Brad Feld

Month: August 2020

My partner Chris Moody decided to be a vlogger and has started a new video series. I suggested he hang out on TikTok but he prefers trying to get famous on Youtube.

So far he has 57 Views but 102 Subscribers. I find that fascinating.

Enjoy!


I got a note from someone who recently saw my Techstars mental health video. He said that could relate to how I describe depression as the “absence of joy.” He went on to write me a long, thoughtful, and brave note about his experience with depression.

One thing stood out to me was a statement near the end:

“I can’t convince myself to “speak to someone” because it feels wrong if I am paying them. It doesn’t feel whole.

I responded with a long note that follows:


When I was in my mid-20s, I had my first major depressive episode (it lasted over two years – very deep clinical depression.) I was functional at work, but that was it. Zero anything else …

I resisted therapy for about a year. I was ashamed of many things, including how I felt. I didn’t think someone would be able to help me. Early on, my dad, who is a retired endocrinologist, said to me, “Just shake it off” which was profoundly unhelpful, but just reinforced my shame.

Finally, my PhD advisor said something like, “Brad, there is no downside to trying therapy. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if it does, it’ll make a big difference. It did for me. Give it a one year commitment. Here’s the name and phone number of my long-term therapist.”

It still took me a while to call. I did, and committed to a year.

It changed my life. I ended therapy in my late 20s, but started again (with a new therapist) at 47 when I had another major depressive episode.

The way I think about it is that I “go to planet Brad for 50 minutes a week.” (I now go every other week). My therapist gets to hang out with me on planet Brad. Sometimes he guides me into a new part of the planet that I haven’t yet explored. Sometimes we get out shovels and dig holes in the ground to look for buried treasure. Sometimes we sit on a rock together and just stare into the distance. And lots of other things that you would do with a guide on a planet as you explore around.

About a year ago, I had a massive depression for a short time (less than a week) that in hindsight was induced by ambien. I rarely take ambien, but was on a multi-week international trip, had a bad cold, and was having trouble sleeping. About 10 days into the trip I feel off an emotion cliff into one of the deepest holes I’d ever experienced. Fortunately, I was safe and with my wife Amy, and after about three days realized it might be the ambien after randomly surfing around on the web looking at depression+travel and other stuff like that. 48 hours I was fine. 

Three days of complete absence of joy was awful. But I knew I could call my therapist in an emergency if I needed to. I was a few days away from going home and had a session right after I got home, so just knowing he was there helped a lot.

Therapy isn’t “the only answer”, but – like my PhD suggested many years ago, there’s no downside to trying.


Amy and I, through our Anchor Point Foundation, underwrote a new video series on PBS 12 called From Moment to Movement.

From the trailer:

Tensions around race relations have been simmering for centuries in the U.S. Now they’re now at a boiling point. Meanwhile, President Trump’s administration is treating Black Lives Matters protestors like domestic terrorists. Millions of Americans, especially Black Americans, continue to rally to make their voices heard. From Moment to Movement” aims to give a platform to African American voices and dismantle systemic racism. 

The host, Tamara Banks, reached out to me shortly after George Floyd was murdered. She showed me a few of the pilot episodes, including an interview with Brandon Carter and an interview with Amy E. Brown. After watching them, I thought they were great and important and agreed to underwrite the whole series.

Two a week will be dropping on the PBS 12 website for the next few weeks. They are currently in production to be broadcast on TV as well.

Tamara – thank you for doing this and putting it out there.


Saturday is reading, running, resting, and playing with Amy day. Digital sabbath.

I was tired from the week and slept for ten hours. I also took a 90-minute nap in the afternoon. I had a good, albeit short (4 loops) run in the morning. I ran ten loops this morning, so getting back in the groove after a week of not feeling great.

My book was John Lewis’ Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change. Amy suggested that I read Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, which is in our infinite pile of books (and near the top). Instead, I decided I wanted to read this one first because several other people had suggested it to me after John Lewis died.

It was powerful. While there are elements of memoir in it, Lewis paints a clear vision of the future based on his lifetime of work on civil rights. He regularly tied his vision back to his childhood, his early work alongside Dr. King, and his leadership of organizations like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

While I knew of the principles of nonviolence in the Civil Rights movement, I didn’t understand them. I knew the history of the Freedom Riders. Still, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the physical abuse and violence they encountered while operating with the principles of nonviolent protest.

When I read and reflect on this history, I’m embarrassed, horrified, and furious with elements of White America.

Reading the book by John Lewis inspired me on multiple levels. I know that, in addition to reading Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, I’m going to add some Gandhi to my reading list. If anyone has a suggestion for a great Gandhi book, toss it in the comments.

John Lewis was an American hero. And, his posthumous OpEd in the NY Times, Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, which starts:

Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

ends with something I wish everyone in the United States would read, ponder, and take action on.

Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.