My book, “You Are Not Depressed. You Are Un-Finished.” went live a week ago. It quickly reached bestselling status on Amazon. I am deeply grateful for the interest and support of the backer and readers.
I am even more committed to doing my life’s mandate…helping mankind suffer less; live more.
[The following is an expert from the second chapter of my book, where my life’s mandate began to come into focus. I was in my 20s, single, a graduate student, and a recent immigrant to the U.S. So naïve…I wanted to change the world.]
Not every therapy session goes as expected. I learned this firsthand one day early in my clinical training when I was startled by my client’s blunt and drastic request as we sat down for our session.
In a hushed, pleading voice, the young man leaned forward toward me and said, “I’ve got to get to Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee. Can you help me get there?”
That’s how our therapy session started. My patient was in his mid-twenties. It was our first meeting when I was interning at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City. He had just self-admitted; his first visit. I was assigned to work with him as a counselor. His appearance struck me—handsome, fit, muscular, chiseled body, with jet black hair and dark piercing eyes. He wore a skin-tight, white, clean crew neck T-shirt, wearing fit faded blue jeans. He was unlike any other patient at the hospital. I first thought he looked like the classic movie star James Dean or a male model on the Gentlemen Quarterly magazine cover. My second thought was, “Man, what are you doing here? This is a place for crazies. You don’t belong here.”
He shared that he had gone to the top of the Empire State Building earlier that day, the second tallest skyscraper in New York City at the time, intent on leaping to his death. At the last moment, he felt frightened and backed off. He was not sure why. He then rushed to Bellevue because he knew he might otherwise commit suicide. He also shared that he was deeply lonely. Half Native American, his family abandoned him, and he went from one foster family to the next. He suffered repeated abuse in his adopted homes.
As he stated, his “last hope” was to get to Milwaukee quickly to find work at the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant as a mechanic. He did not have any training as a motorcycle mechanic, had never been to Milwaukee, and had no money for a bus ride. He had never owned or been on a motorcycle. He didn’t know how to ride one.
Most remarkable for me was seeing how intensely my patient wanted to fulfill his goal, like an obsession. He was clearly sensing an inner pull. I spent most of the afternoon speaking with him. Given my role, I was supposed to spend about an hour with him. Something told me I should spend much longer with him, not leave him alone, and hear his story. Years later, I realized I had made the right call that day.
I spoke with the admitting psychiatrist later that afternoon about his diagnosis. He had written: major depressive disorder and suicidal thoughts. He also recommended he be admitted to the inpatient unit, be put on suicide watch, and be prescribed multiple medications. The psychiatrist told me, “We would need first to treat his depression so he can go back out there and rebuild his life.”
Later on, I discussed the diagnosis with my patient. His reply startled me. He said, “Hell yes, I am depressed. What do you expect? I have been abandoned and lost all my life. I have no home, place, or anyone to go to. I am all alone. My only hope is getting a job at Harley-Davidson.”
“He has a point,” I thought. His depression was not the cause of his emotional struggle but rather the consequence of it. He had lived a broken life all along. His mind was not broken. He desperately wanted to find a way out to Milwaukee to save himself.
That young man was one of the first patients whom I worked with at Bellevue. I have forgotten many details of our sessions. But I vividly remember his burning quest to break through his fog of depression to save himself. I was on the same quest myself. I just did not know it back then.
It has taken me decades to finally become clearer about my “Harley-Davidson” yearning and walk the path. I am still trekking.
How are you getting to “your” Harley-Davidson plant?
This book helps enrich leadership, coaching, therapy, team dynamics, and interpersonal interactions.
The paperback and audiobook will be available in the upcoming weeks.
I would be honored to have you read my book, recommend it to others, share your thoughts, and provide an Amazon review.