What an amazing festive season it has been! And what a great example not only of the miracle of Christmas, but also the miracle of technology!
Firstly, I am delighted, privileged and humbled to be able to say that my Christmas wish was well and truly granted. All I Wanted For Christmas Was A Million-Plus Tweet for my Black Dog Blog – and one but two individuals kindly obliged.
I only hope that these two massive tweets in conjunction with my story (and many generous sub-million tweets, thank you!) helped to achieve my underlying aim. That aim was simply to reach out and lift the loneliness of depression and anxiety for as many people as possible on Christmas Day.
As for me, I was woken around 3am on Christmas morning by a rather excited five year-old Jack Pacitti. So excited, in fact that he told me his tummy was laughing at him. I spent nearly an hour getting him back to sleep – yet another Christmas miracle, given the circumstances.
When Jack was blissfully pushing up the zeds again, I quickly checked my email on my iPhone. My jaw nearly broke my iPhone screen when I saw that Former US Presidential Campaign Manager, Joe Trippi, had just retweeted my blog to his 1,038,891 followers! I had done it! My own tummy then started laughing, and I didn’t get much more sleep myself that morning.
At a more godly hour on Christmas morning, I decided to tweet to the thirty-plus celebrities who had supported my cause, to let them know I had achieved my goal. This list included Ms Thérèse Rein, wife of Kevin Rudd MP. Mr Rudd is of course best known as the former Prime Minister of Australia, now Foreign Minister — and Followed-On-Twitter-By-One-Million-Plus!
Ms Rein replied almost straight away, wishing me a beautiful Christmas. Realising that she was online at that very moment, I leapt at the opportunity, the story of which is best outlined in the pictures below. When I later tweeted back to thank Mr and Mrs @KRuddMP, I told them that the word ‘delighted’ didn’t do justice to how their actions had made me feel this Christmas.
I’d also like to tell you about another related miracle of technology. In early 2011, I started an off-campus part-time postgraduate course in Psychology at Melbourne’s Monash University. I was keen to formally learn more about what I had been going through over the years. I was a bit embarrassed telling friends about it at first, but Psychology was one subject I regretted never having studied before.
Through that miracle of technology, I was able to watch and hear the pre-recorded lectures online, whenever I wanted. Most miraculous of all, though, I could mute or pause the lecturers in their tracks. I could even rewind them at will, and make them repeat anything I hadn’t quite understood. A far cry from my original Uni days in the ‘80s when lectures would involve frantic, anxious, often early morning note-taking.
One Friday evening, in fact, I was halfway through a two-hour lecture about Sigmund Freud et al, when Tess called out from the living room to ask if I wanted to join her in an episode of Law & Order. My instinctive reaction was “damn, would love to, but no can do”. But then I remembered the power at my fingertips. I hit the pause button and bade my lecturer goodnight, before telling her I would tune in again tomorrow – and I made a bee-line for the couch.
Despite the constant temptation of American Cop Shows, I went on to pass the first semester, loving what I was learning, but not really loving that it was taking up far more time than I’d anticipated.
One Sunday morning halfway through second semester, I was lying awake at 3am, thinking about the assignment that was due the next day, the major assignment that I hadn’t even started that was due two weeks later, and the exam looming on the horizon. All this on top of full-time work and being father of two.
There and then, it dawned on me that I had another choice. I could choose to continue, or I could choose to withdraw from the course. And so I opted for the latter.
An immense weight – one that I didn’t even realise was there – was immediately lifted from my shoulders, and I had so much more time on my hands. I also didn’t feel like a failure because I had given it my best shot, and learned something unexpected in the process. And one day, I hope to have another crack.
You can probably once again see where I am heading with this. How often, I asked myself, does the fear of failure hold us back from just having a crack at our ambitions? How easy is it to spend our whole life dreaming of achieving our ambitions, often momentarily basking in the high of fantasizing about them? Yet how many of us never actually realise them – because we are held back by self-doubt, fear of embarrassment over what others may think, fear of failure? And why is having a crack at something and then having to stop is so often viewed by oneself as failure, rather than ambitious?
This very mindset, I believe, greatly contributes to depression in people, when hopes, dreams and passions are out of synch with even the smallest day-to-day actions.
With all this in mind, I can’t help but think it was no coincidence that both of my Million-Plus Tweets were from people heavily involved in politics, as well as a couple of tweets by Australian Shadow Finance Minister, and author of Black Dog Daze, Andrew Robb MP.
My Social Media Guru Iggy Pintado and I have therefore raised the bar and come up with one final festive season awareness-raising goal. I must add that if my blog posts are starting to sound all too Twitteresque, think of this as Part 7B rather than Part 8; normal service will shortly be resumed.
So back to our new goal, if we can get a Prime Minister and a Presidential Campaign Manager with over a million Twitter followers each to tweet for us, then why not a President with over eleven million? So put simply, our next goal is best summed up as follows:
On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas, Barack Obama Gave To Me An Eleven-Million-Plus Tweet!
Temptation of course is to quit while ahead with two Million-Plus Tweets. But bearing in mind what I have just described about the fear of failure, this is a win:win scenario. Either way we will have a story to tell about the outcome. Either way, I am feeling the fear and doing it anyway!
And so once again I put it to you, if I may be so bold. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows Barack Obama, why not let them know about our ambition here?
In doing so, perhaps we really can all start to lift the stigmas associated with the black dog –one tweet at a time.
I just want to reiterate as I said in my last post that I am raising the bar in this way, and trying to share my story with as many people as possible, only so that I can do my bit to lift those crippling stigmas. I have been through – and escaped from – an enduring living hell inside my own head; I know from my own experience that it is these stigmas, the silence and isolation that create the perfect breeding grounds for the black dog. They block the road to recovery, to a happy and harmonious life.
I would like to close in a similar fashion to my last post by asking, if I may once again be so bold: what dreams are you holding yourself back from because of self-doubt, or embarrassment about what others may think? What could you feel the fear of but do anyway in 2012? What New Year’s Resolution could you make that would leave you feeling fulfilled even just from trying?
And to Barack Obama: Mr President, Sir, if I should be so fortunate as to have these words reach you this festive season, can I ask you to please consider the following, in the interest of lifting another Great Depression:
On The Eleventh Day Of Christmas, Barack Obama Will You Please Give To Me An Eleven-Million-Plus Tweet?
A Very Happy New Year to you all, thank you all for your support so far with my Black Dog Blog whether in the form of one or a hundred tweets or sharing with one or a hundred thousand people, and hopefully, possibly, maybe…
…Thank You, Mr President!