My Toy Company Is Joy Personified, But I Struggled With Depression for Decades
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My Toy Company Is Joy Personified, But I Struggled With Depression for Decades


Written content warning: suicidal ideation

To the outside the house earth, I lived a excellent daily life. My toy business, Melissa & Doug, which I founded in 1988 alongside my partner, Doug Bernstein, experienced developed from a small procedure operate out of Doug’s parents’ garage into a 50 %-billion greenback business enterprise. Doug and I had been married for above 30 several years we experienced 6 young children and a wonderful home, all of which I was profoundly grateful for. And still, at several details in my lifetime, I wished to end it all.

The creator at age 5.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

I can’t remember a specific instant that led me to request therapy for the psychological health issues that had plagued me for five many years, no one particular incident of peeling yellow wallpaper or permitting out a primal wail whilst driving down the avenue. Likewise, there was no 1 trigger for my existential melancholy and anxiety—just the awareness that this feeling of despondency and hopelessness about the this means of existence experienced been within me, seemingly, from birth. Then a person day, the cry of my personal soul—my drive to be observed for who I truly was—became so loud that I couldn’t ignore it any extended.

lifelines author and melissa and doug cofounder melissa bernstein
My teenager a long time.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Depression has lengthy been regarded a person of the most common mood problems, and yet it is turning into even a lot more commonplace with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the grief, uncertainty, and worry that has come along with it. Previous August, the Facilities for Disease Management and Avoidance documented that during a interval of only six days, from June 24 to 30, adults expert amplified psychological health problems, as nicely as an maximize in both material use and suicidal ideation. That was about three months into lockdown. By slide, an additional review (by JAMA Community Open) unveiled that signs and symptoms of despair had tripled in adults. With the darkish winter season months that followed, bringing Seasonal Affective Problem into the mix, it’s no question that despair prices have ongoing to rise, even as spring and the likely relief introduced by vaccines solution.

For me, inner thoughts of anguish predated the pandemic. As a baby, I was not able to be calmed. I was often upset, and I simply cannot try to remember a time in my existence when I was not desperately pondering, Why am I right here? What is the meaning of lifestyle? A longing to be ideal exacerbated my unhappiness. I strived to be the quintessential high-achiever, but I felt so profoundly imperfect, so unique, like I could possibly as nicely be from a further earth. If my aim was to be a blooming, beautiful rose, my melancholy was like a thorn persistent and sharp and very substantially in the way.

melissa and doug bernstein of melissa and doug
Doug and I started Melissa & Doug in 1988—I still provide as the company’s Chief Creative Officer.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

This was a quite unpleasant way to exist, of training course, but I did not share my emotions with any individual. I saved it all hidden inside of me, which produced my circumstance progressively worse. As a teenager, I gathered enough capsules from around the household to fill a tiny bottle that I would carry in the pocket of my jeans. That was my out, my escape from this planet if the ache grew to become too great.

By the time I turned fifty, there was so considerably more at stake, and so much far more to conceal. Unquestionably, developing toys for children—and parenting my own—has introduced me tremendous joy. But what did it say about me, that I could even now be frustrated with this unbelievable abundance in my existence, and what would it say to the environment if I had been to reveal this about myself?

melissa and doug bernstein of melissa and doug, pictured with their six children in connecticut
The Bernstein spouse and children at house in Connecticut.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Any individual who has struggled with melancholy, either of the existential sort or the styles induced by existence functions or a chemical imbalance, appreciates how exhausting it can be. And just after 5 a long time of repressing and resisting every thing I was, and everything I experienced felt, I was weary. I could not combat my depression on my have for just one much more working day. I simply no more time experienced the electrical power. And with that realization, arrived liberation. I experienced arrived at a breaking position and no for a longer time cared about what many others would think of me.

melissa bernstein of melissa and doug
The creator these days.

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

I commenced noticing that acquaintances in my neighborhood had been raving about a distinct therapist, and I made a decision to attain out to her. We jelled from the get started. I knew I could believe in her, and we quickly have been off on an incredible journey collectively. This journey, admittedly, was also the scariest, most grueling do the job I have at any time recognized. I had to go as deep as I had at any time gone, stare despair proper in the eye, and relinquish the plan of getting best. That was terrifying and pretty, pretty dark—and I was not guaranteed I would make it out alive.

LifeLines: An Inspirational Journey from Profound Darkness to Radiant Gentle

But thankfully, I did. And once I started off connecting the dots, I realized that if I hadn’t been so determined to maintain my melancholy concealed, I could have gotten support a ton previously. I experienced considered I was by itself I wasn’t. I experienced imagined my inner thoughts and fears have been shameful they weren’t.

That was 4 years in the past. Currently, I even now provide as Melissa & Doug’s Chief Creative Officer, but my experience with therapy impressed me to create a absolutely free on the net local community named LifeLines.com, to assistance many others as they find their way to psychological wellness. I don’t declare to have all the solutions, only a profound drive to assist other individuals sense significantly less alone. Friedrich Nietzsche, a thinker and poet whose perform I appreciate, famously offered this advice: “Throw roses into the abyss and say, ‘Here is my many thanks to the monster who didn’t triumph in swallowing me alive.’” Despair can feel like both equally a monster and an abyss. But we can aid each and every other to exist as our correct selves as roses, with our thorns and all.

If you or an individual you know is at risk, connect with the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-Discuss (8255) or textual content Dwelling to 741741 to information with a qualified disaster counselor from the Crisis Text Line for free.

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