April 17, 2018
Outline — You won't believe what it does
Above, before Outline.
Try it — I guarantee you'll not only like it, but love it.
If not, contact me and I will cheerfully refund every penny you paid.
Because that's the way we roll here at boj.
BehindTheMedspeak: "How Sky Diving Cured My Depression"
An interesting — to say the least — approach.
The piece follows.
The door swung open 13,000 feet above the Arabian Peninsula, and I was sure this was the worst decision I had made in my entire life. Hindsight has since proven the opposite, but in the moment I recall my uneasiness multiplying as I noticed how calm everyone else in the plane seemed, looking almost like commuters even as one side of the aircraft is replaced by open blue sky high above the Dubai desert.
Suddenly a man in a jumpsuit over by the open door shouted something, but I couldn't quite make it out over the deafening buzz of the propeller engine. The pair of divers across from me must have heard him, however, because they stood up in response.
Linked together by a few carabineer clips, they waddled toward the open doorway. One diver was a middle-aged woman with a British accent. She hung on to shoulder straps that actually attached her to a sunburned Australian instructor. It almost looked like he was her human backpack.
The instructor held on to the sides of the doors and bent his knees, letting the woman sit on his lap. And then: whoosh, they were gone, as if they had never been there at all. The man by the door shouted something again. This time, the burly Persian-Canadian instructor strapped to my side motioned for me to stand.
"Our turn," he shouted.
If you had asked me three weeks earlier whether I ever imagined myself jumping out of an airplane, the answer would be an obvious and resounding no.
Except, that is, for Dubai. Years before taking a seat on the only airplane I didn't also land in, I began seeing pictures and videos on social media of friends and celebrities taking their first dive there. Something about the combination of crystal blue water, man-made islands, desert, mountains, glass, steel and the shape it all made from 13,000 feet really stuck with me. Years ago I promised myself that if I ever made it there, I would try a jump, assuming deep down that I was just telling myself that and I really never would.
When I received an invitation to a conference in Dubai last year, I quickly accepted. Then I remembered the promise I had made to myself, and my excitement rapidly turned to fear.
Some self-disappointment may seem a small price to pay in exchange for not having to jump out of an airplane, but at the time I didn’t have much self-esteem to spare. I was depressed. Never diagnosed — the last thing I wanted was mind-altering medication or someone else's opinion — but once I read up on the symptoms, it was hard to deny.
A series of nasty thoughts that had begun as whispers in the back of my head mounted into angry shouts over time. I had moments of happiness and joy over the eight or nine months those dark thoughts haunted me, but as soon as the positive thoughts faded I reverted back into the darkness that had become my default mental setting.
It built gradually, but those dark thoughts vanished in an instant somewhere high above the beaches of Dubai. And I haven't heard so much as a faint whisper from them since the moment I stepped out of the airplane.
When I got home I began doing some research, and was surprised to find that I'm far from alone. In fact, researchers around the world are currently studying the effectiveness of adventure sports in combating anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder — and for the author and counselor Brandon Stogsdill, as a way to help at-risk youths from underprivileged communities overcome childhood trauma.
"In behavioral therapy we talk about that thought process you had as an automatic negative dialogue, which pops in without any effort, and your brain will create literal neural pathways to make that stronger and stronger until we do something to take ourselves out of it," he explained over the phone from his office in Seattle.
According to Mr. Stogsdill, depression makes it hard for one to concentrate on the present moment. Instead the depressed brain is constantly dreaming up negative future scenarios or dwelling on traumatic past events. "The healthy thing is to focus on the moment, because we have more control in the moment, and when you’re sky diving you can only focus on right now," he said.
There are a variety of depression types and levels of severity, he added, and while some may need only high-adrenaline activity to jolt their brains back to a non-depressed state, it is by no means a universal cure.
For sufferers of less extreme depression, however, action sports like sky diving are very effective ways to rewire the brain’s focus back into the present moment. Of course, it's not the only method. Mr. Stogsdill often counsels underprivileged youth on the ski hill, and found painting an effective tactic for focusing his thoughts on the present moment and combating depression after a BMX accident rendered him temporarily immobile.
When I signed the intimidatingly long waiver at the flight school in Dubai, I had no idea that I would land back on earth feeling like a completely new person, or at least back to the person I was before my battle with depression began. While the initial adrenaline rush does provide some immediate relief, the dive had a much longer-lasting impact on my general outlook. It allowed me to think clearly for what felt like the first time in months, and reaffirmed something I had once known about myself, but had forgotten somewhere along the way.
In essence it completely changed my relationship with fear, which had become a very regular part of my daily life through the depressed period.
In those months of darkness I was too afraid to put myself out there, but you know what’s scarier than rejection? Jumping out of an airplane. I was too afraid to take risks, but you know what’s scarier than failure? Jumping out of an airplane. I was too afraid to talk to anyone about, much less write and publish a story about, my battle with depression, but you know what’s scarier than being vulnerable? Take a guess.
I survived the scariest thing I can image doing, and now I feel like there’s nothing left in this world to be afraid of.
I've had the button in the photo up top on my fridge for over 30 years.
Pretty much guaranteed* to cheer me up when I glance at it.
*Except when I'm profoundly depressed
is the transformer-like collapsible nature of the device.
They'll never know
$8.99 (tablet not included).