Feeling the Christmas struggle

There are plenty of good things to say about the Christmas season. The gathering of families and friends, the lights and music and, of course, the general air of cheer and happiness most people have this time of year; it’s all enough to put me in a good mood.

You’ll notice, however, in that list I didn’t include anything about gifts. That wasn’t an accident.

Don’t get me wrong. There are few better feelings than finding that “perfect” gift for someone. On the other side of it, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who sincerely doesn’t enjoy receiving presents. My problem is, when it comes to the whole gift thing (either side) I’m just simply not good at it.

I’m not good at gift-giving. At all. I know people always say “it’s the thought that counts” and I hope that’s the truth, because most of the time my confidence that I’ve actually found a good gift is pretty low. That always leads to me stressing out over what I should get certain people on my list.

A lot of times, not having a clue what to get usually results in a trip to one of my least favorite places on the planet: the mall. I don’t dislike any one mall in particular. It’s all of them. Shopping is definitely not my thing so wandering aimlessly from store to store not really knowing what exactly it is that I’m looking for usually leads to a great deal of frustration.

I tend to overthink things, so I hate “settling” on a gift for someone. I want it to be thoughtful, practical or at least a source of good entertainment. Even looking for a $2 “Secret Santa” gift had me at the store for much longer than I’ll publicly admit before I finally gave up and “settled” on something.

Perhaps some of my troubles in finding good gifts come from the fact that I’ve got to be a pretty annoying person to buy for myself.

I’ve never been the type of guy who wants a whole lot of “stuff.” When I have a little extra spending money, I’m much more prone to spend it on experiences rather than some sort of tangible item. I’d rather take a trip, buy tickets to a ballgame or concert or even just go out for a nice meal than just buy something for myself.

Each year, I dread getting the inevitable request for a Christmas list. It isn’t that I don’t want anything, but most of the things I can think of are usually expensive, big-ticket items that I really can’t afford to buy myself. Because of that, asking other people to get it for me always makes me feel a little guilty, if not even a little selfish.

Still, somehow the people who buy me gifts manage to come up with great ideas and I’m yet to be disappointed. Perhaps the same lightning bolt of inspiration that seems to hit them will find me in the coming days. In the meantime, I’ve got some shopping to do.

The realities of a fantasy problem

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one.

Folks, I have a problem.

I sit here Tuesday afternoon at my desk, knowing full well that I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I used to have some issues with insomnia and, though that’s mostly cleared up now, on rare occasion I still struggle to fall asleep at night. Usually these nights happen when I have something weighing heavily on my mind. Sometimes these things are important, other times they’re quite trivial but I can’t seem to stop my mind from racing. Last night, it was fantasy football.

See? I told you I have a problem.

I’d say without a doubt fantasy football is my favorite hobby, as it is for millions of players around the world. For those who aren’t familiar with how it works, you have a certain number of people in your league who choose real professional football players to be on their team. (Usually this is done through a draft). For certain statistical categories in your players’ real game each week, you get points. (For example: If I have Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles on my team and he rushes for 100 yards and a touchdown, he earns 16 points for my team: one for every 10 yards he gains and six for the touchdown.) Each week you compete against another team your league to create a win-loss record.

I’m in a couple different leagues, but the most competitive is definitely a 12-team league that I’m in with some friends that are mostly from my hometown. The league started way back when I was a junior in high school and, aside from a few people, has remained mostly intact. It’s a lot of fun with guys who all know their stuff, but that can also make things very stressful.

In fantasy football, the regular season lasts through Week 13 of the real season with the playoffs taking place in weeks 14-16. I entered last week — Week 12 — in control of my own destiny for one of the last couple playoff spots at 6-5. A win in Week 12 would all but guarantee me a place in the six-team postseason field while a loss would mean I’ll need a win and some help in the final week of the season. In other words, it wasn’t a “must-win” game, but it was close.

Going into Monday night’s games I had a 24-point lead on my opponent. In the games that evening, he had the Buffalo Bills’ defense and Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins while I was using New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram. The odds were on my side as defenses don’t typically put up big numbers and Ingram has been hot lately. When the games finally ended, the Bills had destroyed the New York Jets 38-3 with their defense putting up a massive total of 24 points. Watkins didn’t do much, though, so my chances were still good. Unfortunately, Ingram ran into a stout Baltimore Ravens defense and rushed for only 27 yards while catching two passes for 15 yards. That equated a meager 6.2 points.

I waited until after the games had ended to check the score and — to my horror — I came up a little short. Three-tenths of a point short. He beat me 116.5-116.2 and put my playoff hopes in doubt.

I went to bed racking my brain for waiver wire pickups or trades I could make to better my chances in Week 13. This lasted well into the wee hours of the morning until I finally fell asleep.

With three games Thursday and the last not until Monday night, Week 13 will be a tense one for me. It’s going to be a long week.

Preparing for winter

Cold ‘nuff for ya?

Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. The last two years I’ve been in Kansas during the winter months and, therefore, have been pretty limited in my opportunities to utter that most Minnesotan of phrases. But, I think the unseasonably chilly temps definitely qualify as a time when it applies.

The frigid weather also signals the beginning of the winter athletic seasons for area high schools and at Minnesota West. I must admit, the transition from fall to winter sports has always been the most difficult for me. At work, I know it’s time for me to start focusing on things like basketball, hockey, wrestling and gymnastics, but in my NFL-obsessed personal life, I can’t pull myself away from football — a fall sport. After all, when mid-November hits things are just starting to get good.

As I try to push myself into winter mode, there are some things that I’m looking forward to, however, along with some things I’ll need to re-adjust to.

In Kansas, things were quite a bit different in the winter season. Sure, there was basketball and wrestling. I think that’s pretty much the case everywhere. There was (somewhat obviously) no hockey, no gymnastics (that’s a fall sport there) and there is boys swimming and diving along with bowling. I look forward to covering hockey again. While its replacement sport in Kansas — bowling — was more fun to cover than one might think, it still doesn’t compare to being at the rink. Now, after two years away, I just need to remember how to dress properly for two-plus hours in the cold.

One thing I’ll have to adjust to is thinking of high school basketball in terms of halves rather than quarters. Minnesota made the switch from quarters to halves when I was still in high school and through years of following high school basketball along with a few years covering it, that had pretty much become the norm for me. When I moved, it took a little while to get used to the quarter system again. Now that’s become the norm and I’m sure I’ll find myself botching the proper timeframe at least once early in the season.

While I don’t know if I’m ready to experience another full-on Minnesota winter — the last two years I was only hope the week between Christmas and New Years Day, spending the rest of the season in the typically warmer area south of here — I’m sure it won’t take long for the feeling (“not-feeling?”) of numb extremities and chattering teeth to feel commonplace again. Bring it on.

Oh deer

I’ll be the first to admit, the recap I wrote about the Sheldon vs. Spirit Lake Class 3A playoff volleyball game for last Tuesday’s edition of the Daily Globe was far from the best story I’ve ever written.
As journalists and writers, we’re all our own harshest critics. There have been times where I’ve read one of my stories in print and lost sleep because I felt I could have done a lot better on it. This wasn’t one of those stories. In fact, it might have been the first time in my career where I read through a story, didn’t think it was very good and was actually (kind of) OK with it.
You see, the circumstances under which I wrote that particular story were highly irregular (not to mention ones I hope I’m never forced to repeat.)
Let me explain.
I’d left Spirit Lake at about 8:30 p.m. Monday night, thinking I’d be back to the office at around 9:15 and would have absolutely no trouble hitting our midnight deadline. In fact, I was actually thinking it might be a somewhat early night. I was driving down I-90 about 12 miles east of Worthington as I have plenty of times before when I saw what looked like a large flash of light right in front of my car followed by a loud bang. At the same time, I felt something hit my face. Oddly, I don’t recall really being startled or anything like that. The first thing that crossed my mind was, “What just happened?”
When I finally got my bearings and noticed that my airbags had deployed, it finally dawned on me what had happened. I’d hit a deer.
I pulled to the side of the road, turned on my flashers and got out to assess the damage. It’s safe to say my car wouldn’t have gotten me back to Worthington. (Not legally, anyway. The headlight on the driver’s side is very much smashed in, along with a good portion of the fender and hood.) By the time I made the necessary phone calls, the tow truck driver arrived and got me back to town and was nice enough to drop me off at the office, it was after 11.
A quick aside: I owe a huge thanks to Daily Globe sports editor Doug Wolter. It was his night off, and he went in to do some work on the section so that by the time I got back, I basically had only my story and photos to worry about. He also waited around to give me a ride home. Also, thank you to the tow truck driver from Mark’s Towing and Repair, who was essentially pulled out of bed to come pick me up, as well as — if they’re reading this — the two different guys who stopped to ask if I needed help. (Not to mention my parents, who were willing to put up with my, umm, frustration, over the phone and are allowing me to use one of their vehicles for the time being.)
Anyway, I eventually got back to the office and got the story done, but it was far from perfect. A time-crunch and a mind that’s scattered on all sorts of different things will do that to you.
Perhaps the biggest thing weighing on my mind that night and even still a little today is: Could I have done anything to avoid it? I keep replaying the whole incident in my head, trying to remember if I — even for a second — took my eyes off the road. Did I look down to fiddle with the radio? Did I glance up into the rearview mirror or look into the passenger seat to grab my bottle of Diet Coke? The truth is, I don’t think I did. When people say, “it just came out of nowhere,” that’s what it really is like.
Looking at my car afterward, I did feel somewhat lucky to be completely unharmed. This time of year, the deer are on the move. Be careful on the roads, because it can happen in a flash.

A cynic’s guide to the World Series

The World Series begins Tuesday, and just as we all predicted in April, it’s the San Francisco Giants squaring off with the Kansas City Royals.
As sports fans, most of us are suckers for underdog stories. I’m certainly as guilty as anyone. That’s why over the past couple weeks, like many, I’ve been in awe by what the Royals have accomplished.
Admittedly, I was rooting for Kansas City before the playoffs started. I lived in Kansas for two years, about 100 miles from Kauffman Stadium. I have plenty of friends down there who are diehard Royals fans and going to a game in KC is a lot like it is in Minnesota. They’re a small-market team with a beautiful park and a friendly fanbase. (I know they’re friendly because I went to numerous Twins games there and wasn’t shy about cheering for my team. I never got my lights punched out.)
On top of all that, they hadn’t been to the playoffs in 29 years! To put that in perspective, the last time the Royals took the field in the postseason prior to 2014, I was about three weeks away from being born. That’s a long time.
It’s hard not to cheer for a team like that.
But, unfortunately this blog isn’t a love letter to the boys in blue. Instead, it’s a cautionary tale to those like me who have become temporary Kansas City fans this October (as well as any true Royals fan who happens to read this).
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but what’s happening with the Royals has been done before; and it wasn’t that long ago.
In 2007, many baseball fans — myself included — got wrapped up in a month-long love affair with the Colorado Rockies, and there are plenty of similarities between the two squads.
Like the 2014 Royals, the 2007 Rockies had to take a winner-take-all game to even get into the divisional round of the playoffs. KC had to come back from a four-run deficit against Oakland in the American League Wild Card Game. It did and eventually won in 12 innings on a walk-off hit. Colorado — which, like the Royals, finished 89-73 that season — had to win a one-game playoff against San Diego. That game went 13 innings and ended on a play at home on which I’m still not sure if Matt Holliday ever touched the plate.
Once the Rockies were in, there was no stopping them. They took three straight against a Philadelphia Phillies squad that was loaded with MVP candidates before sweeping a best-of-7 series against an Arizona Diamondbacks team that, again, looked like a lock on paper.
The Royals have done the same. After they beat Oakland, I didn’t think they stood a chance against the Los Angeles Angels, who feature players like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in the middle of their lineup. They won in three. Next up was the Baltimore Orioles, a team that had just beat up on one of the best starting pitching staffs ever assembled in Detroit. (No matter how good your starters are, without a bullpen you’re always vulnerable.) Again, I thought KC would lose. Again, it swept.
Both teams essentially won eight straight do-or-die games as heavy underdogs to reach the World Series. But if history repeats itself, that’s bad news for the Royals. Colorado went on to get swept by Boston, a team that boasted a ton of playoff experience.
Kansas City is preparing to meet up with a San Fran squad that has won two world championships since 2010 and is playing for a third. At first glance, the Giants lineup looks much more formidable with the likes of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.
Now, I realize bringing all this up makes me sound pretty cynical, and that’s a fair judgment. Being a fan of mostly Minnesota teams since age 5 will do that to a guy. The truth is, I just want the hopeless romantic in all of us cheering for the underdog this October to watch with a guarded heart.
That said, I’ve been wrong before. Go Royals!


As adults, there isn’t much that gives us that old-fashioned “childlike excitement.”
That’s probably due in part to the fact that we’ve inherited a more important list of priorities and partially because we’ve been hardened by not living a virtually carefree existence. Right or wrong, the things that get us whipped up in excitement seem to dwindle as we get older.
Friday, I had one of those rare moments that made me want to jump up and down and scream at the top of my lungs like it was Christmas morning and I’d just opened a brand new Teddy Ruxpin. (I did refrain, but there may have been a couple Tiger Woods fist pumps being thrown around.)
All it took to get such a reaction out of me was a text message that read: “I got the tickets.”
It was a message from a friend who spent his Friday morning in an online waiting room trying to secure seats to see Garth Brooks when he comes to Minneapolis in November.
Even as I type this 48 hours later, I can barely hold back my excitement for knowing I get to see Garth live. As a child of the late 80s and early 90s, there were few — if any — musical acts bigger than him while I was growing up.
My taste in music is really eclectic. Seriously, I’m all over the map. I’ve been known to listen to anything from Hank Williams to Eminem and virtually everything in between depending on my mood. That said, when I was a kid my mom listened to country and my dad listened to classic rock. I grew up on Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, so those are the genres I tend to fall back on in a pinch.
The first artist who ever became my “favorite,” however, was without question Garth Brooks. I was no older than 5 years old — maybe younger — when I had every song on my mom’s “No Fences” cassette memorized. I recorded his televised concert specials and watched them over and over. (I remember “You May Be Right” by Billy Joel coming on the radio once and arguing with my dad that it was Garth’s song after he’d performed a cover in one of his TV concerts. I wouldn’t hear it that Joel’s version was the original.)
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve remained a big fan of Garth. I’ve continued to buy any albums he’s put out and can’t bring myself to turn the station when one of his songs comes on the radio. Sadly, since I’ve been old enough to attend concerts on my own, he hasn’t gone on tour. So seeing him live has become a sort of “bucket list” item.
Even as an adult, knowing that I’m finally going to see him sends me to a rare level excitement. For the next month, I’m a kid again.

Be patient with Teddy

Alright fellow Vikings fans, we’ve seen this movie before.

The plot goes something like this: The team is having quarterback issues and doing its best to get the last few ounces out of the tank in a retread from another team. (See: Jim McMahon, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb and, now, Matt Cassel.) Seriously, that list is way longer than it should be, but it has worked to varying degrees. Alas, the team uses a high draft pick on a quarterback who is going to come in, solve all of its problems and be the savior of all things purple. (See: Dante Culpepper, Tarvaris Jackson, Christian Ponder).

While Culpepper did see some success before a devastating knee injury in 2005, the general consensus was that he underperformed for most of his career. The Jackson and Ponder projects both failed as neither was able to prove himself as any kind of long-term solution. In other words, this script didn’t have a happy ending for Vikings fans. In fact, it really doesn’t even have an ending. It just goes back to the beginning and starts over with a new cast.

That brings us to today. During the Vikings loss against New Orleans on Sunday, Cassel went down with an injury and 2014 first round draft pick Teddy Bridgewater was called into action for the first time in his career. He did OK, completing 12-of-20 passes for 150 yards with no interceptions. Later, X-rays on Cassel showed that he had multiple broken bones in his foot, meaning he will be out for a while and, at least in the near future, Bridgewater will be the starter. It’s officially ‘Teddy Time.’

I was excited as anyone when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater in May. He was the quarterback I wanted from the beginning of his junior year at Louisville when speculation began that he was going to enter the draft. But, the thought of him being called upon this early in his rookie year worries me. Believe it or not, part of me even wishes the Vikes would let Ponder start a couple games before throwing Bridgewater into the proverbial fire. I never thought I’d say (or type) that, but I have my reasons. We fans can be a fickle bunch.

When it comes to rookie quarterbacks, I want teams to err on the side of caution. The mental side of sport is something I feel is too often overlooked. Have you ever seen a shortstop who is usually flawless in the field make two bad errors in the matter of a couple innings? How about an excellent putter miss back-to-back 5-footers? The mistakes have gotten into their heads and, rather than just making the play or the putt as they have 1,000 times before, they’re thinking more about “not screwing up again.”

This is particularly important when it comes to quarterbacks. Perhaps the most important intangible a quarterback can have is confidence. Rookies making the leap to the professional ranks have been known to have very fragile psyches. While it doesn’t seem — from what I’ve read and heard, anyway — that Bridgewater has any issues with his confidence, that can happen in a hurry when an entire fanbase turns on you.

Christian Ponder was drafted in 2011 and, when McNabb was floundering through the first few games that season, fans could be heard chanting for Ponder with nearly every incomplete pass thrown. Eventually Ponder got the start and played really well in his first start against a strong Green Bay team. But, just a month later, after coming back down to Earth and having a couple sub-par performances, the Minnesota fans were greeting Ponder with the same boos and jeers that were recently directed at McNabb.

I’m not saying that fans booing Ponder was the reason he never panned out. But, I do feel he lost some confidence when the fans turned on him so quickly and it contributed to his inconsistent play. He was more worried about “not screwing up” than just making the play.

The truth is, there are going to be some growing pains with Bridgewater. He’s not going to come out of the tunnel Sunday against Atlanta and look like Peyton Manning. He’ll make mistakes. He might look brilliant one week and throw four interceptions the next. He’s a rookie, give him time.

Like I said, we’ve seen this movie before. Please, let’s do our part in writing a better ending this time around.

Establishing a silent summer: An epilogue

Way back at the beginning of June, I wrote about my intention to “go silent” for the summer.

No, I didn’t mean that I was undertaking a vow of silence. (Although I’m sure there are some that would appreciate if I did.) I meant that I was logging off of social media for the entirety of summer — from June 2 (one day after I got the idea by reading a brilliant piece by actor/comedian Patton Oswalt) until Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day.

My goal in all of this was to stop spending so much of my free time on Twitter and Facebook in order to use that time for more fulfilling tasks. What exactly that meant, at the time I wasn’t entirely sure. (Frankly, I’m not sure if I do now.)

For me, the jury is still out on how successful of an undertaking this really was. For the first few days — maybe a week — it was a little bit of a challenge. I found myself tempted to take a quick peek at Facebook, or just glance at what people were talking about on Twitter. But, I managed to stay away and it didn’t take long before these things never really crossed my mind.

The reason I say the jury is still out is because I still feel like I could have found better ways to spend my time. Sure, maybe went out in the yard and played with Homer a little more than I otherwise might have. I probably paid closer attention to a few movies and TV shows that I watched and I didn’t have my nose buried in my phone while I was with family or friends. In those aspects, I suppose it was a success.

Still, I’m sure there is a lot more I could have done. Without Facebook and Twitter to turn to, I found myself spending more time on news sites and things like that. However, I probably ended up still reading all the same articles and watching the same videos that I would have stumbled upon through social media. In other words, I didn’t exactly break my bad habit of attempting to read the entire internet every night before falling asleep.

All in all, however, I’m glad I did it. Even now that I have rejoined the social world, I am not checking it nearly as often and when I do, I’m not spending as much time on it.

I’ll chalk that up as a win.

Politics go to the dogs

Earlier this month, the political story of the summer broke right here in the great state of Minnesota.
Even stranger was the fact this particular event happened in Cormorant, a tiny village located in northwest Minnesota between Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids. The folks of Cormorant elected a new mayor in a landslide.
The name of the winning candidate is Duke (and no, he’s not Prince’s son.) He is a 7-year-old Great Pyrenees. Yes, a dog. A total of 12 people paid $1 each to vote in the monumental election, and Duke won fair and square. He won’t be paid a typical mayor’s salary. Instead, a nearby pet store has agreed to compensate him for his service to the community with a year’s supply of dog food.
Unfortunately when I first heard about Duke’s victory in Cormorant, I was at home and saw it on the six o’clock news. Sitting right next to me was Homer, who seemed a little too excited over the news. Before I knew it, what I feared would happen was already coming to be. Homer was drawing up a campaign strategy with his sights set on becoming mayor of Worthington.
I tried hard to talk him out of it but, as most great politicians are, I suppose, he can be kind of stubborn sometimes. He has decided wholeheartedly that politics are his calling in life and, at 7 years old, there’s no time better than the present to get his career started.
With all of that in mind, Homer called in a favor. It’s with some reluctance I make good and print his announcement of candidacy. Here it is, exactly as he dictated it to me:
“I, Homer Robert Hacker, do hereby announce my candidacy for the elected position of mayor in the city of Worthington, Minnesota.
People throughout the nation are seeing the benefits of a canine holding public office. From Bosco, who was elected mayor of Sunol, Calif., in the 1980s to the recent victory for Duke in Cormorant, dogs have proven time after time their ability to be effective, fair and loyal leaders.
“If I am elected mayor, I will personally see to it that some of the biggest problems facing Worthington are addressed immediately.
“My first order of business would be to — along with my canine brothers and sisters — rid the community of all small vermin. The days of squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and our greatest enemies of all, cats, infiltrating our yards would be behind us. Imagine going outside without being taunted by the playful squeaking of a squirrel, high up in a tree where it can’t be dealt with. That day is coming. If need be, I will personally chase them all out of town. (What I would do if I ever caught one, I’m not sure.)
“Another issue I would get to work on right away would be the length of work days for the humans of the community. Personally, I dislike when my human goes to work and I’m left alone at the house. As such, I will encourage all businesses to keep employees at four or fewer hours per day. That allows at least four extra hours of playtime per day, while maintaining a normal 16 hours of sleep.
“Finally, I will gather up all the top scientists in the community to find a way to solve one of our greatest problems of all. Together, we will work to try and find a way to silence that terrifying booming noise the sky makes when it rains. Imagine not having to hide in the bedroom closet whenever it storms. If I’m elected mayor, I will do all I can to make that dream a reality.
“It is with these thoughts in mind that I humbly ask for your support.”
If Homer is to follow in the footsteps of greats like Bosco and Duke, I’m not sure what he might do next. I can only imagine, however, that if he’s victorious in Worthington, he will immediately place his sights on St. Paul — perhaps even Washington.
As you can see, he put quite a bit of thought into this. (As you can also see, his human has an overactive imagination sometimes.)

Learning from a tragedy

Like so many people around the world, I was saddened by the news that actor and comedian Robin Williams had taken his own life early this week.

I’m usually not one to get bent out of shape by celebrity deaths. After all, I didn’t actually KNOW him. But once I started thinking about it, I realized Williams was a pretty big part of my childhood. Aladdin, Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji came out in a four-year span when I was between the ages of 5 and 9. They were all movies I watched over and over again at the time and still love today.

What struck me most about Williams’ death, however, wasn’t the fact that it happened, but how it happened. As many have said, it’s terribly sad that a man who spent the better part of four decades bringing joy, happiness and laughter to millions was unable to do so for himself.

Unfortunately, the disease that caused Williams so much suffering that he eventually decided the only way to relieve the pain was through death isn’t an uncommon one at all. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2012, an estimated 16 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This represented 6.9 percent of all U.S. adults.

I’m far from being an expert on mental health and a psychologist I am not, but it’s something that has always interested me. What is perhaps the most troubling part of depression is how much it goes unreported. I’ve read before that it’s believed only 1 in 3 people affected seek help or even tell anyone there’s something wrong.

The problem with depression, anxiety, etc., is that they are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, thus have no outward warning signs. Many people who suffer are able to put on a “happy face” when they’re around others, never giving anyone reason for concern.

What bothers me is the fact people feel the need to hide it. As I said in the last paragraph, these types of diseases are physical and those who get them are unable to control it any more than someone with cancer or diabetes. Most people wouldn’t feel shame in having the latter two forms of illness, but that isn’t the case with problems affecting the brain.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 54 percent of people believe depression is a personal weakness. So many people believe that when they’re experiencing depression that they “just need to get over it” or “think positively.” Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. It’s these unreported and untreated cases that can so often end in tragedy.

There is a stigma surrounding those who suffer from clinical depression, et al., that they’re “crazy” or that they have some sort of control over their illness. It’s that lack of understanding that causes so many people to hide their pain for fear of what others might think.

It’s my hope that some good may come from Williams’ death. As the numbers of those affected grows, my hope is that the struggle of such a prominent figure will open up some dialogue and lead to a better understanding of what it means to have depression.