Tag Archives: Mental Illness

My Friend Just Lost his Battle Against Mental Illness; We Need to Talk About it


My September began pretty typically, with a host of meetings with companies preparing their 2017 budgets. This year, one of them stood out.

I had just reconnected with an old friend from high school, and he and I sat down to talk about the important work he was doing with a Colorado-based nonprofit. He was anxious to find out if our team at GroundFloor Media and CenterTable might be able to amplify his team’s efforts.

The meeting went well, and we were in the process of scheduling a follow-up to get leaders from both our teams in the same room. Then the emails and phone calls stopped. Earlier this week, I found out that my friend had tragically lost his life.

I didn’t know this young man nearly as well as others. And as my social newsfeeds overflowed with messages mourning his passing, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to eulogize him as beautifully or as fittingly. I wondered if I should say anything at all.

It was our final chat that ultimately empowered me to write this message.
Read more after the jump…

TEDx, where x=independently organized TED event

There has been a lot of TED activity in the Denver area over the past two weeks. On April 7, TEDxMileHigh hosted its first event, gathering more than 1,700 TEDsters at the Ellie Caulkins’ Opera House. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear and the way we think about diversity in our community, “inspired citizenship” was the theme of evening.

MC Alex Bogusky challenged everyone in attendance to draw inspiration from the speakers – who all hailed from Colorado – and take at least one inspired action out into the community.

Specifically, Libby Burky of SAME Café (stop by the Denver café on Colfax Avenue between Vine & Race streets) gave me the most to think about. An acronym for “So All May Eat” and part of the One World Everybody Eats Foundation, SAME Café offers a “pay what you think is fair” model for fresh, organic cuisine. SAME encourages healthy eating for individuals of all backgrounds – if a diner does not have sufficient money to leave, they are encouraged to exchange an hour of service for their meal, often working side-by-side in the kitchen with community volunteers.

As soon as the weather stays warm, the team from GroundFloor Media looks forward to grabbing B-Cycles and heading down to SAME Café for a group lunch. Stay tuned!

However, the power of TED didn’t end there. Last week, the University of Denver hosted the third TEDxDU Salon event of the year, featuring a diverse lineup of student speakers, who personified the fearlessness and intelligence that have become a hallmark of TED.

Andrew Steward delivered a hearth-wrenching talk about his personal battle with mental illness, challenging established beliefs, and reinforcing the value of family. Throughout his battle, Andrew has rarely been alone, but his family has often been ostracized and abandoned throughout the ordeal.

The stigma of mental illness is real and Andrew was raw as he shared his story for the first time outside one-on-one conversations. His fortitude in battling his illness was eclipsed by the strength of character that he demonstrated in getting on stage last night. His goal? Not TED fame – but to encourage us to think differently about mental illness.

Andrew is one of more than a dozen speakers who are scheduled to speak during the TEDxDU annual conference on May 13. The sold-out event will turn the global TED spotlight on Colorado yet again to celebrate “radical collaboration” – to co-create, co-inspire and co-change the world. Check out the live streaming video at TEDxDU.com.

Honestly, I’m relatively new to TED. I often find myself balancing my overall enthusiasm for TED with the need to listen to each speaker with a critical ear. Some are better than others – go figure – but each shares a passion for “ideas worth sharing”. I enjoy being part of a common sense of connection across cities, countries and continents. And, at 10 to 20 minutes per TED Talk, TED makes it easy to find inspiration and carry a small part of its message into my day-to-day world.

Please let us know – what’s your favorite TED Talk? Post comments below.

Full disclosure: TEDxDU is a client of GroundFloor Media.