CEO and Founder, Stout Heart, Inc.; Principal of Stout Mediation Services; Counsel, Thurman Legal
Living with major depressive disorder and anxiety

In early 2013, genetics and challenging life stressors pushed Cam into the abyss of a major depressive episode. A year later, as a result of hard work and multiple therapies, he fought his way back into the light of day. Today, Cam feels “better than ever,” and continues to work as a successful mediator and lawyer. He also speaks out publicly about his own story of resilient recovery and hope, and as part of the battle against the social prejudice that surrounds mental health conditions.

Cam’s Story

How has your condition affected your life? What was your most difficult time?

I have been a successful lawyer since 1984. Major depression, alcoholism, and anxiety disorder run in my family. My father and his brother lost their lives to suicide. Although I was able to manage my conditions very effectively for decades with medication, therapy and exercise, life stressors, and genetic pre-disposition required my admission to a hospital psychiatric ward in 2013 with a diagnosis of a major depressive episode.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

My Valkyries (my mother and my sisters) and friends were key. Electro-convulsive therapy and anti-depressants were also therapeutic, coupled with getting back on the bike and the tennis court. I found competent and caring therapists and a psychiatrist, who were an important part of my recovery. Fortunately, by 2014, I had improved significantly and was able to return to work feeling better in many ways than I ever had. I also developed a meaningful Christian faith. My pastor has been a wonderful mentor and spiritual therapist.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

When I occasionally experience a mild, short depressive episode, I now wait it out, confident that it will pass quickly. I go to church and prayer group, AA meetings (I am now six years sober), take long bike rides, and play a lot of tennis. I am extraordinarily close with my family, and with my wonderful new wife. I take antidepressants daily. Friends, mentors, and my TSN comrades have been very supportive. I also make presentations about my journey through mental illness and substance abuse. When I wear my heart on my sleeve, the vast majority of folks share a mental health challenge that they or a loved one/friend is enduring.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

I have three pieces of advice:

First and foremost, have hope! Although there are currently no cures, there are many effective strategies for managing mental health conditions and addiction. Get diagnosed.  

Second, practice good self-care: Avoid the loneliness and isolation which Mother Teresa called the “leprosy of the modern age.” Assemble a “SEAL” team, an acronym for a Supportive, Energizing and Loving group that has your back. Exercise, exercise, exercise! A protocol of 150 minutes per week of physical activity has been shown to be as effective as medications.

Finally, realize that these conditions are not our fault. They are health conditions, not some failure of will or character defect. We can link arms to defeat them and to eradicate the social prejudices that surround them. Take heart!