Depression is an experience that is felt by so many sensitive people, and many of our clients have sought the MS Foundation's assistance around this condition. The following letters are from our clients and friends who have found happiness and relief by implementing the tools and mindset that we promote at our workshops and talks.
I know, at the deepest core of my being, the grip that depression, anxiety, and its closely related conditions can have on one’s life. I have felt its insidious hand reach out of the depths to strangle me while I am suddenly caught in a traffic jam on Route 93 Northbound in Boston, MA. I can feel my heart beating faster and faster in my chest, rapidly reaching a breakneck speed while my palms sweat, my legs literally begin to shake uncontrollably, and my eyes dilate to the size of saucers, and I know/believe/fear that I am about to die or at least have a heart attack. As hard as I try to take my mind away from the growing realization that I am indeed in a traffic jam, that the line of stopped and tapping-on the-breaks-cars stretches for as far as I can see, I can’t stop the nauseating, terrorizing chain of body-response events that begins to take place in rapid fire. I have been in this position far too many times to count. Some of them have landed me in the nearest Emergency Room, where I am tested (once again) for any signs of a heart condition, hooked up to IV fluids, and monitored for the next few hours before I am released (once again) with a diagnosis of Anxiety Attack and am sent back on my way, back to my busy day which has now been completely sidelined and altered. Next comes the days of recovery; the exhaustion my body must heal from after having such yet another traumatic shock to its system. There must be another way, I think to myself, and yet, search and search as I may from one doctor and/or psychotherapist to another, no solution had been found in my 49 years of life...until I met Michael Simonson of the Michael Simonson Foundation.
I am writing this letter to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to Michael, for assisting me with real tools to effectively solve a lifelong battle with depression and anxiety in literally one two hour session. In fact, I have recently retired from my teaching position after having been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My lifelong battle with anxiety, depression, and PTSD came to a head this past Fall, with a constellation of additional health issues. I have spent years working with numerous doctors and therapists, reading countless books and articles, and not one of these ‘solutions’ brought me to one fraction of the place in healing I was catapulted to once I began working with Michael Simonson on these issues. In fact, at least one of the therapists I worked with brought great harm to me due to her dangerous incompetence.
Michael taught me simple tools and truths about habitual choices I was making in my life, and ways that I was thinking which were detrimental to me; most importantly, how I was letting my fears in every area of my life take charge of my experience. These fears would then lead to yet another crippling anxiety attack, which would leave me powerless to function in my job and in life. These repeated and continuous panic attacks led to further physical health issues that I eventually needed surgery to remedy. Once I began to practice the simple exercises Michael taught me, all of my past anxiety was gone, virtually overnight, and with daily practice, I am confident that now I am in charge of my life; I will no longer give my power away to others, as I was doing on a regular basis even as a successful teacher for over twenty years. I will no longer live in the crippling terror and fear of life that I lived under for my entire existence.
As a high school teacher, I am also painfully aware of the prevalence of depression and anxiety in the teenage population today. The percentage of students with these issues seems to be increasing every year at an exponential rate; in fact, schools are overburdened with the responsibility of seeking solutions, therapy, and services for these students, and they are working very hard to fill in the gaps between home and school, with ever-shifting grey areas of responsibility. I strongly believe, from my own personal experience, that Michael Simonson can be a key player in the solution to solving these painful and difficult issues for children and adults. His methods are easy to learn and they are empowering tools for anyone seeking to improve their life and relationships.
Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and all of its other closely related conditions are all hot topics today that impact millions on a daily basis. These conditions do not discriminate in any way; they affect every population and age group, gender, and socio-economic level. Soldiers returning from war or service could benefit immensely from Michael’s tools and teachings. In fact, I have often felt that I understood, on some levels, what it must be like to be in war, because I experienced my life like that every day. And I am a teacher! Men, women, teenagers, and children, in every walk of life, no matter what their personal experience with depression and its closely related conditions is, could benefit immensely from learning Michael’s simple techniques and putting them into practice.
I wholeheartedly, with every fibre of my being, recommend the teachings and practices of Michael Simonson and his foundation. They have literally changed my life within a very short amount of time. I now look toward my own future with joy and confidence, and I look forward to the future of many others who will finally be able to live their lives free from the suffering they have endured at the hands of depression.
Kristen A. Pilarcik
I have been depressed for my entire life. Over the years, I have been diagnosed with major/clinical depression, dysthymia, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized and social anxiety disorders, eating disorders and substance abuse disorders.
I have taken psychiatric medications for 25+ years. I have had two psychiatric hospitalizations and I have experienced several nervous breakdowns. The last one was in 2012 and resulted in my medical retirement. I have been in various types of counseling and therapy. I was a very active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for almost 24 years. I also attended other 12 step programs and many other self-help groups. I have sought help through organized religion, shamanism, crystals, astrology and many other metaphysical and medical pursuits. I have seen countless medical professionals, and tried both traditional medicine and alternative medicine practitioners.
My work with the Michael Simonson Foundation began in 2014. That year I attended my first workshop and was first introduced to these simple truths: I am the master of my life; and I create my own reality through the thoughts that I empower. It was my first experience with hearing someone speak about my problems as I saw them, and deeply feeling as an instinctive and complete knowing, as truth that would work for me. It was also the first time I ever heard someone say, “don't believe anything I say, go out and check it out for yourself.”
So, that's exactly what I did! I explored, I learned how to deal with my life from a positive place by being in control of my thoughts. I have come to understand that fear and judgement have been the master of my life, instead of me being the master of my life. I have become an empowered woman and believe in the truth of who I am, and trust myself. I am learning how to identify and speak my truth. I attended my second workshop in August 2017 and my third in February 2018.
I have made significant changes in my life as a result of learning to love myself and to see all the experiences in my life not as burdens, but as opportunities to learn about myself and grow. In October of 2017, two months shy of my 24th anniversary, I left the program of Alcoholics Anonymous because I now understand that it is based in fear. I allowed my fear of alcohol to keep me immersed in a very depressed place for all of those years. Today I know that I am the master of my life and no longer allow my fears to control my life’s decisions. Another incredible change is that I no longer take anti-depressant, anxiety or pain medications! I truly never believed I'd ever be able to live without the help of these chemicals and I absolutely know today that I don't need them anymore.
Through Michael's support and the support of the Foundation, I have come to understand that my thoughts have energy and affect everyone around me, and if I make loving choices it affects everyone around me in positive ways. I know now that fear and judgement also rule others in this world, including those that I blamed for the “tragic” circumstances of my life. I now understand that these were not tragedies, but simply amazing learning opportunities. My life was depressing because I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t make choices that were positive or loving. Now that I am making choices to reflect my highest and greatest good, my relationship with myself and with my children has become positive and loving, and will continue to grow in positive ways as I continue to work with Michael on my process of self-empowerment.
Loria R., Sacramento, California
As a 50-year-old woman, I have suffered from moderate to severe depression for 35 years. I have been really good at coping strategies, masking techniques and doing what it takes to make it through the day. It wasn’t until I met Michael and worked with the Michael Simonson Foundation that I have learned how to really live a fulfilled existence where I am now able to provide myself the support and tools that I need to be the fullest expression of myself. After so many years of being on autopilot, I feel like I am finally at the helm steering my ship, in present time being here with the wind at my back. I am aware in the NOW, being 100% in service to myself and the population of children for whom I teach.
The simple and direct advice that the Michael Simonson Foundation provides is of the highest level! The skills they have taught me I am using in my work as an educator, teaching young children diagnosed with autism. When I am doing my work and being in a space of love I notice the positive outcomes that unfold before me, when nonverbal children will begin to utter words and dysregulated children become peaceful and calm, all of which creates a space for children to learn with ease and grace.
There is a sense of freedom in the Foundation’s teachings and I can now say that depression is no longer a label that I choose to identify with. Thank you, Michael, for your guidance and support to me and the children I serve!!!
MPS, Maine, USA
This letter is in Support of the Michael Simonson Foundation, and describes my life’s journey from anxiety and depression to living my life fully, creating from love, becoming a leader and having so much fun.
I am so blessed and fortunate to have met Michael in 2011, and I began contacting him for assistance in my life. My life was a struggle. I wanted to know what he knew and what he was teaching the children he worked with at the Hunter School. I actually wanted to job shadow him but I let logistic and cost obstacles get in the way of that being a possibility. I was a very lonely, depressed woman with anxiety raising my 3 children alone following a divorce in which my ex-husband moved away leaving the province. I had no belief in myself, was in fear, timid, shy, always seeking approval from others, always feeling wrong, a nuisance. I was guarded, insecure, wanting to do what others wanted of me, not wanting to fail or be rejected. I strived to make others happy in hopes that they would see me as good and love me. As Michael explained to me, I didn’t have a sense of self. I had never stopped to think ‘who was I’ or ‘what did I want’. I gave my power away to men as I had no sense of self-worth and looked outside of myself for acceptance, not wanting to displease. I constantly strived to be good at things; be it parenting, meals, work, etc., spending endless hours on simple things trying to get it right. I did not think I was smart, organized or good at anything. Now I know that all to be untrue.
I threw away my career as a S/LP because of anxiety although I didn’t know that was the reason at the time. I struggled putting in endless hours at work to get it right, doubting, fixing, never happy with the end product. I thought I was a fraud and anyone could do the job better than me. I began working for half of what I had been making. This is what fear does makes one feel small, not important, not worthy. I had two degrees and had thoughts of “why would anyone want to hire me”. I could not see the value in myself and this was only because of negative thinking; although, I didn’t know this at the time.
Wow as I think back the only thing that has changed is how I think and what I believe. I totally think and know that I am a gift, that I have a lot to offer the world, that I am intelligent, loved, whole and that anyone is benefited by my presence; such a huge contrast to what I used to think. I picked up the limited, unworthy thoughts from my parents as they also did not believe in themselves. I now see how our thoughts create our reality. The way I think creates the experiences I have. I lived in with anger, sadness and frustration and fear my whole life. I was an unhappy young girl who got into an unhappy marriage. As a young girl, I worked at not upsetting parents, teachers and friends and was always considered shy. I did not know love nor did my parents. Can you imagine what thought forms and beliefs I have given to my children. Yikes! Our children take on the way we think and look at the world. It was time for me to make a change for a better life for myself and my children and future generations.
I began working with Michael. I began learning simple truths. It sounded so easy, so simple and it took some practice. I would forget and I would listen to the negative thinking that I had grown up with that was constant in my head. In the beginning, I didn’t talk to Michael enough. I started contacting him to help me understand situations that I was creating from fear; such as, worry about facing my ex-husband for child support. I became more determined wanting a better life for me and for my kids, so tired of the struggle, unhappiness and worry. I got better and better at incorporating Michael’s teachings into my life as a new way of living, a new way of thinking with Michael’s help. It took re-creating new thought forms and not empowering the negative ones that had run my whole. My children also learned to function and live with worry and fear as their master as they had learned from their parents as I did from mine and my parents did from theirs. I now get to teach them how to be the masters of their life from a different place, a place of love.
Michael sees and saw me for who I really AM. Love. Truth. Whole. Complete and because he saw me I began to see myself. He saw that I was living via negative thinking, thoughts that limited myself, that gave my power away, that created a life with struggle and hardship. He taught me simple truths. Fast forward. I now am a leader, leading groups of individuals on adventures. I’m no longer a loner but I love bringing people together to have fun, to live fully. I am running for President of my Toastmaster’s club (who would have thought wow; this is huge as years ago, I went to a Toastmasters meeting and didn’t say a word and didn’t go back). I am emerging as a leader in my community, teaching those who desire to take charge of their life. I AM leading my family and new generations in a new way of thinking and living. I feel so fulfilled, so grateful for Michael’s teachings in taking back control of my life. Now I no longer share in the negative thought forms of the world that it is hard, scary. Instead I am creating new positive ones that life is fun, an adventure, whatever I choose to make of it. I choose to LIVE. My biggest wish is for others to know what is possible and there is another way to live, from loving positive thoughts not fearful negative ones.
Joanne P., Ontario, Canada
I wanted to take the time today to write to you about my recent experience at a workshop hosted by the Michael Simonson Foundation.
The workshop for me was eye opening. I came back with the feeling and a sense of conviction that what I experienced and heard in the past couple days was truth. Pure and loving truth, I’m sure of it. After looking for answers for many years to certain questions I had about life, I was happy to find them in the workshop with Michael. Michael was the form in which the truth traveled, and a hell of a good one.
What I learned from the workshop was simple, just like all truths tend to be. Thoughts are energy, energy follows intent, your thoughts create your reality. This piece of knowledge gave me a strong sense of power; the sense that I am in charge of my life, and that I create, with others, the world that we see before us today. This knowledge was a crucial piece of the puzzle for me. Every moment is decision about whether we choose love or fear. Every moment is a beautiful moment of creation in which you have the opportunity to decide, moment by moment, whether you choose to create with love or fear. I noticed that once we create with love, life is limitless. Human potential is limitless.
The interaction during the workshop with the rest of the group and Michael is of a kind that I have not found often in life. Judgment free, open-minded and loving. The moment I stepped into the workshop environment and the people that surround it it, I felt this deep sense of relaxation. Take away judgment and one is free of the need to prove oneself to others. Free from the need to feel accepted and loved. At the workshop I was accepted for who I am, in my totality.
For me personally, the most striking thing about the workshop and the knowledge shared by Michael is that there was no dependency. I’ve heard truths about life before and although the knowledge was sound, it often involved becoming dependent on the person providing the knowledge. During the workshop I was free. Free to do as I pleased, free to believe or not to believe, free to apply the knowledge to my life or not. Michael is simply speaking his truth and we, as free will beings, are free to decide whether to apply it or not. And that for me is what truth should be. Truth that not only makes sense logically, emotionally and spiritually, but truth that is unconditional and free.
Christiaan C., Holland
I need look no further than within my own family and the generations that preceded mine, to know of the significant consequences of depression. On Valentine’s Day of 2005 my brother Jeff, my soulmate and best friend, took his own life. I know that Jeff had planned exactly how it was to happen. My Great Uncle on my Mother’s side committed suicide in the identical way, fifty years previously. My Great Grandfather, also on my Mother’s side, committed suicide a generation before that. When one speaks of legacy, suicide is one that I’ve inherited.
One thing that I can say with crystal clarity is that when I had my own children (I have two sons, currently aged 20 and 16) I wondered if one of them might inherit the same disposition as my brother, great uncle and great grandfather. Fast forward a handful of years: in 2011 I was hired to begin producing and filming a short film project for a private school in western Massachusetts, where I was told I was going to meet some guy that was known to be a unique teacher. Less than a week later at our kick-off meeting I met Michael Simonson.
I could go on and talk about all the awesome and positive changes in my life that began to take place upon meeting Michael. What happened was that by the use of simple words, Michael opened my eyes. By speaking to me in a non-judgmental way, I learned why I had been unable to find true joy or love in my life. Michael allowed me to see that completely changing my life was simple.
While there is no such thing as luck in life, I often think how wonderful it is that this Everest-climbing adventure filmmaker guy from New Hampshire got so fortunate as to be able to film and travel with this unique teacher named Michael Simonson. Michael taught me the things that I already had known. Now, I have the ability to create joy, love and true happiness in my life.
Today, I am not only free from sadness of the loss of my wonderful brother, but am now thankful to him for having provided me with the incredible opportunity to learn. In me knowing these things, I can help my sons understand how simple it is to find happiness in life. I’m rewriting the legacy of depression and suicide in a family!
Thank you for taking the time to hear my short story. May you also find the peace and joy of these simple truths that Michael has to share.
With kind regards,
To whom it may concern,
Hi, my name is Stephen. I'm writing this letter to testify to the effectiveness and trans-formative power of what I learned through working with the Michael Simonson Foundation, and to express my deepest gratitude for these selfless teachers. For me to say it's just an education would be a major understatement. I can say this with utmost sincerity because without it, I wouldn't be the person I am today.
Here's a little story about how Michael's work impacted me. When I was ten years old, my parents got divorced and even at that young age I knew it was probably for the best. I was no stranger to family dysfunction, with a mother too afraid to leave my brother and I for fear of coming home and finding out what nasty thing my father had said or done to us. To paint a better picture, my father wasn't generally physically abusive, except on a few occasions with me, but instead he preferred to try his best to make us hurt emotionally, behaving more like a bully throwing around his weight or a king drunk on power than a teacher or a leader. In my earliest memories I can recall my brother and I becoming upset with my dad after one of his tantrums and my father saying things along the lines of "You would have no food if it wasn't for me, then how would you survive" or "How would it make you feel if I died tomorrow." When I was given a punishment and I asked why, the answer was always "Because I'm the boss" or "Because I'm in charge" followed by either a smug expression or one of passionate rage. There was no real structure in his discipline, being that some days were "anything goes" days and other days were "lesson" days on which anything I said or did might land me in the hot seat. I hated him for treating my mother, brother, and I so poorly, and he seemed to hate me for being the son who held him accountable for it. My little brother learned early that when we had a dispute, all he had to do was scream for my father, and he'd come running with a head full of steam for the guilty party and the guilty party was always me. He would even compliment my brother on his ability to tease or harass me without implicating himself, saying to me "You should learn from him because he can get away with things better than you."
My father was my first experience of injustice. This relationship was likely the source of my jaded attitude toward authority from a young age. The chaos filled years during and after my parents' separation made the predating ones look like The Brady Bunch. My mother and father battled for custody during which time my mother became pregnant with her new boyfriend's child. My father did his best to inspire resentment toward our mother in us, and our mother did her best to win a long, drawn-out custody war on the advice of her lawyer who was notorious for churning his cases to milk clients for a hefty payday. My father wanted to settle out of court but my mother didn't trust him to keep his word (since he liked to break his word). Both sides used my brother and I as pawns to win settlement money, assets, and custody of us. The manipulation was constant and very apparent to me, although not to my brother, who I watched go from being inseparable from my mother to becoming filled with hate for her, the new man in her life, and our new little brother. My father had always been good at manipulation tactics and was pleased when my brother began to "see things his way."
When it was all said and done my mother's long awaited settlement was a small fraction of what she was expecting and we spent years moving from house to house, and living with family friends for some time. One wonderful thing came during this period, however. My little brother Billy was born a diamond in the rough. Those years were my first experience of politics and subterfuge. In school I scored highly on tests, but my grades were low because I didn't do homework. I'd learned well the world of manipulation and I would do ANYTHING to avoid bringing school home with me. This caused a major rift between my parents and I, and the more upset they got with me, the more upset I became with them, school, the "system" and this whole process of life as it was fed to me. I felt so alone, as though I had nobody. If I didn't do well in school, nobody liked me and this made all the adults in my life seem two-faced and plastic to me, as though my worth as a person was measured by the grades I was getting. During this period I punched holes in many a wall in moments of anger when I was forced to stay home on weekends (my only days free from what I had deemed forced labor).
Anger became my best friend because it was the only emotion that justified my depression. Anger was a step up from depressed for me because it granted me the illusion of power. I felt defeated but I wasn't going to take it lying down, meaning I would hold out if it meant never touching a sheet of school work again. After all, most everyone was crazy except me (and my close buddies)! This theme intensified as I progressed from middle school and on to high school. I felt like people were trying to break my spirit and I needed to be my own best friend, but that can be a scary mental place to occupy when you don't understand the power of your thoughts, and the simple habit of watching and mastering them. In other words, if you don't make your thoughts work for you, then it's you who works for them, and you become a puppet to their every suggestion and impulse. This is one of the simple truths Michael taught me when I first met him. What my mother couldn't do by enrolling me in therapy, and my father couldn't do by squeezing me tight in a headlock, Michael Simonson did with simple truth, which makes up the foundation of everything he teaches; You create your reality with the thoughts that you empower.
Now I understand I can choose to create from a place of love or from a place of fear. I was astonished to learn that I had this power all along, and the entire time I thought my strength was in my anger, but that anger was only coming from a fear of being powerless. That fear became irrational once I understood the power I do have, and that I've always had. Rather than defining myself through the eyes of others, or trying to change everyone around me, I learned I can define myself through my very next thought, which will lead me to my next action, in turn creating my life's experience the way I choose. When you learn about this innate power we all share, non judgement begins to make a lot more sense.
I can now look at others and understand that they're either making choices based in love or in fear. When I was first able to see my parents and other authority figures in my life as people just like me, who are either choosing to be the master of their thoughts, or be a puppet to their fears, it transformed my reality. No longer was I a victim and no longer did I have anything to prove by sabotaging myself.
Some of the people closest to me noticed a major shift in me after I began to change my thinking. When they asked me about it, I explained some of the things Michael taught me and how I was choosing to own my life and live from a place of love rather than fear. I know that our conversations must have resonated with them on some level because, after a while, I noticed undeniable positive changes in them too. It's now become obvious to me that ways of thinking are contagious. By choosing to be our best versions and thinking in new ways, we can spread positive ripples throughout our families, communities, and the entire planet. Michael and the Foundation reached me in this very way. They provided the light that guided me from a very dark place into a place where I now have a much clearer understanding of what real strength is, and it's nothing to do with how you're perceived but everything to do with how you perceive. Thank you for giving me the gift of wisdom and for saving my life.
Stephen, Newark NJ