased family pets were assumed to be part of the celestial scene.

With these various developments, the claim of happiness on the culture was established. But the history was still not complete, for there was yet another surge, particularly in the United States, from the 1920s onward. A vast literature began to emerge that stressed simultaneously the importance of being happy, the personal responsibility to gain happiness, and the methods available. Titles, over several decades, included monuments like 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, Happiness Is a Choice, and A Thousand Paths to Happiness (with claims that this was an “emerging science”). Targeted programs ultimately included Happiness for Black Women Only, The Ladder Up: Secret Steps to Jewish Happiness, Gay Happiness, and, for the emotional omnivore, Find Happiness in Everything You Do.

The push went beyond popular books and articles. The cultural commitment to happiness promoted new efforts to associate work with happiness, through experiments in human relations techniques or just piped-in music. It inspired new workplace standards that instructed white-collar employees and salespeople in the centrality of cheerfulness. It spawned new commercial empires such as the Walt Disney Company, whose corporate motto became “make people happy” and whose employees convinced customers that they were already happy simply because they were in a Disney setting. It prompted “happy meals.” It spurred an advertising executive, Harvey Ball, to create in 1963 the yellow smiley face, which took off even in the wake of the Kennedy assassination and whose annual licensing revenues exceeded $50 million within the decade. It helps explain another American invention, the laugh track, to assure people they were happy even when comedy fell short. Along with technological improvements in photography, it prompted new standards for public poses, with smiles all around, whether at family outings or in politicians’ mug shots.

The happiness imperative also spread to childhood, another area where cultural norms have become so powerful that it may be hard to imagine historical contrast. Traditionally, childhood and happiness were not generally associated. Again, this does not mean that past children were less happy, but it does mean that their happiness was not obligatory, often not vividly remembered in adulthood, and certainly not any parent’s responsibility. Even the Enlightenment turn to happiness did not initially penetrate childhood, where work and obedience continued to hold pride of place. Only in the early 20th century were child-rearing manuals filled with chapters on the happiness of children. Among the exhortations: “Happiness is as essential as food if a child is to develop into normal manhood or womanhood”; “the purpose of bringing-up in all its phases should be to make the child as happy as possible.” There was some tension in the new common wisdom between a belief that children were naturally happy (all an adult had to do was not spoil things) and a nagging worry that childhood was actually more complicated (parents had to produce the necessary joy). But there was no dissent from the belief that a key responsibility of parents was to solidify the link between childhood and happiness. Revealingly, by the 1940s the concept of boredom shifted from being an undesirable character trait, which good children should avoid, to presenting a challenge for parents. This was also the context in which, in 1926, the song “Happy Birthday” was composed, becoming a family staple by the late 1930s—despite, or perhaps because of, the gloom of the Great Depression.

The escalation of happiness built on the existing culture, but there were other contributing factors. The transition from a largely manufacturing to a white-collar economy played a role, providing more settings in which managers could see happiness as a business advantage. Consumerism was central. All sorts of advertisers (a newly distinct profession) discovered that associating products with happiness spurred sales. This is what most clearly explains why the intensified happiness culture of the mid-20th century has, in the main, persisted to the present day. We’re still supposed to be smiling.

Understanding the happiness imperative as an artifact of modern history, not as an inherent feature of the human condition, opens new opportunities to understand central facets of our social and personal experience. Some undeniable challenges emerge.

The comparative angle is intriguing, especially as elements of the West’s happiness culture have been widely shared. “Happy Birthday,” for example, has been translated into all major languages, and birthday celebrations are now important in the middle-class consumer cultures of China and Abu Dhabi, altering or even reversing prior traditions. Will a happiness surge be part of globalization? We don’t yet know—remember the less-smiling Russians—but it’s a theme worth watching.

Some experts argue that happiness is an inborn trait, so urging a person to become happier is like insisting she become taller.

More important, whether globally or nationally: What does the evolving culture have to do with actual happiness? Here, too, it’s not easy to say. Some experts argue that happiness is an inborn trait, so urging a person to become happier is like insisting she become taller. This probably goes too far. Cultures that stress happiness likely do produce more happy people, but the link is complex and fragile.

The historical evolution of our happiness culture also suggests limitations. We have seen that the translation of happiness norms into family and work expectations produces frustration and disappointment when experience contradicts cultural hyperbole. When too much is expected, less actual satisfaction may result. New norms might also make it harder to confront experiences, such as death, where happiness is hard to find—another vulnerability of contemporary culture.

The happiness imperative certainly hinders exploration of the gray areas of modern experience, and its compulsory quality can misfire. Here are the two clearest downsides.

First, although the most obvious drawback of the emphasis on happiness involves the gaps with re­ality that can, paradoxically, create their own discontents, there’s also the risk that people will fail to explore reasons for dissatisfaction because of pressure to exhibit good cheer. We may miss opportunities to improve situations, for example in work settings, because we assume that problems result from personality and not from more-objective conditions. Those risks suggest the need to cut through the pervasive happiness rhetoric at certain points.

Second, and at least as important, a culture saturated with happiness makes it difficult for people to deal with sadness, in themselves and others. A sad child is a comment on the parents—the source of that modern scourge, the “unhappy childhood.” But what of children who are sad or who go through periods of sadness? What are their acceptable outlets? The same applies to adults. We know that at least a quarter of depression diagnoses are mistakes, confusions of normal sadness with a pathological state. Indeed, some depression may result from the difficulty of manifesting a more modest dose of sadness, making it “easier” to drift into outright illness.Every cultural system has drawbacks to go with the advantages that facilitated its adoption in the first place. Seeing a culture as the product of historical change is an invitation to step back, assess, and then consider further change. We may not wish to alter the happiness culture that modern history has bequeathed us; its considerable problems may be outweighed by the pleasure of having cheerful artifacts and smiling faces around us. But we can at least consider the possibility of modification. In our happiness culture there might yet be, after a couple of centuries of acceleration, room for improvement.


Snap Out of It!

This is a great video from HopeForDepression.org

I feel so lucky that my friends and family have been pretty unanimously supportive and kind since I started admitting that I am depressed. The only thing that has bothered me is cheerful advice, and even then I know that it comes from a kind place. Here in Tucson, it seems that people think if you are having a problem with depression, you just aren’t evolved enough in your spiritual path… you need to meditate more, eat differently, get energy work, acupuncture, medication, herbs, etc.

The thing about depression is that you know you need to do a bunch of things differently in your life, don’t we always have a hundred ways we could be healthier, better, more evolved, more spiritual, and kinder to ourselves and others. However, when you have depression, you don’t feel up for anything, even regular daily tasks like doing the dishes, none the less starting some new regime that will make you a more evolved and happy person.

So, while I appreciate loving advice, most of the things people suggest, I am either already doing, have tried already,  have read about, or just don’t feel up for trying right now. Mostly what people with depression want is to know they are loved and supported in where they are with things right now. Actually, isn’t that what we all want?

-Laura Milkins

Football player Clemson C Jay Guillermo talks about his depression to CBS

Great article from CBS News: Original Article

Clemson C Jay Guillermo hopes fight with depression inspires others

January 8, 2016 11:50 am ET

Clemson center Jay Guillermo couldn’t shake the suicidal thoughts in his mind last year.

He never had a specific idea of how to kill himself, nor did he ever try to take his life, he says now. But the fact Guillermo entertained these thoughts are difficult for him to explain a year later since he got treated by counselors and therapists for depression and alcohol abuse.

“To me at the time — and now I don’t think this way — suicidal thoughts were almost calming,” Guillermo said. “It’s weird. I don’t really know how to describe it. It’s something that made so much sense then. That’s what depression does. It makes you think crazy thoughts and things that are insane become rational, and they’re not.”

A year ago, Guillermo wanted nothing to do with football; he quit school during a period of heavy drinking and went to live with his mother in North Carolina. On Monday, he will anchor Clemson’s offensive line against Alabama in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.

The story isn’t as simple as connecting dots from his struggles to the recovery. Depression never is that easy. Guillermo has talked publicly about his battles throughout this season, largely to help others suffering from depression. In truth, talking also helps him.

“It’s almost been like a therapy for me to come out and talk about,” Guillermo said. “There’s no miracle cure for depression. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Yep, I feel great.’ You can feel fine for months at a time and feel depressed again and fall into that trap. It’s an ongoing battle.”

Guillermo noticed his depression starting during the 2014 season after he broke his foot. While he sat out, Guillermo let his body go and drank alcohol excessively, which he said occurred as a coping mechanism for his depression. He said he would binge drink two or three times a week, sometimes with his friends, other times alone.

“I didn’t really have to go do football so I was like, why not?” he said. “I knew I could suffer through school, so I said, ‘Why not go out and drink on a Tuesday night?’ I started doing it more and more and it eventually got to a point I knew I needed to slow down or it will grow into a monster and that will be another problem I have.”

Christie Clary, Guillermo’s mother, noticed her son become more withdrawn as his body started breaking down. His weight ballooned to 363 pounds (he now weighs 302). His vitamin D was depleted. He had thyroid problems. His cholesterol was through the roof. His blood pressure skyrocketed to 190 over 100, meaning he was almost at stroke stage.

“His whole body was completely out of whack,” Clary said. “He was questioning everything.”

Guillermo needed help.

Leaving Clemson for assistance

One out of every four college students suffers from some form of mental illness, including depression. Forty-four percent of American college students report having symptoms of depression, yet 75 percent of college students don’t seek help for mental health problems. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for college students.

Now add the pressure of major college football into the equation for a student. Throw in a sports culture in which seeking help for depression is often viewed as a sign of weakness, and you’ve got a ticking time bomb for some athletes.

Athletes who become injured can lose the identity of who they are and spiral into depression and anxiety, NCAA chief medical officer Brian Hainline said. The NCAA plans to soon roll out best practice guidelines for the mental health of college athletes. That includes preemptive measures such as coaches, athletic medical providers, campus mental health officials and faculty athletic representatives all meeting at the start of each year to be on the same page.

Guillermo said there are Clemson teammates who have fought depression, too. He remembers not liking to talk about his problems when he was struggling so he gives them their space but lets them know he’s there if they want.

“Everyone knows (depression) is there but no one really wants to talk about it because it does have a stigma,” Guillermo said. “It’s something that really does need to be talked about because it affects so many people. I can’t count on all my fingers and toes how many people have come up to me and said they really appreciate my story and it helped push them through whatever battle they went through.”

By early January 2015, Guillermo had told Clemson coach Dabo Swinney he wasn’t sure he wanted to play football anymore. Guillermo was a high school All-American and rated by some recruiting services as the No. 1 center in the country, but football had lost its meaning to him. He stayed in school about another month before deciding to go home, remembering how his stepbrother killed himself less than a year earlier.

“I saw what my father and my stepmother went through, and that’s another reason they wanted me to get help,” Guillermo said. “I didn’t want to have to put my family through that again. It broke my heart.”

Swinney told Guillermo that when — not if — he returned to Clemson, he would still have a scholarship even if he never played football again. “I was thinking of ways to get money to finish school,” Guillermo said. “To hear him say that kind of put me at peace.”

Clary recalled the early weeks of Guillermo returning home as “crazy.” Guillermo started having nightmares, horrible night sweats and insomnia.

The “bad thoughts,” as Clary described them, continued. This wasn’t the mama’s boy she knew who was a homebody with an outgoing personality.

“It was really scary,” Clary said. “When you’ve got a 360-pound person going through what he went through, in your mind you think, ‘If he loses it, we’re not going to be able to control him.’ Thank God that never happened. One day he got mad at me when I said, ‘This isn’t you.’ He said, ‘Well, this is me. I’ve changed.’ I told him, ‘I gave birth to you. I know you. I know your heart and you are going through these things. But this is not you and I am not giving up on you.’”

Finding the right balance with medication was an ongoing challenge. For one thing, Clary believed Guillermo had lost a lot of magnesium and needed the proper nutrients. But she was worried about what medicine he took in case he returned to football because of NCAA drug-testing guidelines. “I kind of got frustrated like, ‘Are you kidding me?’” she said.

Also at issue was how to handle Guillermo’s thyroid and depression. By the end of the 2014 season, Guillermo was on thyroid medication that Clary thinks resulted in his increased blood pressure. He also began taking medication for depression while at Clemson, but it wasn’t making a difference, she said.

“He hated the way it made him feel and decided not to take it anymore,” Clary said. “It’s not smart to just stop taking your medicine. It tore my nerves up, to be honest. I could tell he was a little testy when he did that. I told him the right way was to go to a doctor and wean himself off it.”

Initially, Clary thought Guillermo needed an in-patient treatment center. He went to one in Georgia but hated it and left after one day. He felt the policies were too strict and intense, such as checking every patient to make sure they weren’t bringing in substances. Clary came to believe her son needed a stable place where he could be loved and decompress.

Guillermo still needed help.


Jay Guillermo anchors Clemson’s offensive line. (USATSI)

‘I’m a lot better, but it’s never over’

Brad Wilkerson was once in Guillermo’s shoes. Wilkerson, a childhood friend of Guillermo’s father, played center on the Division III Mars Hill College football team.

When Wilkerson’s alcoholic father died, his life spiraled out of control. He became depressed. He became addicted to methamphetamine. He got into legal trouble. He wound up sleeping under a bridge before changing his life.

The day Guillermo left the treatment center in Georgia, Clary took her son directly to Wilkerson’s North Carolina home for a late-night, heart-to-heart talk at his dining room table.

“Brad challenged Jay,” Clary said. “He looked Jay in the face and said, ‘I know where you’re at. We can help you, but you have to do the work and it’s not easy.’”

Said Wilkerson: “You get a look in someone’s eyes and Jay wanted it. Jay wanted to get well.”

For about four months starting in March 2015, Guillermo got counseling about four days a week at Legacy Freedom Treatment Centers in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Wilkerson serves as the chief operating officer. Clary liked that Legacy Freedom also checks blood work and looks at the biological effects of depression. Most of Guillermo’s counseling was for depression, though there was alcohol counseling as well.

“I wasn’t to the point yet where I was an alcoholic,” Guillermo said. “I was kind of using it to mask my feelings.”

The group meetings were eye opening to Guillermo. They didn’t mirror scenes he had seen on television or in movies when an addict stands up at an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting and gives a lengthy talk. The sessions focused more on teaching and reflection.

Guillermo said he realized his problems were small compared to what other people had. He never would have guessed some of the patients he saw were addicts.

“I feel like addicts get a bad rap for maybe looking like homeless people, and that’s not it,” he said. “It could easily be you or me. These people really inspired me more than I could ever inspire them.”

Guillermo’s recovery also came at home. He said long talks with his grandfather, Ron Greene, about life and football inspired him. Guillermo began working out again and lifted weights at Burns High School in Lawndale, North Carolina, where Greene had been the football coach.

One day, Guillermo felt he needed to do more than lifting so he got an ax from Greene and started chopping pines. That became therapeutic, too.

Swinney stayed in touch with Guillermo and sent him videos of spring practices he was missing. Last July, he returned to Clemson — the school he dreamed of playing football for since he was a kid — for the second semester of summer school and rejoined the team.

When Guillermo started talking publicly about his depression in September, he got flooded with people thanking him for speaking out. Legacy Freedom’s volume of calls for potential patients increased by 20 percent to 30 percent, Wilkerson estimated.

Clary said most of Guillermo’s problems stemmed from him being a perfectionist and too hard on himself. Anytime he made a mistake, especially in football, he would over think what went wrong, make mistakes again and then get upset.

Clary said he doesn’t know exactly the state of mind her son now. She sees a much happier person. She hopes he continues to meet with his counselor after the football season.

“If he can keep his body regulated and eat well and get the medication he needs, maybe he will be OK,” Clary said. “But maybe he won’t. Really, we don’t know. I know he is doing wonderful now. I know that he is very passionate about this. He wants to help young people.”

Guillermo tries to now do more activities that make him happy. Always a jokester, he frequently does impersonations of Swinney and offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell. Before the weather turned cold, Guillermo regularly played golf or went for a run on Sundays the day after a game, or he went hiking, or he went camping — anything to avoid his old routine of sitting around and thinking how bad he felt.

Guillermo said his depression hasn’t been a problem since returning to Clemson. There are still times, though, when he doesn’t have a great practice that he starts feeling down.

“It starts creeping back up, but I kind of know more about how to deal with it,” he said. “I don’t lock myself out from everyone. I go see my friends or start talking about it or I call my mom or my grandfather. They’re a very big part of my recovery.”

Guillermo’s body is filled with tattoos. He’s thinking of getting a new tattoo to remind him of what he experienced — perhaps a tree, which is the symbol of Legacy Freedom. Trees represent life. They also need care.

Guillermo still needs help.

“I’m a lot better,” he said, “but it’s never over.”

Episode 9

Episode 9 photoEpisode 9: Paranoia, by host, Laura Milkins. Our guest, Hanaa Obeidat tells the story of her childhood and adolescent depression and how having a breakdown allowed her to get help. Originally aired: Sunday, Jan 17, 2016

I’ve decided to post each new Episode on The Depression Session Blog. That will allow people to post comments on particular episodes. You can still find all the Episodes on the Listen Page.

In other news. Watch our interview (with me and guest Jennifer Scott) on Arizona Illustrated, tonight, January 17 at 6:30pm on PBS 6.