Addiction Treatment - Turn Setbacks Into Comebacks

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Drug Addiction and Recovery: Creating a New Normal and Turn Setbacks Into Comebacks

Anna Mason:

All right. Well, welcome everybody to the All Points North Lodge Speaker Series. I am so excited to have you here. My name is Anna Mason. I am the marketing manager at All Points North Lodge. I’m just really excited to get to spend this time with you. We’ll be here together for about the next hour and a half. So as we start, just wanted to give you a quick introduction of what the Speaker Series is, what you can expect tonight, and then we’ll get started. So the All Points North Lodge Speaker Series is an initiative now virtually to be able to come together and provide resources for the APN community. So if you’re here, you’re part of the APN community. So wherever you are tonight, whatever your job is, wherever you’re at in life, however, you found your way here, we are honored to count you as part of the APN community.

I want to give a special welcome to our onsite clients at the lodge in Edwards. And I also want to give a special welcome to our telehealth clients who are all over the country and tuning in today. We have some alumni, some family members, some therapists, and employees, so whoever you are, we are happy to have you here. So I have just one ground rule for tonight. So in order to protect the privacy of our clients, we are going to conduct our Q&A over a chat. So on your screen, if I am understanding correctly, you should be able to see a Q&A or a chat button. So if at any point during the evening you have questions for Darryl, our speaker, or for the APN team, feel free to type that in the Q&A box and we will take a few minutes and answer them at the end.

So we are All Points North Lodge. We’re a behavioral health campus and company specializing in addiction treatment, mental health, and trauma. And we are so excited to have you here tonight. The Speaker Series will be happening every month. It’s a free initiative. And if you have topics you want to hear about in the Speaker Series, or if you want to be a speaker yourself, drop that in the chat too and we would love to reach out to you. But stay tuned for a really exciting announcement about next month speaker. You’ll be getting that in your email pretty soon here. And we are going to start tonight with just a deep breath and a little bit of a breather and grounding exercise from Lana Seiler. So Lana Seiler is our associate clinical director, and she’s going to walk us through some meditation and some grounding. So go ahead and take a deep breath and I will switch us right over to Lana.

Lana Seiler:

Thank you, Anna. Hi everyone. I’m really excited for our speaker tonight, and I just wanted to take a few minutes to help us get a little grounded, a little centered, a little bit ready so that we can be present to listen and absorb. So first things first, let’s find ourselves in a comfortable seat, whatever that looks like for you, wherever you are, whether it’s a chair, on the floor. And then just taking a few moments to let yourself settle in, feel what it’s like to be sitting. If you can sit with your spine nice and straight, that would be good. But it’s not a requirement. And then just allowing your eyes to gently drift closed. And with your eyes closed, we’ll notice that our other senses tend to heighten just a little bit. So it’s an interesting experience to be aware and pay attention to how we observe our surroundings when we’re not using our vision.

And I’m going to start with what’s called a breath and sound grounding meditation which uses our own breath, the rhythm of our breath, as well as whatever sounds, are around us to ground us into the present moment. So first just noticing your breath. And for this, we don’t need to make any changes to our breathing, just notice the inhales and exhales. The breath gently coming in and gently coming out. Noticing the rate, depth, pace of your breath, being aware of what it feels like to have the cool air coming in, and noticing as you breathe out whether it’s through your nose or through your mouth, your breath is just a little warmer.

And because we can be aware of more than one thing at a time, also noticing any sounds. Could be just the sounds of the people around you in the room, could be the sound of your own breathing, but I’d like to invite you to utilize the sounds in the room and your breath to keep you grounded in the present moment and feel free to return to your breath and the sound anytime. And then we’re going to move into just a very brief loving-kindness, imagery, and meditation to help us begin to open up to some love and kindness towards ourselves and towards others. So as you have your eyes closed, taking a moment to be aware if there’s anyone around you in the room, and also if there’s anybody present in your consciousness. So in your memory, in your mind, people who are close to you in your life, I’d like for you to just notice those people both around you physically and within.

And as you do, we’re just going to breathe in some loving-kindness energy, taking it in nice and deep, and then allowing yourself to breathe out, releasing that loving-kindness energy into the room. And while we’re doing this with our breath, we’re just going to notice, right? The humanity of the people in our lives, how all of these people are perfectly imperfect, and that we’re able to love people in their imperfections and in all the things that make them amazing and unique.

And as we do that for the people around us, we also need to take a moment to do that for ourselves. So just taking a moment to notice and be present with and present for all of the perfect imperfections in ourselves, the humanity within ourselves, and allowing ourselves as much as possible at this moment to be in appreciation, and love, and kindness towards ourselves. And then gently taking another deep breath, inhaling nice and deep, exhaling, and allowing your eyes to open. Thank you all who participated in that. And I am so excited to announce our speaker tonight, Darryl Stinson, a two-time TEDx speaker, hip hop artists, pastor, best-selling author. Darryl has overcome a lot in his life. Overcome addiction, overcome mental health struggles, overcome some very challenging environments. He has even overcome multiple suicide attempts and has turned it all around.

Darryl has been featured on Fox, ABC, NCAA, don’t mind me as I checked my notes, and top podcasts. We are so lucky to have him. I’m so excited to hear him speak, and I can’t wait. And I hope that we get to hear him again sometime soon. Welcome.

Darryl Stinson:

Man, how are you guys doing? Can I get some love in the chat? Can I get some hi, I’m doing amazing? Thank you to all who are tuning into the Virtual Speaker Live Series. This is amazing. I get to be the first speaker which means all the pressure’s on me, on if you guys are going to come back next month or not. So the pressure is on and I’m excited to be with you today. Thank you for this opportunity to share. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Darryl. And I am originally from Jackson, Michigan. Today I’m going to share a little bit of my story of how I overcame suicide to become successful, and more importantly to reach a place of significance. Now, I don’t know about too many other people, but the significance to my family, my wife, and my three amazing daughters.

And so I want you to tell me what’s your intention for today. What do you hope and plan to get out of today so that we can all be on one accord? My goal is that each one of us will take just one thing that may change the trajectory of the rest of our life. You see, I believe that… I go to a lot of professional development. And when I go to seminars and conferences and listen to webinars and read books, a lot of things may sound repetitive, but there’s always that one thing that helps me move 1% better. And if you get 1% better every day, you are a whole year’s worth of 1%. Never thought about that. 1% better is all we need to shift our life.

So I was born in a town called Jackson, Michigan. No one knows where that’s at, but people do know Tony Dungy. And I say that I and Tony Dungy are the only famous people from Jackson, Michigan. And then everybody goes, “Yeah,” because it’s not true he’s famous, I’m not. And it’s about an hour and a half west of Detroit. I was a smart kid growing up. I don’t know if I’m too smart now. But when I was younger, my mom noticed that I was very bright. So she put me in accelerated learning classes. What that meant was that I was one of two Black students in an all-White class. And there wasn’t anything wrong with this because I was one of the smartest kids in the class. People cheat off my tests. They laughed at my jokes. They called me goon because I was like this big AKI goony guy. And I thought that since they liked me, that meant everyone must like me.

So I had this big hand, this ego, and I’m just a naive little kid. And then one day as I’m walking back to class from a bathroom break, I had this little wooden bathroom pass in my hand that you had to hold to make sure you weren’t trying to skip school or something or lost. I see this group of Black students circle together and they’re just laughing hysterically, having the time of their life. And I’m like, “Man, I’m going to go and see what’s up and get in on the jokes.” So I walk over to him, I say, “Yo, what’s so funny?” Nobody answered. I’m like, “Man, I know they heard me.” So I said, “Yo, what y’all over there laughing about?” And just as soon as I was finishing that sentence, someone tone towards me and said, “Yo, what’s funny, White boy?” And I said, “White boy?” And they all burst into laughter. And I didn’t know what they were talking about, but I knew it wasn’t a good thing.

And so I started to ask around my school like, “Man, why are people calling me a White boy?” And I came to learn that I was known in our school as the Black kid that talks and acts White. And y’all, that was the first time that I learned that who I was authentically wasn’t enough to be liked or loved by other people. Now here’s what I know about rejection, is that for me it was the fact that I was made fun of for my voice in the way that I talked. But all of us have encountered some form of rejection in our life. And rejection has a way of making us feel like we’re not good enough. For some people, it may be a promotion you never got. For others, it may be not getting invited to hang out with your friends after work.

Whatever it is, rejection has a way of making us feel like something’s wrong with us. And that’s what I felt. It created deep-seated insecurity. And thankfully, I was still devoted to my school. I was a goody-two-shoes. I had perfect attendance, all A’s. And so I kept this up. But I always was struggling and I started to question if something was wrong with me, if maybe I shouldn’t talk this way, or dress this way, or hang out with these people. Fast forward into the seventh grade, my cousin’s mother, my auntie, her name is Stephanie, got killed in broad daylight because she was in a relationship with a woman and broke that relationship, and that lady didn’t like that very much. So one day as my aunt, Stephanie was walking home from the gas station/grocery store, this lady whose name is Bridgette jumped from behind the bushes and shot and killed her. My cousin Chaz saw her take her last breath.

This will be a very pivotal moment in my life because Chaz’s father, my uncle, was in prison. And his father and my dad were very close. So Chaz came to live with us because he had nowhere else to go. And Chaz was everything I had wanted to be. Chaz already had acceptance from the Black community. He already was winning fights and had street credibility, and he knew how to dress, and he had good grades from all the girls and used to give us report cards and how good we look. And so I wanted to be just like Chaz. And Chaz, when he moved in with me, brought a whole different lifestyle around me. So I was from the hood, Chaz was from the projects, okay? And so the difference between the two is, I had drugs in my neighborhood, Chaz had drugs in his house. I had violence going on in my community, Chaz had it going on on his front doorstep.

And so Chaz brought his whole circle of friends around me, and at the age of whatever age you are in seventh grade, they were already skipping school, trying to have sex, selling drugs, getting in fights, doing all the stuff that you’re not supposed to do at that age. And when they would hang around me, they would make fun of me for being a goody-two-shoes, for studying. And because I so desperately wanted to fit in with them, because of that insecurity that was in me from those kids that made fun of me in the third grade, I changed everything about myself to fit in with others.

You see rejection has a way of causing you to lose your identity. And so I changed the way that I talked, the music I listened to, I changed the way that I laugh. I changed everything about myself to fit in with this community, and you know what? It worked, they embraced me. I got street credit. They called me a different type of goon. I was a big, manly goon instead of a goofy goon. And I am ashamed to admit it, but I actually defriended all of my White friends and pretended as if I didn’t know them. Well, fast forward I’ve discovered this thing called sports, started getting good in sports around the eighth grade, started getting national recognition. My speed and athleticism was finally catching up to my height, and so I started to get looked at.

And by the time the ninth, tenth grade came around, I was very popular for my athletic ability. And I noticed something right between the ninth and the 10th grade, that people, whether they were from the White crowd or from the Black crowd, did not care that I was… how I talked to the music I listened to. All they cared about was how many points did I score and what ranking I had in the nation.

And I noticed that sports were my vehicle to gain acceptance. So I clung to it. You see, when you have deep seeds of rejection in your life, you often cling to things to give you value that come from external but they don’t come from within. It was sports for me. And one season in my life it was drugs. For some of us, it’s violence. For some of us, it’s a certain personality that people affirm us for. We cling to that thing, but deep down inside I knew that they really didn’t like me. They only liked me because I played sports. But I was determined that sports were going to be the way that I got fame and popularity and the whole world would love me. And then I would get my family out of poverty.

And so eventually I went to Central Michigan University on a full-ride scholarship to play basketball and football. A lot of people don’t know that. And so I ended up only playing football because my coach saw that I was really good at my freshman year and he was going to use me instead of lecturing me. And so he was like, “Yeah, about that basketball thing, we’re not going to do that.” So you can tell I’m still a little salty about it. And so I was a very good athlete. My coaches told me that it wasn’t a matter of if I was going to go to the NFL, it was only a matter of when. Unfortunately, one day probably going towards the end of my freshman season, I was trying to impress the upper-class with how strong I was, and I was squatting and I came up and I just… something wasn’t right, and I ruptured a disc in my back. And I didn’t know the difference between being hurt and being injured.

And so instead of getting the right physical therapy that I need and taking care of myself, I just kept grinding and grinding until one day I looked over and my left leg was complete jello. My right leg was muscle. And I knew something was wrong. And so I went to the trainers, I got an MRI, and I had to have emergency back surgery or else my left leg was going to go paralyzed. This was devastating. I asked the doctor, “What’re my chances of coming back to play football again?” He said, “I can’t really tell you that, but I can tell you that I wouldn’t recommend it.”

And the fact that he didn’t say no was just enough for me to have hope. I asked my coaches, “Coaches, when can I get back out there?” The year before I had my injury, another player on our team had the same surgery, so my coaches were like, “Man, he tried to come back and it was terrible. He couldn’t last more than two weeks.” Because my identity was attached to my activity of playing sports, and so instead of making a wise decision to rehabilitate, get a free education, still be able to travel with the football team anytime that I wanted, I made a poor decision and I begged the coaches to let me come back and play again. I said, “Please just give me a shot.” And they told me no.

And eventually they said, “All right, we’ll give you a chance.” And they put me in inside drill. Listen, guys, I wasn’t supposed to be in full contact for 12 months after my surgery. Within six months, I earned a starting position. That’s how determined I was. And I did so at a cost of my health, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. I started manipulating the healthcare system, getting multiple epidural shots in my back. I was getting physical therapy seven days a week, two times a day. I was getting chiropractic work every other day. I was getting nerve killings in my back. I was going and getting acupuncture from states away. And I was manipulating the healthcare system so that I can get different opioids to numb my pain to continue to play the game of football. And I was fooling everybody, and my life was spiraling out of control.

And because sports or my athletic department couldn’t pay for my medical expenses because that would make them liable for my injury or death, then my personal insurance had to pay for it. And I had that PPO insurance that only takes select doctors. And I don’t know if you guys know where CMU is at, but it’s in a town called Mount Pleasant and it is in the middle of nowhere. So no doctors within a 30-mile radius accepted my insurance. And so I paid for this out of pocket, and I’m from the streets, so when we need money, we sell drugs. And I got involved in the international drug operation and started selling drugs myself as a distribution center all throughout the State of Michigan because that was the way that I paid for my medical expenses.

In my mind y’all, all I had to do was make it to the NFL and it was all going to be over. You see, sometimes we make decisions that bring us short-term satisfaction and lead us into long-term pain. I never met an addict who started at the age of five and said, “You know what? One day I’m going to grow up and I’m going to be an addict.” I never met someone who ended up in prison, and when they were seven years old said, “Man, I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be an inmate.” And that’s what was happening to me. My life was out of control. I was one snitch away, a one-point decision away from being in prison. I was one bad altercation away from being dead. I was one mistake away from being kicked off the football team.

And my pain was so deep that I just kept using more and more drugs to deal with that pain. And so, one day my coaches saw that I was having these nosebleeds in practice because I was taking so many opioids that it was thinning my blood to the point where every time I made contact on the field, my nose would bleed. And the coaches saw me and they said, “Darryl, we don’t know what you’re doing, but we cannot allow this to happen.” And so they kicked me off of the team. And I was mad. I knocked over a bunch of stuff. I was angry because I felt like they quit on me. And I was like there was nothing I could do. And I was obviously in physical pain, and I knew. I said, “Man, without this sports thing, remember, nobody really likes me. They’re still going to think I’m this Black kid that talks and acts White.”

You see, when I lost the very thing that my identity was tied up in, who was I? And y’all listen, I didn’t know how to communicate my emotions. I was taught that you bottle everything up. You don’t show weakness. I wouldn’t tell anybody I was depressed. I didn’t want them to think less of me. So I bounded it all up in and I started to make micro attempts, which were really… I don’t think they’re micro but attempts at suicide. I would mix my alcohol with pills hoping that I wouldn’t wake up the next day. I would drink a whole fifth of alcohol and get in the car hoping that I had a car accident was ended off. And it was these attempts that I’m grateful to be here today because I remember I’ll never forget swallowing a whole bottle of oxycodone. And I was hoping that that will put me out. I can’t explain it guys, but I remember waking up the next day, and not only was I still alive, but I wasn’t even high, and I was frustrated.

So one day I was really going through and I was like, “I’m finally going to do this.” I tried to starve myself to death and I went from 275 pounds to 219 pounds in four weeks. And in the middle of this, the one person that I could confide in was my girlfriend, my high school sweetheart, who I was dating for four and a half years. And we were planning to get married. And I had picked out our kids’ names, and we had rolled our first and last names in cursive and we were in love, and I would reach out to her often.

And one day I picked up the phone as I was sitting in my blue Dodge Stratus, and I called her, and I said, “Sweetie, I’m really going through right now, I’m having thoughts of suicide. Will you come to see me?” And she kept calling me Darryl. “Why is she calling me Darryl? What is going on? She usually calls me, babe.” And so I knew something was off.

And so I hung up the phone, I started calling around, and come to find out she was already leaving me and had got engaged to another man. And I was like, “See, I knew it. I knew I wasn’t worth anything without sports. I knew nobody really liked me without sports.” And so I got angry, and I swallowed some more pills, and I drank this fifth of alcohol, and I’m crying. And I sit here as my tears drop on this notepad that I had in my blue Dodge Stratus. And I got foggy windows from the smoke. And I’m pinning my suicide letter saying goodbye to everyone who I love. And I said, “This is it. And I white-knuckled my steering wheel and I started heading 75 miles per hour down a 35 mile per hour road because I was going to drive off onto an intersecting highway.

And while I was doing that, I don’t know how to explain it, but my mother must have heard from God, or heard from something, or had that inner knowing that mothers had, because I saw my phone blink and it was my mother calling me, and I picked up the phone and she said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I just feel like I need to tell you to come to me, Darryl. Let me help you whatever is going on.” And she was in tears. And my mother convinced me to drive from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, all the way to Detroit to get help. And she admitted me into a psychiatric care unit. And I want to applaud everyone who’s currently in care, who has been through care, because I’m telling you, it changed my life. I got to do some inner healing, some reflecting. I found hope, I got faith, I had courage again. And I had this tenacity to go out there and figure out why me, why did my mother have that knowledge at the exact right time? And I started to build my life and put the pieces back together.

And as I was doing this, I was seeing a counselor, I was reading, I was studying everything I could find on purpose, and in religion, and meaning, and fulfillment. And I’m learning all of this stuff and I’m healing from childhood trauma and life is starting to gain some progress. But I was frustrated because every single day I had to do more and more healing. And I remember saying to myself, “Man, I wish that I could just get back to normal. I wish I could get back to feeling on top of the world again.” I was so sick of waking up with another thing to deal with.

I remember my counselor and some of you if you have a counselor, you know what this is like, you go there and you talk about your life problems, and you find out that the reason Darryl had a fear of success was that my father was an athlete and he always downplayed my accomplishments. And so secretly, I never thought I was good enough. And so I never wanted to try, because I didn’t want to disappoint dad. And so, okay, I got to the root of that, and now, it’s to the next thing, and then the next thing. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, can I get off of the surgery board of emotions? And can I get back to normal?”

And then I had this thought, “Wasn’t it the old normal that led me to exactly where I am today?” Maybe what I wanted is not what I needed. And see, this is where I learned a very valuable lesson, is that sometimes guys, what we want is not what we need. What I wanted was to get back to normal, what I needed was a new way of living, a new normal that I had never experienced before, based upon beliefs and habits and rituals that were foreign to me, but were necessary for me. And maybe you’re tuning in today and you’re like, “Man, I’m trying to heal from marriage, divorce. I’m trying to overcome childhood trauma. I’m trying to get over an addiction. And I’m so sick of going and doing all this inner emotional work. And I just want to get back to normal.” And I submit to you today that maybe what you want is not what you need. And maybe what you need is a new normal, a new way of thinking, a whole new way of living that helps you to experience a life that you’ve never experienced before.

And so I made up my mind that, “Okay, I’m not going to desire the old and I’m going to endure the pain of change because the pain of change is temporary, but the pain of remaining the same last forever.” So I made that commitment and little do you know, I got a little bit better, got a little bit more healing, got a little bit better, got a little bit more healing. Next thing, I’m a two-time TEDx speaker. I’m talking to some of the most influential people in the world. I’m being sought after for counsel from people that I would have died to be in the room with. And I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” And on top of that guy, I did it all. And I have a beautiful family, a beautiful wife with three gorgeous daughters who are amazing and talented and gifted. I got a great work-life balance. And I’m not saying my life is perfect, but it sure isn’t what it used to be. And I was like, “Man, how did I get here?”

And as I was reflecting on that, I noticed that there were three mindsets that drove my behavior while I was rebuilding my life. And that’s what I’m going to share with you very quickly as I’m going to share with you the three mindset shifts that help you turn setbacks and to come back. It’s what helped me go from suicide to success. So let’s talk about three mindset shifts that turn setbacks into comebacks, okay? The first one I want you to write down is that external success without internal happiness is toxic, okay?

So I used to think that external success was everything. There was a time where I was an elite athlete, which is the top 2% of an industry, and I had money, I had popularity. And I would hear these stories of people who were rich and famous and fail and had a moral breakdown, but I was exempt from that, that wasn’t going to happen to me. And so I avoided it and I didn’t pay attention to moments where I felt friction between my success and whatever other people saw and how I felt when I went home. And I just figured out, man, I’m just maybe going through a tough time, but you know what? If I just get another record, if I just get more money, if I just have more popularity, once I get to the NFL, I mean, this happiness thing, this is going to be fine. I’m just going to ignore it.

And you know what I found out as I researched was that I wasn’t the only one who was living like this. There are 900 million people in 142 countries who are unfulfilled with what they do in life. Wow, that is a lot of people who are living their lives unfulfilled. My research shows that one in three American adults is sleep deprived due to disrupted work-life balance. Think about that, sleep-deprived just because you’re working so hard and you don’t have time to rest? It says that 51% of people say they have missed important life events because of inadequate work-life balance. And I’m like, “Why are we allowing this to happen in our society? What is it about the glitz, and the glamor, and the popularity, and the fame, and the steam that causes us to compromise on our values, on our priorities, and on self-care?”

And here’s what I learned that I want you to self-assess about, I learned that Darryl had a system for success, but Darryl did not have a system for self-care, okay? I’m going to say that again. Darryl had a system for success, but Darryl didn’t have a system for self-care. And so when it came time for me to self-care, I didn’t have any process for doing that. I knew how to be successful, I knew how to wake up early, stay up late, go harder than anybody else, reflect, make changes, get better. I knew how to do that stuff, but I didn’t know how to take inventory, how to channel, how to meditate as we did at the beginning of this session today. I had no system for self-care, and it was because I didn’t have a system for self-care that the success that I was experiencing eventually caught up with me. I was like… I remember one time when I was younger, my grandmother had this big, huge yard. It was like more than an acre and a half of land. And we had the push mower. And she used to make me mow the grass because she would save money because she wouldn’t have to pay a company to do it.

But she would never come to check behind me. And so, one day when I was lazy, I decided that I was going to cut the front, what she would see when she would leave out of the driveway for the work in the morning. But I wasn’t going to cut them back because I was tired. That’s what my life was like, the front, what everybody could see was nice and smooth. “Oh my gosh, he is on the front page of the newspaper again. Oh my gosh, we just saw you on ESPN, Darryl.” But the backyard, where nobody saw, was that I was going home and I was selling drugs to people who some of them aren’t here right now.

But I was wondering if I was going to have the motivation to get up the next day because I didn’t want to be here. Nobody saw that y’all. And so I would want you to ask yourself, “What is my system of self-care?” You see, what I’ve learned is that oftentimes when people fall, it doesn’t happen instantaneously. When people fall, it happens small decision by small decision. And we have to create what I call non-negotiables in our life. When you have non-negotiables in your life, you ensure that your priority of self-care is always intact. I was reading the story of Robin Williams. For those of you who may not know Robin, many do, but he was one of the world’s most loved actors and comedians. He was nominated for four academy awards. He won best supporting actor in the movie, Goodwill Hunting.

He received two Primetime Emmy Awards, six Golden Global Awards, and five Grammy Awards. But yet he committed suicide. And yet they said that he had some brain damage and that that was a big contributor to the reason why. But you know what I found as I read deeper into a story, that the reason why Robin Williams became great at comedy is that he started to use comedy as a way to get the attention of his mother who was a model. Can you imagine that? I remember watching an interview when he said it and then the interviewer was just like, “Oh wow, that’s amazing. This thing made you a great comic.” And I’m listening to it like, “Dude, did you not catch that? His mother was so busy that he felt that he had to entertain her to get her attention.”

You see, I want you to write this down, especially if you’re a person of extreme gifts, the world can see your gift, but it takes a special person to see you. And never let somebody’s affirmation of your gift cause you to think that you have great self-care. That was the mistake that I made. My life must be right because everybody else thinks it is. You know what else I learned about Robin is that his family was so busy that he was raised primarily by a maid. Also learned that he started using drugs and alcohol to cope with the stress of his career. And the crazy thing is he was public about it, but nobody said, “Robin, what’s your system for self-care?” They just kept saying, “When’s the next movie coming out?” So you have to take ownership over your journey. Don’t wait for somebody else to do it for you.

So I’ve got this action step for you. I want you to journal some self-care practices that you can incorporate into your routine. And I want you to be consistent with these, okay? I’ve got some additional strategies for you. I’ll send you the PowerPoint, but I call them my foundational five. These are five healthy relationships that you need to flourish in every situation, okay? When you have these foundational five relationships in your life, you have what I call a healthy relationship circle. There’s also my gridiron journal, which is in my book, I outline it. It’s all about recreation, rest, and refuel. I have this concept that I call modern-day alters. We can talk about that at a future date. And then of course journaling is a huge habit that I’m a huge advocate of.

l will tell you a quick, funny story if you promise not to tell anybody. My first love was, I can’t say her name. I’m bad guys, I say names too often and I got to stop doing that because now my platform is getting bigger, I’m going to get sued one day. So let’s just call this girl her name was Jessica, okay? I was in love with Jessica. She was amazing. I was going to marry this girl. She was my first person. I’m like, “This is love at first sight.” And we were dating for quite some time. I used to have braids back then, you would see my PowerPoint. I had a lot of friends, but one person was on the track team.

And I remember calling him one day after I got my hair braided and he was talking to me and he said, “Hey man, what’s been going on Darryl?” I’m like, “Nothing, man, just chilling out here. Just trying to grind, trying to rank or whatever we were talking about.” He was like, “Hey man, have you seen that new freshman girl, Jessica?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ve seen her.” So he didn’t know I dated her. And I was like, “Yeah, I’ve seen her.” And I was waiting to drop the news on him. He said, “Yeah, man I’ve been,” excuse my language, “smashing that.” And I’m like, “Oh.” Smashing is a word that means he was having sex with her. And I said, “Oh, when?” He’s like, “Oh man, this last week.” And I was like, “What day?” He was like, “Thursday.” And I was like, “Thursday, what time?” Do you know what I found out? That right after he got done having intercourse with her, I came over and hung out with her all day.

I’m still mad thinking about it. That’s how mad I was. And you know what I said on the phone, rather than be vulnerable and say, “Man, that’s messed up. That’s my girl.” You know what I said because I was a tough guy? I said, “Oh, man, that’s what’s up. I’ve been smashing her too.” I’m not advocating for guys, but I’m telling you, this was my mentality that I don’t show weakness. It was a culture that I was raised in the streets, it was a culture that I learned from athletics, and it’s a culture that our world lives with. But we can not live like that anymore. It takes more strength to be vulnerable than it does to pretend like everything is okay. Because while it may have made me a competitive athlete, it made me a terrible human being. I made poor decisions because I didn’t know how to be vulnerable. I imploded for depression because I didn’t know how to be vulnerable.

I didn’t know how to communicate my emotions. My first year in marriage, was so terrible because all I knew how to communicate was anger. I didn’t know how to say my feelings got hurt, I am afraid. I just was getting mad about everything. And I know that I’m not the only one because research shows that vulnerability can actually improve employee performance. Think about that. It facilitates a culture of forgiveness and trust within an organization that can increase their productivity and ultimately their bottom line. That is how powerful vulnerability is. I love what Brené Brown says. She says, “When you shut down vulnerability, you shut down opportunity.”

Let me ask you a question when’s the last time you got vulnerable with somebody? When is the last time you told somebody how you really feel, what you’re really struggling with? Because here’s what I learned, and here’s why this is important, okay? We all have this deep need and want to be loved, to be accepted. But if we aren’t vulnerable, which is showing people, all of us, we can never experience the fullness of love. Let me say it this way, you can’t be fully loved until you’re fully known. And I had to learn how to show up and let people see the good, the bad, the ugly, the things that I was embarrassed about so that I can experience the fullness of love.

And you know what else I noticed, you know what I wanted so bad when I was depressed? As I wanted somebody to love me, I wanted somebody to reach out to me, but I didn’t know how to be vulnerable. And that’s why I told people that vulnerability is the Batman signal for love. Vulnerability is like when Batman and you’re ready to call and you put the symbol up there and they’re like, “He knows exactly where to go.” That’s what love, that’s what vulnerability does, it calls love in.

Here’s what I noticed, when I was depressed I would throw hands out there that I wanted help and I would say, “Man, today was tough on social media.” And then I would get frustrated because people wouldn’t call me or send me an encouraging message. And I was like, “See, they really don’t care about me.” But what I didn’t know that I know now is that I wasn’t being vulnerable enough, because the way that somebody responds to I’m filling down today is totally different from the way that they respond when I say that I’m having suicidal thoughts. Do you see how the vulnerability is the catalyst for love? And so I want you, as an action step, to find somebody that you can trust and share a vulnerability with them, a secret with them. We’ve all got a story and we’re comfortable with telling parts of our story.

But there are certain parts of our story that nobody knows about. Share that because when you share that and they have a healthy response to it, you will feel the fullness of love. I’ll give you some additional strategies. There’s a great book that I recommend, it’s called crucial conversations. There’s great stuff in there. If you are not yet a student of emotional intelligence, I highly recommend that. There’s this concept called physical prompting we can talk about, habit stacking, counseling of course is a great way to practice vulnerability in a safe place, and then, of course, everything always has a journaling habit for us. I’m a huge advocate of that.

So again, mindset number one is that external success without internal happiness is toxic. Number two is that vulnerability is strength, not weakness. And number three is that playing it safely protects me from failure but it robs me of fulfillment. This was my mentality. I knew that if I played it safe I wouldn’t have to deal with the pain of failure.

Let me tell you a quick story. You guys, I don’t know if you can tell I’m tall. So I’m six foot five, and my playing weight at my top was 275. I bounced back from 255 to 275. But I was also an all-state track athlete so I was really fast. And when we did conditioning workouts for football, they divided us up into position groups. So for those of you who don’t understand football, just think large, medium, small, okay? So I was a large guy, the large guys had more time to run sprints or do any type of conditioning. Then the medium guys had a little less time than we had to complete their conditioning. Then the small guys, like the running backs in the cornerbacks had even less time. And I was fast enough to run probably with the running backs, but for sure with the linebackers, the medium group. But instead, I chose to be at the front of the pack for the large group.

Do you know what happened? Everybody applauded me. They were yelling at the other fat guys, they were like, “Look he’s stitching. Look at him giving us that. Look at him in the front.” Everybody else was dying, throwing up, and puking, and I’m just breezing through, right? Getting all this applause from other people. And you know what happened? People were celebrating me but I went home unfulfilled. You see, I thought that I could play it safe and be fulfilled. I didn’t know that playing it safe might have kept me from failure, but it was robbing me of fulfillment because I was fooling everybody else but I was not fooling myself.

What about you? When’s the last time you played all out? When the last time you gave it your hundred percent effort? When’s the last time you threw your whole self at anything? Do you know what I learned? I do a lot of work with recovering addicts and a lot of them go through a lot of emotional baggage and pain just to keep up with their addiction. They’ll lie, they’ll cheat, they’ll steal, they’ll manipulate, all of this stuff just to keep up this lifestyle that’s toxic for them. But when it comes time to get their life back together, when it comes time to be somebody that never had become yet, all of a sudden they hit one obstacle and they quit. They get tired of the program and the way that it’s being run, so they quit. They get tired of having to show up and go to meetings, so they quit. They get tired of going to counseling, so they quit. And I’m like, “Why don’t you put the same effort toward your sobriety that you put towards your addiction?”

When’s the last time you went all out for your goals? What about this, your relationship? Do you know what I learned? Is that I would push through wanting to quit in a workout, but when I and my wife were having an argument, I was out of here. That was no way to live. And it was robbing me of fulfillment. And here’s the most important thing guys, when you play all out, other people are impacted by your story. I’m going to close with this thought for you. But as an action step, I want you to think about one area, your big dream, a vision, an area of your life that you can play all out a hundred percent, totally committed. And then I want you to think who would benefit as a result of you playing all out. And if I can use a bit of reverse psychology, which I don’t like using fear as a motivator, so that’s not my heart, I just want you to feel this, who’s suffering right now because you’re not playing all out?

Here’s my story. Knew that I had this gift of speaking and I had to use it, but guys, I was insecure. I hated the sound of my voice, I hated the way that I came through on a microphone. And so I was so insecure to speak that when they would do icebreakers and say, “What’s your name and your favorite animal?” I would leave the room and fake like I had to go to the bathroom so that they wouldn’t call on me. My first speaking engagement, I recorded it on a voice recorder, put headphones in, strung it up through my hoodie, put a hoodie on, and left one ear in so that I could recite the words that were on the recorder. It got off track because I speak a lot faster than what I was reading, and I started to repeat sentences.

It was so embarrassing. My best friend was there, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. That’s how much I hated speaking, but I knew that I was supposed to play all out and do it. But because I was so focused on being impressive, I wasn’t available to be helpful. And so I tip-toed about it. And then one day, I was speaking and I had an experience that changed the rest of my life. I was speaking at a youth conference and there’s about 100, 200 youth there. And at the end of it, there were about 2025 students lined up waiting to say, “Great job, sir.”

And when I got to the very end of the line, the last person in line was this 14-year-old girl. She couldn’t have been taller than 5’3. And she comes up to me and she’s shaking. And she says, “Mr, I just want to say thank you. You see, my parents dropped me off at an orphanage last year and they never came back, and I couldn’t understand what was so wrong with me that they would no longer want me anymore. So I’ve been cutting myself to deal with the pain.” And as she tells me that, she pulls up her wristband and shows me where the cuts on her wrist are. And she says, “I felt like I deserved to be in pain because of whatever I did to my parents to make them not want me.”

And she said, “You’re the first person that I’m telling.” She says, “There was something about hearing your story that gave me the courage to come out about mine.” It crushed me. I wrapped this girl in my arms and I cried like a two-year-old baby. The good news is that one of the staff members happened to be from Operation Christmas Child, and she had been through 14 different orphanages in her life. And so she was able to spend two hours just counseling this young lady.

But guys, that was the moment that I was like, “No more playing around, no more tip-toeing with this public speaking thing, I’m going to go all out because there is other girls, other women, other men out there who could benefit from hearing this message. You might not have some crazy suicidal story, or you may have one that’s worse, but wherever you are, whoever you are, your story matters, and I want to challenge you to play all out because I love what Dr. Sue said. He said, “To the world, you may just be someone, but to someone, you may be the world. Go out there and be the world to someone.” Thank you.

Anna Mason:

Well, guys, I don’t know about you, but I am so grateful to have been here, and so encouraged by your talk Darryl. I think there is something so powerful in sharing our stories, right? And so even to be in this virtual room and be a part of that and… Gosh, there’s so much to think about for our own lives. So we’re going to take a few moments and do just a few Q&As. I will say this, if you still have a question, please drop it in the Q&A box right now. And you can go ahead and do that. We’ll get to a few questions. If you have other questions, or if you want a copy of this talk, or when the link goes up you want us to send it to you, I’m happy to do that.

So reach out to me directly. If you have a question for Darryl, I can pass it along to him too. So my email is [email protected]. And we want to hear what you have to say. Be connected with you. You can follow Darryl on social media, Stinson Speaks, right? Is that right?

Darryl Stinson:

That’s right. Yeah.

Anna Mason:

Okay. Follow Darryl Stinson Speak, follow us at APN Lodge, we’ll be doing some Q&A and reflection questions on our Instagram this week following this. So thanks Keith, for putting my email in that chat. So Darryl, a couple of questions have come in for you. And again, if you still have a question, feel free to drop it in. The first question, this person says, “My family keeps things pretty surface level to make it seem like we have it all together, but we don’t. How can I be vulnerable with them when we’ve never really done that before?”

Darryl Stinson:

That’s challenging questions. If your family is like that, you’re probably as common as the rest of us. We don’t like to talk about that stuff. When do I say ask challenging questions, here’s what I mean, okay? Typically we’ll say, “Well, how’s the going?” And they’ll go, “Oh, it’s all right. Things are good. I’m still cutting grass and feeding the horse.” And that’s where you say, “Now, how’s your family? How’s your life? Hey, tell me a little bit about your dreams.” When you ask those challenging and specific questions, you get more vulnerable and specific answers. I hope that helps.

Anna Mason:

Yeah, it’s great. Okay. Next question, Darryl, your story is inspiring. What tips would you recommend to those who are suffering from a poor work-life balance? How can we better manage our work-life balance, and what do you recommend for employers who have employees?

Darryl Stinson:

Okay. Let me start with the first half of that question. You’re ready?

Anna Mason:


Darryl Stinson:

I always do this. People ask me all the time, “Darryl, how do you stop addiction? How do you stop bad habits? How do you stop this?” Okay? Ready? You’re going to do it. I need your help, okay? Anna are you ready? All right, here we go. How do I stop hitting this bottle? How do I do it?

Anna Mason:

You stop.

Darryl Stinson:

Now, how do you have a better life, work-life balance? Stop overworking, quit your job, find a different job. Whatever you need to do, prioritize self-care because of what I said, because there may be a short-term challenge that you have to go through, but when you prioritize self-care, you will never go wrong. I never. And I’m a pastor, so I marry people, bury people, baby dedications. I’ve never been with a person on their death bed who complains about not working more. You know what their number one regret is, is that they didn’t spend more time with family. And so don’t live with regret, make that decision and do whatever you need to do. And I believe the universe, God, whatever, honors that commitment and that decision to prioritize yourself, okay?

If you’re an employer, number one, recognize that it’s not a financial advantage for you to continue to overwork people and not have great work-life balance. Research proves that your home life affects your work productivity, okay? So if you want people to stop being on social media at work, and you want people to be more committed and more productive, give them time for self-care, okay? The people… we have found that the week before vacation is always the most productive week. They give you, give your employees more vacation, right? And there are places in the world that are doing this well and great models to follow. So know that research actually proves that your bottom line will increase. Okay.

Anna Mason:

Awesome. Okay. Well, this will be our last one for this evening. But again, if you have more questions… Oh, sorry, two more. We had just had one more question come in. That’s good. If you have more questions, email me, Keith, put my link in the chat, follow us on social media and we’ll keep this conversation going. And if you have questions, you can put them in. We’ll see if we can get there or we will email you to follow up. Okay. Next question. My family thinks self-care is girly. What can I do to start taking self-care steps?

Darryl Stinson:

Okay. All right. My biggest thing with any type of stereotype is to prove it wrong by being the example, okay? So two really quick examples. I’ve always had to deal with systematic oppression, things like that. I’ve been turned down for opportunities because of the color of my skin. Not trying to get into that discussion, but what I’m telling you is that I use that as an opportunity to show people that I actually was educated and that I could defy what they thought was typical of a Black person, okay? The same thing applies to mental health, right? I remember when I first started doing all of this journaling and stuff, I had friends that I used to hang out with that made fun of me. They called me a Bible-thumper, they called me a softy, all right? Now they could call me that all day long. But one thing I bet you they won’t do is I bet you they won’t fight me.

So it doesn’t matter what they say. Listen, never let somebody’s opinion of you become your reality. Oftentimes people’s rejection of you is a projection of their own fears and insecurities. So, because they don’t know how to be vulnerable or practice self-care, they want to bring you down to that level, because if you’re successful at it, it reminds them of an area where they’re not as successful. So just live it out, be compassionate, and make sure if they ever want to fight you, you know how to throw a couple of punches.

Anna Mason:

Yeah. Awesome. Okay. Last question and I’m going to try to phrase it correctly. Whoever submitted this, I hope I’m doing justice for you if not follow-up with us. But, what have you found to be the most effective way to stress that even though change is difficult and takes a lot of dedication, that it’s worth giving the change and the results that can come from that a chance. I paraphrased, but how do we stress to those who are intimidated by how much effort it takes to change that it’s worth then?

Darryl Stinson:

So, you got to be patient with people. And if it’s you, you got to be patient with yourself. I always tell people, I have this little graph sometimes I draw when people ask me that question. I was like, the pain of staying the same is like this, it’s a circle, okay? Same insecurity, same argument in your marriage, new relationships same problem, new city same you, okay? So this is staying the same in the pain that keeps going over and over again. The pain of growth is like this, it’s really hard, get easier. It’s really hard, get easier. It’s really hard, it get easier. But over time you get better and better. And then you hit this point where, hey, this is not a problem anymore. And then guess what? You got to grow in another area. And it starts over again.

And so I think that visually helps people to recognize, “Okay, just because I have a bad day doesn’t mean I have a bad life, or doesn’t mean that I’m going backward,” right? Even in relapse, I don’t suggest anybody uses, but a lot of people they’ll make it like a year clean and then they’ll have one relapsed moment, and then they’re like, “Oh, I’m back to square one.” I’m like, “No, you’re not. You’re way further than what you used to be. Just get back on track. Don’t beat yourself up about it, pick yourself up.” And so you have to keep perspective because perspective is powerful, okay? Another way that you can get perspective, all right? Think about this, why can athletes endure an extreme amount of pain? Because they have a perspective that my pain actually has a purpose.

A lot of times when people are going through challenging times and trying to grow and they’re dealing with the stress of change, they don’t see the end. They don’t see the purpose in the middle of their pain, but they can, okay? They don’t have to wait. A lot of people say, “You don’t know until retrospect.” I disagree because you see people like Mohammad Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr., they had perspective in their pain. How can you get that perspective? You want to take a 50,000-foot view and you want to ask yourself, “What does this challenge make possible for me? What is this situation showing me about my relationships? What is this showing me about my love for myself?” When you have perspective in the middle of your pain, that’s when you can turn it into purpose.

Anna Mason:

Super good, great stuff. Darryl, thank you, seriously, so much for joining us. This is the best kickoff that I could have imagined. And we would love to hear your feedback. So again, if you have thoughts on this presentation, if you want to reach out to Darryl, if you are like, “I would love to hear this topic covered in the future,” we’d love to hear all that. So please feel free to reach out. We really believe that at APN this is a community. So we are not just a billboard for a presentation, we are a community of people who are here to support each other, to provide resources, to connect. Whatever that means, we want to help. So, Darryl, I’m going to take you off the spotlight here and wrap up. But thank you so much.

Darryl Stinson:

Thank you.

Anna Mason:

All right, everybody. This brings us to the end of the relaunch of the Virtual Speaker Series. As I said, we’re going to be doing this every month. So every month we’re going to be bringing a free speaker to you. We have a desire for better mental health and more meaningful recovery for everybody. So whether you are on campus, you’re alumni, you’re a family member, you’re a therapist, this is for you and we want to hear your feedback, we want you to be a part of it. So follow us on social media. Keep an eye out in your email for the next topic. And we will see you so soon. Thank you for being here. Have a great night. Bye.

Anna Mason

Anna Mason

Director of Marketing

Anna is a champion of stories and people person who works as the Director of Marketing for All Points North. Anna's heart beats for the "aha moments" of mental health, and she considers it an honor to create content that fosters these moments for people everywhere.