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Thursday, May 28, 2015

New and Improved

Well, I've got some exciting news! After a year and a half, I'm completely redesigning this website. The new look will be live on the night of May 31. But that's not the only thing going on that day.

I'm inviting you to a free event where I'll be speaking at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in San Diego, CA at 6:30 p.m. Go to my Calendar page for more info. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

How to Talk to Your Kid About Depression

One of the most common questions I'm asked from parents is, "How do I know if my kid is depressed?" To which I reply with something like, "Look for the signs and talk about it openly."

One of the most common follow-up questions from parents is, "What if they're hiding it really well and don't want to talk about it?" And this is where the going gets tough. But there are ways to bring up the subject, do what's right for them if they're suffering, and find recovery.

But why should you bring up the subject at all? Because according to the CDC, more than one in four (29.9%) of high school-age students are suffering from clinical depression, and once they turn 18, you have no control over their medical decisions. I've seen firsthand how parents lose all ability to help an adult child. So statistically speaking, if you have four kids, one might be depressed. I know in reality it doesn't work exactly like that, but the possibility is there.

A good approach is to mention the topic of depression in age-appropriate discussions, which serves to remove the stigma. Then if your child experiences any symptoms, there won't be hesitation in communicating it to you. This should lead to assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. That's the best possible scenario (other than not being depressed at all). However, I again realize reality doesn't always work that way.

A less acceptable outcome is that your teen suffers quietly and is completely resistant to treatment. This is tough, but not impossible to handle.

Let me tell you what made the biggest difference to change my thoughts about my parents once I entered treatment. Most importantly, they always expressed their love and reinforced those words with actions. Doing what's best for me even when I was not happy about it. Of course, they did this for my mentally healthy siblings as well, but with me, they were even more sensitive and careful about doing what was best. They also chose their battles. They didn't try to fix everything at once. And after a while, my impression slowly changed. But it took time. 

Keep in mind that St. Monica prayed for her son, St. Augustine, for 17 years before he gave up his wild and harmful life for a deeper search of truth and happiness. Persistence pays off.

I want to give you hope that healing and recovery can come. Persistence and patience can lead to a future of contentment, success, and a contribution to society for your child.

Accept that depression is real, and it can impact your own children, relatives, neighbors, or friends--and something needs to be done about it. Use your judgement and be aware. Do what's right for your kids. Love them. 

And be strong for them.

Friday, May 15, 2015

4 Days, 6 Talks

Yes, you read that right. This was a pretty busy week for me, but boy, was it awesome! Speaking to the students of Carlsbad High School twice on both Tuesday and Thursday, and to their parents Monday night, was a highlight in my life. They were an amazing set of teens and parents. I also spoke at the San Bernardino Diocese Behavioral Health Conference. So happy I could give my testimony to all those church leaders!

Talked to so many people after the San Bernardino conference

The first day at Carlsbad High...

...and the last day at Carlsbad High.


A big thank you to PTSA President Kym Szalkiewicz for not giving up in finding days to schedule my talks at CHS!

Oh, and today is the feast day of this ministry's patron, St. Dymphna!

What a fantastic week of spreading hope and saving lives!

Monday, May 11, 2015



The first video of my new series is now online! Please share this with your family and friends as a resource to help them learn a little bit more about depression and mental illness (and don't forget to add #unleashthesigns to your social media posts). You'll also hear more details of how I overcame certain symptoms of my depression.

Look for the second installment next month.

(If you're one of my awesome subscribers and you're reading this in an email, please click here to watch the video on my website)

Monday, May 4, 2015

Signs--The New Outreach

Do you enjoy watching videos?

Great! Because next week I'm kicking off a brand new video series, "Signs".

Signs will be a fun, informative way to learn about a particular symptom, how to recognize it, and practical tips on how I was able to alleviate it. I'll also share a relevant bit about what I've been up to.

The first episode will be released next Monday, May 11. Let's make this epic!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Awareness Leads to Prevention

Starting today, we're entering May, also known as Mental Health Awareness Month. It's a great month for us because one of the main goals of this ministry is to spread awareness about the reality of teen depression and suicide, so those who are experiencing this mental illness can find hope and healing. That's what we're all about.

And this month, I'm incorporating some awesome tools to help us in this mission. Starting on May 7th, I'm hosting monthly support groups for teens and parents in San Diego (click the "Support Groups" tab above for more details). I can't wait for those to begin! Finding others who can relate during this time of despair and confusion is a good way to speed up the healing process. I know it will help me as much as the other attendees.

I'm also speaking to the students and parents of Carlsbad High School in two weeks. Last time I checked, that was about 3,000 teens. Pretty cool, huh?

Filming my brand new video series
And last but not least, I'm so excited about a new video series I'm announcing soon. I've come to realize the info I give in my talks is vital, but I can't reach every single person in the world. That's why I'm highlighting details in my talks and posting them online in this sweet format to be accessible to everyone.

May's going to be epic.

Are you ready?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Power of the Truth and the Spoken Word

The other day, I was thinking of why we, as humans, listen to speakers. Why do we hire people to talk to us when the speaker could just as easily write an article and reach a larger audience without even leaving their homes? Why do we go out of our way to listen to someone talk for an hour or so, when it's hard to sit still for five minutes in some social situations?

Why are good speakers in such high demand?

And as I pondered this, I came to the realization that we all yearn for truth. The truth to set us free from whatever we're suffering from. And that's what we rely on speakers to do--give us the truth about an issue or subject. We want someone to stand directly in front of us, connecting with us on a personal level, rendering themselves vulnerable to help us reform our lives. We yearn for someone to guide us because we know that we fall and make mistakes. We desire the truth with an insatiable hunger.

That's why speakers have such a huge responsibility. Give one piece of wrong information and thousands can be led astray. 

I didn't quite realize this until a psychiatrist approached me after one of my recent talks and told me that he was amazed with the accuracy of details I presented. He had no advice to offer to improve it. I was blown away. I work hard to make sure the information I convey is factual and helpful, but that reassurance reminded me of the power I hold in the microphone.

And I'm going to take advantage of that power--for the good of my audience.

So they can hear and see the truth.

So the truth can set them free of this disease we call depression.