Batman and J.R. Ewing Battle a Common Enemy

sketch of batman with bats flying out of his cape
Iconic figures, Batman and J.R. Ewing, battled a common foe in theaters and on televisions across the world this summer – depression.  The portrayal of their battles provides a fantastic glimpse into the life of someone faced with severe and prolonged depression.

In Bruce Wayne, we see a tragic hero in The Dark Knight Rises who not only lost the love of his life in Rachel Dawes, but also his reason for living – fighting crime as The Dark Knight – taken away.  That double-whammy combined with the traumas of childhood plunged him into years of depression that left him isolated, stripped of all joys in life, and even more susceptible to the physical wear and tear his bodied suffered in battling Scarecrow, Joker, and the League of Shadows.

Likewise, in the revival of Dallas this summer we saw the unthinkable in early episodes: J.R. Ewing withering away alone, powerless, and not even a shadow of the former hard-driving, take-on-the-world SOB that we came to love and hate in the 80s.  For J.R. it wasn’t the loss of romantic love that drove him into depression but loss of Ewing Oil, South Fork, and the power that came from the fear he instilled in his enemies.

Photographic sketcing of JR EwingIn both cases, loss triggered their descent into depression but it was ultimately the lack of purpose and the loss of hope that kept them captive to it for years.  This despite vast resources that could have helped them get the best of treatments that medicine has to offer.

Nevertheless, both emerged from the shadows of depression and it was because they found renewed purpose in life.  For Batman it was the absolute necessity to save Gotham from the villain Bane and for J.R. it was the hope of rebuilding Ewing Oil with the discovery of vast deposits under South Fork, not to mention the opportunity to “teach” his son the rough and tumble oil business.

There is no silver bullet for dealing with depression but the lesson of their stories is obvious: finding a purpose (or a compelling goal) that speaks to the core of one’s self can be an invaluable key to winning the battle with depression.

Fantastic Artwork Courtesy of:

The Dark Knight Rises by The Fresh Doodle

J.R. Ewing by Sbsiceland

Seagulls and the Road to Hell

Seagulls in flightIt’s cliche but they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For many individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression that is proven true year after year. I think a short story from Andy Andrews’ The Noticer will illustrate the point nicely.

The wise and enigmatic Jones sits down with Henry to offer some advice on his latest predicament and begins with a riddle.

Jones: “Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many are left?”

Henry: “Well … four”

Jones: “No. There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.”

Jones Continues: “Listen carefully to me. Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly way, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There is no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

And this has what to do with anxiety and depression?

How many times have you intended to do any of the following, but never did:

  • Find a new therapist who better suits you (or go to one for the first time)
  • Get into a regular fitness routine to drop 50 pounds while burning off some of that anxious energy
  • Give meditation, yoga, tai chi or other disciplines a chance
  • Ask for help and support from family or friends to help you through a rough period

I’m as guilty as anyone. Only recently have I returned to the gym after an 18 month layoff that was due in part to foot injuries. Of course, that was a convenient excuse as I could have continued working out in ways that didn’t stress my injuries. There were other excuses as well, but the fact remains that despite all my intentions to get back into the gym I gained 20lbs over the past year.

If you could pick one unrealized intention – just one – to focus on for six months what would it be?

Post Inspired by: Andy Andrews The Noticer

Photo Credit: Maltesen under Creative Commons

Finding Your Inner Teddy Bear

Garfield has his teddy bear and Linus (Peanuts) has his ever-present security blanket. How about you?
Garfield with his Teddy Bear






Do you have an item that you cherish and keep nearby for those moments when anxiety or depression risk overwhelming you?  Perhaps a special ring, a cross, a photo of a loved one, or maybe a note card with an inspirational quote?

It’s something I thought about for myself and I would love to have something like that to carry with me but nothing has ever struck me as being ‘just right’ or meaningful enough.  A few times I’ve wondered about using my law school class ring, but of course I need to lose 30lbs for it to fit. 🙂

Seriously, such an item can be a great way to ground yourself in difficult moments.  For some, it might serve as focal point for meditation or breathing exercises.  For others, the positive emotions attached to the object may be sufficient to help one begin to relax and get back into the moment.

So if you don’t have a teddy bear, security blanket or special keepsake then what’s holding you back?  If you do have a special item that you keep nearby then let us know in the comments.

Of course, one can take it to extremes like this youngster from Mr. Mom.  Enjoy!