From the Vault: “An Interview with My Depression” with Mike Veny
Mike Veny is a keynote speaker, a corporate drumming event facilitator for team building, podcast host, and the author of several books, including the best-selling book, Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero.
But when I met Mike Veny, we were just two guys in a café brainstorming about how to use film to connect with people who may be struggling with mental health challenges.
I learned quickly that Mike is super creative and quite brave. He was willing to use his own difficult mental health journey as a starting place. As his website notes, Mike was expelled from several schools, attempted suicide, and spent time in psychiatric hospitals for extended periods of time. His path to eventually becoming a motivational speaker became evident at an early age when he learned how to convince the staff to discharge him. In the fifth grade, Mike was put in a special education class. Aside from getting more individualized attention from the teacher, he learned that pencil erasers make great sounds when tapped on a desk. He had no idea that drumming would become his path to mental wellness.
When we were exploring video concepts, we were (at first) overwhelmed with options. Mike was very interested in using video to explore the idea of manhood—defining what it meant to be a man living with mental health challenges. We also spoke about the challenges maintaining good mental health while juggling the pressures of being an entrepreneur and public speaker. All good thoughts. Finally, while we were talking about his depression, Mike hit upon an idea that seemed really interesting.
“I’d really love to interview my depression,” Mike said. And we were off. Pulling off the challenge technically was my responsibility. Emotionally, the heavy lifting was Mike’s.
“When I thought about interviewing my depression, I mean, it’s hard,” he says. “I didn’t want to go there because it’s so painful. It really is. And it’s like—it’s not even about being vulnerable in front of people. Forget that for a moment. It’s just about being vulnerable with myself, because having to really go there and explore what’s going on inside is painful. And it’s been so painful that when I’ve let it out in the past, you know I ended up acting out in a bad way.
“When I was doing the interview, the depression was just coming from this angry place ad this very sad, dark place.
“And I think, you know, we live in a world that everyone likes to look good? And here I am, on film, doing a recovery story that’s supposed to be inspirational. I want to help people, that’s why I’m here, but at the same time you know I need people to understand that it can be a very dark place. But, it’s okay to explore it.”
I’m grateful that Mike was willing to be vulnerable with himself and explore his depression with us. Take a look and watch Mike Veny do the (near) impossible: interview his depression!