Tony Dreyfuss, co-founder of Metropolis Coffee, and his wife were celebrating Mother’s Day with their infant child in 2006 when he got a call about a broken coffee brewer.
“I said, ‘Gotta go.’ And I left on my wife’s first Mother’s Day. I wasn’t taking stock,” Dreyfuss recalls. It was a low point for them, but not low enough to make him pull back from the long hours building his business. Six years and two more children later, his wife, Karen, pulled him aside and said something had to change.
Dreyfuss saw a doctor and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1, a mental illness that led to an intense attention to work. The disease often is referred to as manic depression or sometimes “the CEO’s disease.”
“I simply ran manic for years. I got a lot done, but it deeply affected my relationships. I wasn’t present with anyone,” he says. Though he didn’t exhibit other common symptoms of the disease—“I didn’t spend money, sleep around or drive like a maniac”—“I just worked, worked, worked.”
The Chicago businessman, 41, grew up in Madison, Wis. He was a skateboarder who took up juggling and photography. Since he was a child, “he’s had a limitless imagination,” says Tony’s father and business partner, Jeff Dreyfuss.
Tony Dreyfuss says he was prone to making life-changing decisions on a whim. His career began while he was driving a cab as a student at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a philosophy degree. He pulled over one night for coffee and was so struck by that particular cup’s flavor, he decided right then to make the drink a career.
To him, that meant running a coffee shop. “At that point I wasn’t thinking about roasting it,” he says.
He and his wife moved to Portland, Ore., which along with Seattle is the epicenter of specialty coffee. He took a job at a Peet’s Coffee & Tea, working his way up from bean-scooper to management before taking a pay cut to become a taster and “fill a knowledge gap.”
His parents, both linguists, had moved to Seattle, and his father also had become a coffee connoisseur. While attending a trade show in Seattle, father and son purchased a coffee-roasting machine with the idea of going into business.
“We were jacked up on caffeine after drinking a dozen espressos. It was like drunk people getting tattoos,” says the younger Dreyfuss, who already was planning to move to Chicago, where his wife had grown up.
Dreyfuss found retail space in the city’s Edgewater neighborhood for a coffeehouse and roasting facility. That was in 2002.
By 2003, the Dreyfusses were in business and counted Hopleaf Bar and M.Henryrestaurant among early clients.
Today, Metropolis has 400 wholesale customers in Chicago and 200 beyond and expects revenue of more than $7 million this year. The company still operates its only cafe on Granville Avenue, and it employs people with disabilities through nonprofit Aspire.
After his diagnosis in 2012, Dreyfuss told his staff he was taking a three-month leave. The response, he says, was “Oh, thank God!”
Bipolar disorder, he continues, “makes you completely incapable of understanding how your actions affect other people. You have great ideas and you just dump them on other people and move to the next thing.”
With counseling, medication, dietary changes and at least eight hours of sleep a night, Dreyfuss says he’s as healthy as he’s ever been. He carves out open time on his calendar, which allows him more time to think creatively. The company has thrived as a result, he says.
Karen Dreyfuss calls the change at home “miraculous,” adding that the diagnosis explained a lot.
“When you start out in marriage, you support all the meetings and all those fires that have to be put out,” she says. “But year after year there will always be more fires and more meetings and if you don’t draw that line, it will consume you.”
On the patio of Metropolis’ new headquarters in the Avondale neighborhood, Dreyfuss’ phone goes off midconversation. He pulls it out and turns it off.
“Three years ago I would have answered it,” he says. “I really try to be present with who I’m with. That’s what I’ve learned the most.”
full story at: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150925/ISSUE09/150929894?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1
No one ever hears a friend say “I have a doctor’s appointment” and immediately thinks that they must be rich or weak or crazy. It’s generally the right and less stubborn thing to see a professional when our body is injured or feels “atypical.”
But if someone wants to see a therapist for their mental health, people aren’t as uncritical.
I talk very openly about the fact that I see a therapist. While my friends and family are mostly supportive, they, along with the general population, still ask questions or make comments that remind me that going to therapy is not as normalized or as acceptableas I had hoped.
I know my loved ones mean well, and I consider myself lucky; but there’s still that millisecond between saying the variation of words “I see a therapist” and the polite (albeit usually misinformed) reply where the stigma lives. All the immediate thoughts and questions translate to a slight change in demeanor and discomfort reflected in their eyes. more
The manila folder is full of faded faxes. The top sheet contains a brief description of my first medically confirmed manic episode, more than 20 years ago, when I was admitted as a teenager to U.C.L.A.’s Neuropsychiatric Institute: “Increased psychomotor rate, decreased need for sleep (about two to three hours a night), racing thoughts and paranoid ideation regarding her parents following her and watching her, as well as taping the phone calls that she was making.”
I believed I had special powers, the report noted; I knew ‘‘when the end of the world was coming due to toxic substances’’ and felt that I was the only one who could stop it. There was also an account of my elaborate academic sponsorship plan so I could afford to attend Yale — some corporation would pay for a year of education in exchange for labor or repayment down the line. (Another grand delusion. I was a B-plus student, at best.) more
There is no such thing as living life in a state of perfect balance. We are either going toward balance or away from it, much as a child does balancing her weight standing on a teeter-totter. When our lives tip away from balance we are less able to deal with stress and we become dissatisfied. When we are moving toward balance, we are better able to tolerate and deal with the ups and downs of life. The trick is to stay closer to balance than to tip wildly from one extreme to the other. Here is a list of the top ten things you can do to help you move toward a more balanced life.
Sleep is the pillar of mental health. When we don’t get enough, or if we get too much, we don’t function very well. Most experts say seven to eight hours is a healthy amount. Just as important as the quantity is the quality. If you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day, you had a good sleep. If you wake up feeling tired you probably didn’t sleep well. Stress and poor sleep become a vicious cycle. As you reduce stress in your life you will probably start sleeping better. As you start sleeping better, the better able you’ll deal with stress.
Yeah, I know, all tips for a better life include exercise because it’s essential. You don’t have to work out in the gym four days a week or run a marathon. Simple things like going for a regular walk or using the stairs instead of the elevator incorporates exercise into your life. Most experts say that the best “medicine” for depression is a long walk. There are a lot of reasons why exercise is good for your mind and body but let’s not talk about it and just do it.
We are what we eat. We eat too much of the four food groups: sugar, fat, salt, and starch. They affect our bodies in drastic ways: rapidly inflating our blood sugar, our blood pressure; making us feel bloated; and clogging up our arteries. It takes a bit of time to plan meals and shop accordingly, and it’s well worth doing. In other words, putting a bit of thought into what we bite into makes a lot of difference. Meal planning allows you to look at your whole week so you can get some variety as well as nutritious, wholesome food. Having good food in your refrigerator will help you avoid running out for that slice of pizza.
I was raised with the value of “everything in moderation” and it’s served me well. At its root, it’s about knowing when you’ve had enough. We don’t have to drink until we pass out or eat until we feel nauseous to know that excess isn’t a good idea, yet millions do it every day. We live in an excessive society where there is a lot of everything so the temptation to keep piling it on (what ever it is), is always there. At the root, it’s all about knowing when you feel like you’ve had enough. We are driven by lifestyle demands, peer pressure, the demand for more (because more is better isn’t it?). At some point we have to decide for ourselves. A friend of mine recently purchased a kitchen safe, which is a clear plastic cube with a time lock. She puts a bag of cookies in it and when the timer allows her to open it, she takes out a few cookies, then locks it for another 24 hours. If you don’t have the will power to resist eating the whole bag at once, either don’t buy them or get a safe.
We live in a state of constant stimulation. It’s death by a thousand cuts. We over stimulate ourselves when we check our phone, watch TV, listen to the news, spend time in front of any screen, hear sirens on the street, or even listen to the radio. When stimulation creeps in it has an insidious effect on us, because we don’t pay attention to it. We may notice at some point in the day that we feel tense, but have no idea why. For the most part we are passive receivers of stimulation. Even the humming and clanking of our homes adds a tiny bit of stress to our overworked nervous system. Why not go on a stimulation diet? If you must listen to the news, do it only once a day. Turn your phone off when you get home and avoid other forms of stimulation. Read a book. For those who are extra sensitive, earplugs might be an option.
Control your Schedule
Talk to anyone who specializes in being “busy”, as in too busy to meet for coffee, or too busy to chat on the phone, and you will find someone who is a slave to their own busyness. Of course they have more control over their schedule than they let on and for reasons known only to them, they like it that way. How many times you have said, “I have to do …”, or “I should …”, without really considering why? We keep ourselves in a state of constant busyness at times, which unbalances us, makes us crazy and stresses us out unnecessarily. Take a break from the habit of busyness and take a 30,000 foot view. Ask yourself, do I really need to do this? What will happen if I don’t do it right now? Can someone else do it? You might surprise yourself how many things you can scratch off your to do list. Find blocks of time where you control your schedule. Do things that give you pleasure or allows you to unwind. Only you control your schedule.
Take a moment to check in with yourself several times a day. Notice what you are feeling. Are you feeling: overwhelmed; tired; excited; nervous; bored; hungry; or stressed? Most people are too busy, stressed, or unaware to check in with themselves. It’s only when you notice your state that you can do something about it. Typically once you’ve gone into overload it’s too late. For instance, if you are having a stressful day, you might take a break from your work to stretch and walk around a bit. If your plans include watching the latest action movie with friends tonight, you might want to give it a pass and have a quiet night at home. Noticing how you’re doing is half the battle and that starts with awareness and self control.
Too often we leave things unsaid, stay angry at people, or stew in the juices of frustration and resentment. It’s the sort of stuff that keeps us awake at night. To truly be able to sleep at night and to live without the past chasing you, consider cutting past hurts out of your life. If you have something to say to someone who hurt you, say it either in an email, in phone or in person. Life can be difficult and stressful enough without lugging this stuff around with us. Forgiveness can be tough for those of us who don’t come by it easily. The only way to really be at peace with yourself is to leave the past behind so you can face each day with a relatively fresh page.
Review Your Habits
We are a combination of good habits and bad ones. To know what they are, take an inventory. If you are falling out of balance, chances are good that some of your habits are dragging you into that territory. Reinforcing good habits is a good way to remain in balance. Conversely, erasing a bad habit will help you keep in balance. If you have habits you would like to change, tackle them one at a time. For instance, if you tend to be messy, make a point of cleaning up after yourself for a couple of weeks. Get into the habit of looking around and taking away an empty cup or washing it right away. After a few weeks you will transform a bad habit into a better one. Once you feel you have that one under control, tackle another one. Replacing old habits with new ones will make it easier to maintain balance in your life.
It’s easy to focus on negative things in our lives, because our brains are wired to prevent a recurrence of pain. That means we have to consciously reflect on the positive things in our lives instead of taking them for granted. Some of us are so wired for negativity that we have a difficult time thinking of anything to be grateful for. By focusing on positive things in our lives, we automatically spend less time being negative. Thus we are more balanced on the positive/negative scale. If we truly appreciate the good things in our lives, and yes, there are millions of them, we balance our thinking. Spending even a few minutes a day reflecting on gratitude actually changes the way we think. With a more positive outlook, we will be less prone to depression, more upbeat, and probably more fun to be around.
This is a wonderful story about a man, madly in love with his wife, who has gone mad. He talks about madness, psychiatry, trying to help without getting in the way, and about the dilemmas he has faced. It’s really worth the read if you have about twenty minutes to spare.
This is a beautiful piece of writing about a father’s and son’s struggle with depression. I think it’s an optimistic piece, showing that you can live with depression, or at least make adjustments for it…
In his final piece for Ars, Dave Girard talks about life with depression.
Last November, my father took his own life. I’m frequently aware of the fact that the depression which helped drive him to that dark fate lives on in my genes. That’s a doozy of a legacy to inherit, but it’s one that has not been wholly negative for me.
Getting to the point where I could write this article involved a series of debates. I debated talking about my father’s suicide; I debated “outing” myself as a depression sufferer; I debated not talking about it and what that meant. I decided in the end that I would be the worst kind of hypocrite if I believed that dialog about depression was essential but was unwilling to start that dialog myself. I hope that my story can help others understand why the traits that cause depression have been both a plague and a gift to so many.
Nothing’s easy when talking about depression. Navigating this sensitive topic is fraught with traps and taboos that can make Israel the good option at dinner discussion. But this dialog is important, and hopefully we can lift the grim veil that hangs over this subject before disaster strikes someone we know and love. Even as it goes underreported, suicide now kills more people than car accidents in the US.
To read the rest of the article in Ars Technica, click here…
British Psychological Society to launch attack on rival profession, casting doubt on biomedical model of mental illness
There is no scientific evidence that psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are valid or useful, according to the leading body representing Britain’s clinical psychologists. The Guardian reported that the British Psychological Society it’s time for a paradigm shift in how mental health is understood and is particularly critical of how psychiatrists treat mental illness.
In a groundbreaking move that has already prompted a fierce backlash from psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society’s division of clinical psychology (DCP) will on Monday issue a statement declaring that, given the lack of evidence, it is time for a “paradigm shift” in how the issues of mental health are understood. The statement effectively casts doubt on psychiatry’s predominantly biomedical model of mental distress – the idea that people are suffering from illnesses that are treatable by doctors using drugs. The DCP said its decision to speak out “reflects fundamental concerns about the development, personal impact and core assumptions of the (diagnosis) systems”, used by psychiatry.
This is a must read for anyone who takes a psychoactive drug. It’s brilliantly written and well researched. I think he makes some excellent points on the nature of how Mental Illness is diagnosed and treated in western countries. Could the meds actually be causing mental illness? Read it and find out what he says…
Anatomy of an Epidemic investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of adults and children disabled by mental illness skyrocketed over the past fifty years? There are now more than four million people in the United States who receive a government disability check because of a mental illness, and the number continues to soar. Every day, 850 adults and 250 children with a mental illness are added to the government disability rolls. What is going on?
Read the full post from Robert Whitaker’s website, where you can also download the first chapter:
Robin Flanigan wrote a very good piece in BP Canada in which she discusses how people suffering from bipolar disorder can adapt and have the power to decide where to set your goalposts for a fulfilling future. She quotes me based on an interview we did last year. Here is an except from the article:
It took a long time for Gretchen B. to come to terms with having a chronic mental illness. But lately, the 41-year-old from Illinois has been looking beyond her bipolar. With the skills and support to manage her symptoms, she’s ready to make the most of her life and her abilities.
“There’s an end point to ‘I survived the day,’” she says, referring to her post-diagnosis bunker mentality. “Now I’m more focused on what I can do to thrive.
“I’m not necessarily letting go of my struggle with bipolar disorder, but I am learning to thrive inside of it.… I feel more optimistic than I have in a long time.”
In other words, Gretchen has embraced her “new normal.” The phrase describes a foundational shift that creates a new baseline moving forward—which is what happens when bipolar symptoms turn our expectations upside down. Basic milestones like getting a degree, keeping a job, sustaining a relationship, and buying a home can begin to feel out of reach.
A bipolar diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your hopes and dreams. Mental health experts agree that with patience, commitment, and a plan for setting realistic goals, you can still map out a deeply satisfying existence.
And sometimes, the difficult process of re-evaluation can yield new and more meaningful aims.
I submit most of my writing and articles on Huffington Post where I’ve been writing for the past year. They are on a variety of topics. Have a look at a sample of the most recent posts:
Bradley Foster MA, is the founder of Giant Steps Coaching, a Toronto-based life coaching practice and BradleyFoster.ca, his psychotherapy practice. He partners with his international clients to help them re-invent themselves, to become more choice-full and authentic.
He earned his Master’s Degree at the University of Toronto and undergraduate degree at McGill University and Columbia University. He completed the three year training program in leadership and psychotherapy at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto. He runs a men’s group and lead workshops and train future coaches. He has also been writing semi-professionally for over thirty years.He worked 15 years as a consultant to major international corporations including Reuters and Thomson Corp. His coaching clients include executives of Fortune 500 companies, CEO’s and lawyers in leadership and communication skills that have helped them reach their peak performance both personally and professionally.He brings balance, perspective, creativity and judgement that help his clients reframe their situations. He is active in his community, serving on several boards and currently volunteers as an executive coach for Save the Children. He is the author of Deep Coaching: A Guide to Self Directed Living as well as a hundreds of articles related to therapy and coaching.
You can read more about his coaching services at: http://giantstepscoaching.com
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