inspiration | December 18, 2011

Drew Dudley: Talking Candidly About Mental Health and Leadership

In a recent TEDx talk, Drew Dudley, a charismatic speaker best known for his student leadership initiatives, opened up about a highly personal subject: the mental illness he has suffered from, quietly, for many years. His hope was to use his personal experiences to help others speak freely about their experiences, whether they suffer themselves, or know loved ones who do.

Dudley paints a vivid picture of his life with bipolar disorder, a disease that he describes as making "my brain think that I am the enemy.” It wasn't until he hit bottom—considering suicide as a last-ditch defense against his own mind—that he finally reached out for help, and was properly diagnosed. Asking for help wasn't easy. Dudley says now, "that was the strongest I had ever had to be." He feared that to his friends and colleagues he would become a total contradiction, that he could never inspire leadership while being open about his own struggle with mental illness. People, he thought, simply wouldn't trust him. 

But Dudley realized that leadership means having the courage to change reality. For him that meant seeking the appropriate treatment for this life-threatening disorder. Whether you struggling with mental illness or not, Dudley concludes, everyone is confronted with obstacles. Leadership is about taking any and all necessary steps to overcome them—to change your reality, and to shape your life into the life you want to live.

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environment | December 15, 2011