June 30, 2016

Sports are like life: Encouragement works; yelling does not

By Jack Smith

This has everything to do with mental health and nothing to do with mental health. Publishing here because several folks asked me to. 

I posted this on Facebook last night after an experience with little league baseball.
Sports are a lot like life. The battles we learn to fight there may help us when we face far more imposing opponents, like disappointment, loss or mental illness. 

We can all use good coaches to help us through the hard times.
Couple observations about youth sports and coaches.

1. Encouragement works. Yelling does not. (Watch elite coaches who've won National Championships up close and personal and you'll learn this lesson).

2. Children have good memories. So don't tell them one thing before the game and another after a loss. That's called hypocrisy. Kids may not know how to spell it but they know how to smell it. From left field.

3. Respect must be earned. Not demanded.

4. Kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. About them. Not the game you are trying to win to prop up your own ego.

5. It's not possible to be objective about your own children. So guard against that blind spot. Everyone else sees it from 10 miles away.

June 5, 2016

Top 10 Tips for Fighting Depression: Keep Fighting

The Greatest reminds us all: Keep fighting. Even when your back is flat on the mat.
By Jack Smith

The death of Muhammad Ali moved me in unexpected ways. He was brash and cocky, but he backed it up. I love Ali because he stood for something—whether you liked it or not. He didn’t care.

He did what HE thought was right. He didn’t spend his days trying to please others or tell them what they wanted to hear. (Paging Jack Smith!)

We can learn a lot from Ali’s life and boxing career.

You know what I learned?

There’s greatness somewhere inside of me even when I can’t see it. All I have to do is never quit searching for it—even when I’m face down on the mat like Joe Frazier after taking a right hook from The Greatest champ who ever lived.

So I credit Ali and a new blog friend who reached out to me a while back from far away and told me I have to keep writing. He said men need help more than I know, and my blog for some reason helps them. Or at least him.

His outreach inspired me to get this post up today. It reminded me that I write this blog to give people hope and help me cope.

So I’m sharing my list of Top 10 Tips to Battle Depression. These are things I try to do in my battle with depression and anxiety. I hope it helps.

I rarely do them all at once. Sometimes my report cards reads like an old “Leave it to Beaver” episode. Wally brings home all A’s. The Beave brings home Bs and Cs—at best. I’m more like The Beave than Wally most of the time.

Here goes, with apologies to Wally for any typos. Posting without much editing is exposure therapy for me:

1. Exercise. Running was once a passion, and it always helped me. It’s like a mental flush. Running is like rebooting my crazy computer, giving me calm and focus. I just started back after a stint on the Disabled List.

I’m already addicted again. You don’t have to run. Swim. Walk. Cycle. Do something even when you don’t feel like getting off the couch—especially when you don’t feel like getting off the couch.

2. Set realistic goals. I try and write down 3 things each night I need to do the next morning. I always start with an easy one. Like “text Fred and tell him Happy Birthday.” It gives me positive momentum. Add one or two things that must be done, like pay the water bill. Do this before bed. It will help you sleep.

3. Get a massage. I don’t know what the research says, but I know what my mind and body think. A good massage always helps me feel better physically and mentally. Even emotionally.

4. Take my meds: All of them. I now use “PillPack,” a fantastic mail-order service for prescriptions. They handle it all. I never deal with drug stores anymore. Pill Pack fills and refills them all and mails me little plastic envelopes that are so easy a monkey could do it.

The one I just ripped open and took said “8 AM Sunday.” It has today’s date and a list of them. You tear out the envelopes you need for each day. No more bottles. I highly recommend PillPack.

5. Focus on family: It’s different in divorce, but I’m happiest if I can really focus on my kids when I’m with them. It’s hard for all of us to turn down the white noise and not worry about things. It’s hard for me, too. But I try mindfulness tips like focusing on the details of what they’re saying or watching what they are doing, noticing the little things. It helps.