Week 18

I made it! The Chicago Marathon was incredible. Fun race. Great city. Amazing crowds. Chilly weather (which was perfect). I ran strong and wasn’t sore afterwards (that day or the next). Got my 2nd fastest marathon time with a few stops for selfies along the way :) And I’m so blessed to have my parents and close friends join me in Chicago that weekend. Truly an amazing weekend that couldn’t have been any better. Out of 112 people on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team…I ended up in 2nd place for fund-raising. Thank you to so many people for making that happen. WE are saving lives! Here are some of my recent posts on Facebook. Thank you all again!

October 9th
Thank you again everyone who supported me this year! It’s never really about the finish line for me. I cherish all steps along the way and am touched by so many stories and support. It may sound strange, but at mile 14 my thought was that this was going to be over way too soon (my thoughts had changed by mile 21 – ha!). This past weekend was filled with memories of my sister and at times the weight of this cause (especially as I crossed the finish line), but also with so much laughter and smiles while hanging out with close friends and my parents. Thanks to everyone in Chicago for making this a fantastic weekend. Chicago was amazing! And thank you everyone for helping fight the stigma! As an extra bonus, Paula Radcliffe (women’s marathon world record holder since 2003) is the one who put the finisher medal on me. I had no idea who she was at the time but others in that short line were taking selfies with her so I did too :) Trust the journey! Thanks again! WE are saving lives. #RaceAFSP

IMG_9215

IMG_9196

IMG_9251

Strange that out of 112 people, only three of us showed up to meet before the race. I will say that Chicago was complete chaos before each wave of the race started. People were running everywhere. Guys were peeing everywhere. Seemed a bit out of control. Boston was way better organized before the race. But…for the race itself…Chicago did a fantastic job with so many water and snack stops, and the finish area. Although the course has twists and turns everywhere, it is a fun run through the city. I am still so touched by Boston itself – the people, history, route…but Chicago is my 2nd favorite race now. My biggest complaint is that Nike ran out of EVERYTHING in men’s medium by early afternoon on the FIRST day of the expo…seriously?!?? Their planning was complete crap. How could Nike get that so wrong – tanks, shirts, jackets…anything in size medium was gone by Friday morning from the expo and the Nike store. Boooo. They get some redemption for having such cool dreaming signs all over the place, but it’s too bad that more of us won’t be able to buy and wear their gear :(

IMG_9268

I was one of the lucky ones to have Paula Radcliffe put the finisher medal over my head right after the race. Cool! She holds the Women’s World Record time of 2:15:25 for the marathon since 2003.

IMG_9272

IMG_9276

IMG_9356

Looking and feeling good at mile 21! This was my last stop before finishing the race.

IMG_9383

IMG_9386

IMG_9391

Visited The Aviary for a post-marathon reward!

IMG_9337

IMG_9395

Thank you Jen for being a great training partner! I can’t wait for our next one! :)

IMG_9401

43544661_10155849582353601_1352618800763109376_n

October 7th
Today’s the big day! Thank you all for so much support and for sharing so many stories along the way. WE are saving lives. I carry many names with me when I run today…I’m sure I didn’t list everyone here but it’s time for me to head out to a little race! :) Some of the people I will carry in my heart today and will think about along the way: Katherine, Charlie, Jake, Alissa, Kent, Sarah, Madison, Stephen, Susan, Colin, Sally, Jodi, Vaughn, Joann…and I’m sure some I missed. Thank you all again for the support for this great cause!

43308890_10216122453081536_7347323900985868288_o

October 6th
Several people ask me why I drove to Chicago for the Marathon. Besides Wisconsin being beautiful this time of year, driving gives me much needed space for thoughts, reflection and self-care. Running on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team in memory of my sister can get heavy at times. I openly share most of my story (and thank you all for so much support!), but I also know when I need to take care of myself. On the drive down this week, I listened to several podcast episodes of the Hilarious World of Depression (see link at bottom of this post for a great episode). John Moe does an amazing job interviewing comedians and a variety of artists who struggle with mental health issues.

Several themes emerged from my listening: people often struggle for years not feeling like themselves but not knowing why and not readily being able to identify it as something like depression; once they talked to people and often got a diagnosis, they felt relief and could take steps toward treatment; they learned to be ok with themselves – to ignore the negative voice of depression; they know it is a journey but that they will get through it; and they also have often found their own, unique “tools” to get them through daily struggles. Many take medication, but there are also a variety of self-care tips they use on a daily basis to help them feel better. I like to drive and be alone, they did things such as crosswords, puzzles, drinking milkshakes slowly through a straw, exercising, eating cashews, listening to certain songs, and undoing knots (I love that last one!).

The point is…don’t question what works for you, but get to know and trust yourself and provide the self-care whenever you need it without worrying about why it works. Depression wants you to feel alone and to have self-doubt. Anything you do to combat that and makes you feel better is OK. Keep doing it! John and these artists (and me!) share their stories because they never know who is listening and may be inspired to just talk to someone or to call or text a crisis number. By sharing how we’re feeling, and sharing stories, we fight the stigma of mental health issues and save lives.

The Hilarious World of Depression podcast tells many stories and will land with people differently, but one episode I really found engaging was with Ana Marie Cox.

And of course another plug for my fund raising for the race TOMORROW!!!

43357855_10216115084297321_7518952572250488832_o

October 5th
I made it to Chicago! It’s been 20+ years since I lived here…it’s windy, chilly, rainy, and the police are on every corner preparing for protests – nothing has changed…it feels like home…and I love it! I did a 3 mile run this morning out to the end of Navy Pier. The next time I run will be Sunday morning at the start of the marathon. 26.2 miles on the American Foundation for SUICIDE PREVENTION team. Don’t miss your chance to support me and this great cause…

43220511_10216110736148620_5399148386450407424_n

43310226_10216110735668608_798214444986400768_n

43296425_10216110736548630_9138673847258578944_n

43178738_10216110735588606_2597191153665179648_n

October 2nd
My Chicago Marathon race jersey finally came! Here’s the front and back (thanks again Richard Olson for the help!). Running 26.2 miles in something I’ve never worn before – what could possibly go wrong :) I’m ready to do my part! It’s not too late to donate to this great cause – but you need to hurry!!! I’d love your support today to help tackle suicide, mental health issues and to fight the stigma! I can’t bring my sister back, but I can run and share my experiences. There are stories and struggles all around you whether you know it or not. Be there for others – listening without judgment can make all the difference. Tell someone (tell me) if you are struggling. You will get through this. Thank you for so much support already!

43004274_10216087060676748_4018004268333137920_o

43079453_10216087060956755_7665424417471594496_o

Week 16 Chicago Marathon

Less than two weeks until I run the Chicago Marathon for AFSP! Other than a lingering cough I feel great. Running strong. Staying healthy. Raising awareness. Sharing stories. Saving lives. My long run was 23 miles – pushed by my friend Jen to go way faster than I ever planned to go in a marathon (if the weather is cool & dry on race day we’ll see what happens, but I’m just as happy to finish slower with a smile on my face).

StPrun

One of the spectators lining up to watch me on my training run this past weekend!

IMG_9028a

At the end of August, I had a great 13 miles in Grand Marais, MN. There is a mile-long hill leading down into town along Lake Superior. In years past maybe I would run up that hill once. This time I did it five times (grey bumps in the graph). Up and down, up and down. Just like those facing struggles each day, if you look at the map view you don’t see my ups and downs, you don’t know what I was going through (especially each time at the bottom when I’d tell myself “What hill”!). The pic with elevation tells the real story! Try not to judge what others are going through – you may never know – just be there for them and listen which can make all the difference. The run felt good. Beautiful scenery. Town was waking up. Helped me make room for the World’s Best Donuts later on.

GMhills

GMrun

IMG_8793

IMG_8801

IMG_8904

For World Suicide Prevention Week in mid-September, we posted a few messages on a whiteboard outside of my office at work. A lot of the content came from the “Tomorrow Needs You” campaign by the nonprofit TWLOHA. Here are some of the pictures and content I shared on Facebook that week asking people to learn and help:

  • Read the fantastic 1-pager from the International Assoc for Suicide Prevention
  • Read this TOMORROW NEEDS YOU blog post. Watch the video. Share with others. Make a list of why tomorrow needs YOU.
  • IMG_8933a

    IMG_8942a

    IMG_8940a

    I can’t tell you how touched I am that the “KCMO lemonade girls” raised $16 for me this past week by selling lemonade. Thank you Boogie, Abby, Gigi and Evie! Boog is the daughter of one of my college roommates and her previous donation of $1 was already one of my favorite donations. EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR COUNTS. $1, $10, whatever, it all goes to the important cause of raising awareness to mental health issues, helping prevent suicide, and fighting the stigma.

    And on this quiet street in Kansas City, in under a few hours of selling lemonade, two of their customers had stories to tell about suicide. Stories are everywhere. I know it can be hard, but sharing our stories and struggles helps fight the stigma. People will listen. I will listen. I carry your stories with me when I run.

    IMG_8983b

    And here’s why I do it. Love and miss you Katherine.

    LovelyKatherine

    THANK YOU for your support. Tomorrow needs ME to keep raising awareness and fighting the stigma of mental health issues! Thank YOU for helping make a difference. WE are saving lives. It’s all about creating awareness. TALK to others. SHARE your story. LISTEN without judgment. TELL someone if you are struggling. YOU will get through this. WE are saving lives. I’d still love your DONATION too for this important personal cause. Please. This money allows the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to continue their wonderful, life-saving work. I promise I’ll earn it as I run the Chicago Marathon for AFSP in just a few weeks! Thanks for taking the time to read this! And thanks for all of the support already!

    Two weeks to go – I’d love your support and donation. DONATE HERE to make a difference: https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/Dave-Thompson

    #RaceAFSP

    Week 13 Chicago Marathon

    Here is content from two posts I shared on Facebook this week.

    You. Are. Not. Alone.

    Simple words. So hard to believe when struggling.

    My mom surprised me with shoe tags before I ran the Boston Marathon. I’ve bought them for each marathon since. Here are my tags for this year’s Chicago Marathon when I run on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team on October 7th (6 weeks away – yikes!!).

    shoetag

    I am not alone. It’s a great reminder for me. You don’t how I’m doing today. How I’m really doing. You only know what I share. And even that is only if you are paying attention or watching out for me. You don’t know what worries and anxieties I have about tomorrow and beyond. You don’t know what I can’t let go of from the past. You don’t know what struggles and challenges I face today. What makes me want to stay in bed but won’t let me sleep. What may seem small to you but seems insurmountable to me. Maybe today was a low point and I hid it well. Maybe I struggle in silence not sure if others will listen, not sure if things will get better. These shoe tags remind me that I’m not in anything alone, even when solutions and steps forward aren’t clear. That there is hope for tomorrow. The same goes for you. You are not alone. You are never alone.

    I’m also not alone in the steps and training I take towards the Chicago Marathon. I’m not alone in my highs. I’m not alone when I raise awareness and share my story. I’m not alone when I worry about all of those who may be struggling. If I will say the right thing and provide enough support to those who need it. If I’ll even notice when others need help. I’m not alone in providing this support to others and worrying if I’ve done enough. I’m not alone when I reach out, listen, do my best, and just try to be there for others. I’m not alone when I fight the stigma of mental health issues and suicide. I’m not alone when I strive to get better about being accepting of others and what they may be going through, especially when I don’t understand. Thank YOU for being part of this journey with me. WE are saving lives. WE are never alone.

    Six weeks to go – I’d love your support and DONATION.

    A few days ago I ran just over 21 miles while training for the AFSP (Suicide Prevention) team for the Chicago Marathon. It felt great but my run seemed crazy at times – peacocks crossed my path (true), a turkey flew at me (true – got spooked by a dog and strollers after I took my pic), and I saw a flock of flamingos (sort of true). The other craziness from this week is that I’m back in 1st place (for raising awareness & saving lives!) on the AFSP team out of 112 people. Woohoo! Thank you all! It is amazing to have so many people sharing their stories and showing their support. I’d love your help getting to 6K as my next milestone! Thank you all – WE are saving lives.

    IMG_8720

    IMG_8725

    IMG_8727

    https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/Dave-Thompson #RaceAFSP

    Week 11 Chicago Marathon

    This is a test…a bit exaggerated, maybe a bit of awkward fun (at my expense), but please read to hopefully learn a bit more about how we react to others who may be struggling.

    I’m in Week 11 (of 18) while training on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team for the Chicago Marathon. Training and raising awareness for this important cause are going well (keep those DONATIONS coming!).

    But I have a struggle.

    nipstrip

    A marathon is 26.2 miles. Anywhere from 1500 – 2000 steps per mile. ~50,000 opportunities for my shirt to rub against certain parts of my body.

    Seriously.

    That’s my struggle.

    Every step can rub.

    If it’s super hot or raining it’s even worse.

    It’s distracting.

    It’s frustrating.

    That shower after running makes me want to scream!

    Ok…PAUSE and think for a few seconds. What’s your reaction to hearing this? What thoughts went through your brain?

    Did you judge?

    Think I brought this on myself by running in the first place?

    Think I should get over it?

    Think it’s not that bad?

    Think I should be stronger?

    Did you feel awkward and not know what to say? Maybe wish I wasn’t sharing on this topic?

    Think that you’ve been through worse so why should I complain?

    I’m in no way trying to diminish the reality of mental health struggles…but even for this tiny example think about how you react and process hearing about others who are struggling. Who cares what the struggle is. Who cares how big or small you perceive the challenge. Who cares if you feel awkward and aren’t sure how to react.

    We need to work through our own judgments and discomfort to be there for others. It’s not our job to judge. Who knows when something that seems small can spiral into larger issues.

    Many of the reactions I listed are in 10 Things Not to Say to Someone With Depression. Be there for those around you. Listen. Let go of your judgment. Let them know that they are not alone. Sometimes all they need is someone to just be there.

    If you are struggling, know that it is critical that you share with others. Know that you are not alone. Find someone who will listen. Sometimes small daily steps can help (e.g., meditation, exercise) and other times we need professional help. Share what’s going on and we’ll find a way to get through it.

    I’d love your support as we NIP suicide in the bud! ;) Click here to DONATE. WE are saving lives.

    And…just so you don’t lose sleep worrying about me…my new favorite running accoutrement is NipStrips. I’m saved. Problem solved. And I love the guarantee on this fantastic product that has made all the difference…if your nips aren’t fully satisfied…

    IMG_8639

    And just a few quick updates on my running progress. Week 11 and I’m still running strong. Thank you Jen for planning another long route! It is amazing that we can run 20 miles and very soon after be able to eat and grab a drink, and not be sore in the days afterwards. So what’s the difference in just running 6 more miles on race day??? I hope NOTHING this year!

    The weather has been fun. Even when I get up early to run it seems I’m facing high humidity and dew points. I haven’t looked yet to see what average temps are for the Chicago Marathon. A nice chilly day in the 50s or 60s would be great!

    IMG_8549

    I ran almost 20 miles for my long run this week while Minnesota had poor air quality alerts. They suggested that you stay indoors and limit physical activity. Uh…hard to do when I have a training plan and have committed to run for a cause I believe in.

    airquality

    The sun and sky were hazy cool in the morning.

    IMG_8572

    Despite some higher temps and poor air quality we ran steady regardless of any changes in elevation!

    ScreenClip2

    Thanks again for your support. WE are saving lives!

    Week 10 Chicago Marathon

    Wow – great 10th week of training for the Chicago Marathon on the AFSP team! It was a powerful week connecting with others and raising awareness to the importance of mental health for all of us. I was also blessed by so much generosity for this cause that is so important to me and my family. I can’t thank you enough. I went from 4th or 5th in fundraising to #1…let’s keep it that way by keeping those DONATIONS coming in for AFSP! I like to think of it as I’m #1 in saving lives and raising awareness!

    It’s always nice to get unexpected gifts in the mail. Here’s a training shirt for the AFSP team. My kids think it is a bit bright – I guess that’s the point :)

    IMG_8491

    Here are a few recent questions we put on the whiteboard outside of my office at work. I can’t deny the feeling of joy and connection that I get when someone reaches out to me or I get a new donation. The notes and stories inspire me and keep me going. The generosity and support touches my heart. I assume it’s a connection with doing good in the world in my sister’s name and knowing that she would be proud of what I’m doing. What gives you joy and happiness in the world? Do more of those things ;)

    IMG_8526

    IMG_8470

    This past weekend we went to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market (after my 13 mile training run of course!). I stopped by the BBQ At the Market booth which is put on by the Face It Foundation. I met the owner and chatted for just a bit about the work that they do to “give men the support they need to face depression, take control of their recovery and get their lives back” – and all free services. Wow – what a mission. And their food was awesome too – loved it! In the past year or so I’ve had 3 different people let me know that someone connected to them (e.g., friend, neighbor, co-worker) committed suicide, and they wanted to know how they could provide support to the family. The three people who died were all men, I’m guessing all 40+ years old. Guys, you gotta talk. Share what’s going on. There is hope. There is a way out. You will get through this. But we need to do it together. Organizations like Face It can provide support that you need. Reach out to me if you ever want or need to talk. We will get through this. UPDATE: the day after I met the founder of Face It, I had someone at work approach me asking what support they could get for a middle-aged man that they know. Perfect timing. I love it when connections like that happen!

    And how did I hear about Face It in the first place? By connecting with someone at work. When we share our stories amazing connections can happen. Soon after I crossed the finish line at Lola’s half marathon earlier this year wearing my “Defeat the Stigma” shirt, I heard a voice yell, “I like your shirt”. I could hear a bit of emotion in that voice, and I had a hunch they were yelling in my direction, so I stopped and turned around. I met a young man that day who shared that he has been struggling most of his life with mental health conditions and has been in and out of treatment programs. So cool that he yelled out to me. We shared our stories and then thanked and encouraged each other. Get out there and share your story, every time you do we take steps to defeat the stigma. We are all in this together. You never know when what may seem like little acts can make all the difference in someone’s life.

    Thanks again for the support. CLICK HERE if you’re interested in making a DONATION to support this cause.

    Week 9 – Chicago Marathon training

    9 weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, and I’ve run over 230 miles. That would put me over halfway to Chicago from Minneapolis if I were running that route! I’ve also raised $2837 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team – which is a fantastic start. If you haven’t pledged me already, please consider donating to this cause that is so important to me.

    I ran 17.5 miles this past Saturday (40 miles total for the week). It was a beautiful day and the run felt great. Those runs take a lot of energy so I finished the day with a Lion’s Tap Double California burger! So good. I keep saying that this is the year to find my 6-pack abs…maybe I shouldn’t check if Lion’s Tap will be my sponsor.

    IMG_0908

    I also did the Torchlight 5k recently. It was a great run at night along a parade route in downtown Minneapolis so tons of people were out cheering you on. I didn’t get the memo that nearly EVERYONE else would be wearing blue shirts so my bright green ‘Defeat the Stigma‘ shirt stood out even more than normal! PERFECT! Thank you blue shirts – you all helped me raise awareness!

    torch

    I watched this video “A Year After Losing A Friend” recently. I LOVED what they did with feelings of ANGER and being MAD. What if love is “every emotion all wrapped into one”? It’s ok for love to make you mad. Suicide and mental health issues are complex. It’s ok to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s far worse to hide your emotions or deny yourself the ability to feel them. Be ok with whatever mood, word, emotion hit you, and know that these will change. Sit with that. Share how you’re feeling. Find someone who will really listen. Someone very close to me took some exception to my use of the word ‘anger’ in my article for The Mighty last year (side note: I love searching for “The Mighty Dave Thompson” to find this article – ha!). I will gladly talk to anyone 1-on-1 about what I went through, but I won’t apologize for any emotions and reactions that I felt in the first few years after losing my sister. Thinking of any emotion that you have as another way to express ‘love’ really brings this home. I hope you NEVER go through anything close to the complexities and far-ranging emotions that are present with the suicide of a sibling. And I hope the funds I raise from DONATIONS while running in the Chicago Marathon on October 7th will help keep others out of this situation.

    Thank you for your support and for helping spread awareness to this important cause. WE are saving lives.

    Week 8 Chicago Marathon Update

    My first Chicago Marathon post! I finally created a spreadsheet to track my training miles for the Chicago Marathon (Oct 7, 2018) on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team. Training plans are supposed to be 18 weeks, but apparently I’m now in Week 8 of training – yikes! The good news is I only have to focus on training for 10 weeks now (but also only that much time to fund-raise for AFSP while fighting stigma and raising awareness for all those facing mental health challenges)!!! Not to worry, I’ve been running…just not with a plan.

    I looked for some pictures to prove that I’ve still been running…but most of my pictures showed me eating or sitting and watching kid’s sports. Ruh-roh! I have recent runs of 15 and 17 miles (thanks Jen for being a great running partner!), so I’m technically over halfway to a full marathon (26.2 miles), but I also love the advice that the race isn’t half over until mile 20!

    IMG_8277

    I broke out my FREE Brooks shoes that I got last year while running the 21st mile of the Twin Cities marathon faster than my average pace of the first 20 miles. That was such a great challenge for me. I love the quote in the shoebox, “These shoes are overflowing with possibilities. Show them the ropes. Pound the pavement. Tromp some trails. Wow them. Thrill them. Give them adventure. Run happy.” Amen! That’s how I want to run. Our job is to thrill our shoes and give them adventure – ha! Don’t let your shoes down!

    IMG_8096

    Some of my miles were in Rochester, Indiana a month or so ago while attending a wedding and seeing lots of family. I love all the different sidewalks and paths. I have great memories of biking with my grandpa in many of these same areas way back when as a kid. Running frees my brain. It makes me focus on the world around me. It is great therapy. Get out there – pause and notice the world (and people!) around you.

    IMG_7955

    I also did some miles in Colorado a few weeks ago. After I saw the sign below I ran the whole way screaming and waving my arms. No way did I want to be the one to accidentally feed the coyotes!

    IMG_8313

    I should be happy that I’m 4th in fundraising on the AFSP team out of 110 people. That’s a great spot to be in. I should be happy for the people ahead of me. Ok, I am. But I’ll be happier when I’m ahead of them!!! My dream from earlier this year is to finish in the Top 3 in fundraising (even that doesn’t feel right – I want to be #1!!!). Here are recent standings:

    Capture

    Let’s get me to the #1 spot and really raise some money and awareness as we support all of those facing mental health issues. I increased my goal to $6000 – I know WE can do that. Click here to DONATE. Spread the word. Help raise awareness. Help fight stigma. Help educate others. We are all in this together. Be there for those around you. WE are saving lives. Thank you!

    Change starts with me

    Owning My Thoughts May Be More Important Than My Actions

    I keep waiting for someone to post my exact thoughts and emotions from this week. Some get close but then lose me for a variety of reasons. I’ve been saying lately that we can all make a difference by how we act. But I’m realizing that it’s acknowledging and owning the thoughts behind our actions that may be more important.

    I see denial most everywhere I turn lately. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I have judgments about all sorts of people and situations. Some are great, but some I wouldn’t want to say outloud. I am guilty of that. I own that. What I continue to get better at is observing my own judgments, and exploring what is behind them. And then deciding who I want to be, and how I can take actions to make a difference.

    One Level of Giving Back

    This isn’t meant to be braggadocious, but instead is part of my reflection, and maybe it will inspire you to take action or share what you’ve been up to and what you want to do for next steps. In the past two days…

    • my youngest daughter volunteered at Feed My Starving Children (she and a few friends did enough work in under a few hours to feed eight children from Haiti for a year each);
    • my son and I cleaned out our toy closet and then took lots of stuff to Goodwill;
    • I revealed a wish to a new wish child for Make-A-Wish yesterday;
    • I signed up for the Moustache Run to help raise awareness to men’s health issues;
    • and, last night my three children and Beth went to our church to spend time with Families Moving Forward, to help families that are currently experiencing homelessness.

    But What If I Do More Outside of My Comfort Zone?

    I’m very proud of these activities, but I’m realizing all of these are relatively safe for us. These efforts may not be enough, especially now.

    Maybe if I push harder outside of my comfort zone in my giving, I can make a bigger difference…:

    • I’m proud that my church welcomes and accepts everyone – how can I get more involved with showing public support for others who may be different from me?
    • I see many posts from friends whose skin is a different shade than mine, expressing anger or fear lately – and I don’t know how to express the right emotions and give support – what if I reach out to them and sincerely ask what I can do to help, or let them know I’m here for them, maybe by simply ‘liking’ what they post on Facebook?
    • In this past week, Beth had friends who were taunted on campus, and I saw friends called vulgar names online for expressing their beliefs – how can I be better at getting more involved in the fight against hate, discrimination, and truly deplorable actions?

    Change Starts With Me

    Change starts with me. My thoughts become my actions. I ask that you take time to observe your thoughts, be honest with yourself, and reflect on who you really want to be in this world. Own it. And then go be that change and make that difference.

    IMG_8922a

    484 push-ups

    I share over 20 videos below on all sorts of suicide and mental health topics – be sure to scroll down

    Pick Me, Pick me

    There’s an Internet challenge going around to raise awareness to the 22 American Veterans who die on average each day from suicide. I felt like I was the kid on the sidelines jumping up and down, waving my arms, saying “pick me, pick me”…and then I was nominated by Kelly Hanink (we were on the Eden Prairie Fire Department together – and we both are well aware that suicide and PTSD also affect our police officers, firefighters, EMS providers, and ER staff).

    My 22 Days

    I did my push-ups from August 6th, 2016 through August 28th, 2016. I’m grateful for all of the people who joined, encouraged, or filmed me during these 22 days, and especially to Tracy McKibben (Pearson co-worker) who accepted my challenge and continued doing push-ups for 22 days to help raise awareness to this important message.

    pushups

    Educational and Inspirational Videos & Articles

    Most days, in addition to the video I posted of myself, I posted a link to new educational and inspirational videos on suicide and mental health issues. I hope some of these videos land well with anyone out there who needs to hear these messages. Here are the links and brief messages I posted on Facebook throughout my 22 push-up challenge.

    Day 2 article. A perspective on depression. Be there for all those around you. If you are struggling in any way, please let others know.

    Day 3 article. Six-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt recently shared her struggles with depression and suicide. Way to go Allison for sharing your message, fighting stigma and helping save lives. A few key messages I took away are when Michael Phelps sensed she was struggling and said, “I know you’re not yourself…I’m here for you if you need help.” The article also says they “thought it was a passing phase” and “I really underestimated the depth of what was going on”. Yep – that’s how depression works. It’s sneaky. Watch out for those around you – it can make all the difference.

    Day 4 video: Here’s one of six, short Talk With Me videos. These are put together amazingly well (by Peter Cannon), and they get my heart racing and put me through all sorts of emotions. The whole point of these videos is that people who are struggling want and need to be heard (“talk with me”). Watch out for those around you & listen – it can make all the difference.

    Day 5 article. From Amy Ferris emphasizing the importance of really connecting with others – and keeping the message simple (“i. know. how. you. feel. i have your back.”)

    Day 6 video. An article from Guideposts in their “Our Returning Troops” section. This story gives the perspective of a soldier struggling with PTSD and suicide, and how he continues to get through that every day.

    Day 7 video and Chirpstory. Echos comments I heard John Moe say during last year’s Stomp Out Suicide 5K keynote, something like “You know what depression hates? Depression hates sunlight, matching t-shirts, and balloons.” You know what else it hates – crazy push-ups and funky dancing with great friends. Thanks Kristin Danner, Wendy Cummins and Colleen Thompson for making our Sweet Corn 5K on the brick streets of Adel, Iowa so much fun today. Today is also the last day to sign up for the Stomp Out Suicide 5K (on 8/20/16) and be guaranteed a t-shirt. It’s a meaningful event filled with celebrating life. Sign up today to help make a difference and save lives!

    Day 8 video. From the Veterans Health Administration, explaining PTSD. If you like this style of video, there are several more in this series from the VHA. Several of them focus on next steps and treatment. Let someone know if you’re struggling. Watch out for those you love. We’re all in this together.

    Day 9 video. From the Directing Change contest associated with Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement.
    There are a ton of great videos in this contest – amazing what these students have created to raise awareness and fight the stigma of mental health issues!

    Day 10 video. A short but powerful video about the toughest battle the military is currently facing. Help our troops get the support they need as we raise awareness, save lives, and fight the stigma of PTSD and suicide.

    Day 11 video. Interview from this morning of Sean and Katie Haines by BOB Country FM, ahead of the Stomp Out Suicide 5k. I hope to see you there!

    Day 12 video. Short video from Major General David Blackledge. I struggled with finding messages from military leaders that seemed heartfelt and didn’t feel forced. It was refreshing to hear his message, “Hey, I’ve been through this. I’m not just telling you something that I’ve read off slides or a pamphlet. This is something I’ve experienced. It’s important to come forward if you’ve got these issues. No one should have to deal with this on their own. The help is there. This is no longer a mystery. The medical and psychological practitioners know how to get you through this and help you out.”

    Day 13 video. So this happened at work today – eight of us did somewhere around 186 total push-ups. I’m blessed to work with so many amazing people that will jump right into almost any activity as we raise awareness and support each other.

    Day 14 video. (actually came from Day 21 but I had extra videos that day). A SoulPancake video (if you’re not familiar with their work, you should check them out – they create many meaningful, uplifting videos that are good for your soul). This video is about anxiety and panic attacks. And about fighting stigma. And about steps that might work for some people..

    Day 15 video. A short but very impactful video from the This Able Veteran organization. In addition to my pushups, I shoveled crushed granite all weekend and completely built the two paths behind me – glad I still had some arm strength left :) Only a week left of my pushup challenge – hope I make it ;)

    Day 16 video. An entry in the 3MT (3-Minute Thesis) competition on the topic of how personalities may impact PTSD. The extra cool part is that I was thrilled to have Beth join me in push-ups tonight, and that just this year she also put in tons of hard work and preparation to compete in a 3-Minute Thesis competition at the University of Minnesota!

    Day 17 video. Video I created. Yep, me. My voice, my content. Maybe not my hand doing the drawing. I created this to wrap up my St. Thomas coaching certificate program earlier this year. I fully believe that taking steps every day to chase your dreams creates positive reinforcements and upward spirals that strengthen and build resilience in your mind, heart and body. “You matter. Today matters. Your dreams matter.” Believe it!

    Day 18 link. Local group in Minnesota that raises awareness to suicide prevention while fighting the stigma of mental health issues. The Steuernagel’s lost their son, Jake, just three years ago, and since then they have been very active raising money and awareness on Facebook and at events such as their 4th annual ice fishing event (Feb 4th, 2017).

    Day 19 article. Minnesota State Fair edition. I only saw one other person at the fair wearing their Stomp Out Suicide t-shirt from last week. A few years ago I met Bill Goldberg at the state fair (you know, WWE…always spearing people…ok, nevermind). So what celebrities have done the push-up challenge? Here are a few (and I love that Ludacris did this at his concert – so cool to raise awareness with a big crowd!).

    Day 20 video. Another video that got my heart beating faster up front but then ended in a much better spot. These videos can be tough to watch but just think of all the people out there suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that can relate to all these voices going on in their heads. As the video says, you got this, you will get through today, you are enough.

    Day 21 videos – video 1, video 2, and video 3. Hopefully anyone with PTSD can relate to some of the messages I’ve posted, even though they may seem to be created for different audiences. I’ve tried to find videos on PTSD in the military that are short, informative, impactful, authentic, etc. It’s tough. Many of the military-focused videos are longer and are much more intense. Here are three longer military-focused videos I’ve found that may work for some people.

    Day 22 video. My final video is a simple and heartfelt “thank you” to all those that have served our country in the military. To any of my Facebook friends who have served – thank you for your service!

    Boston Marathon – done!

    Wow! So hard to believe that I’ve already driven to and from Boston and run the marathon! Yes, I finished :)

    What a crazy, energy-pumping, goosebump-inducing, powerful, emotional, physical, reflective, cathartic experience that I will never forget. No other marathon or race will ever be the same. The people and city of Boston are absolutely incredible! And it was so great to be surrounded by family and receive so much support from so many people. THANK YOU all for thinking of us throughout this journey. This may be my last marathon-related post (and it may have a few lines copied from an email that I’ll also blast out – sorry for a bit of repetition). Thank you for putting up with my fund-raising plugs over the past four months for this cause that is so important and personal to me. Hopefully I mixed in enough fun pictures and facts to keep it more interesting than annoying :)

    The marathon is done but my mission is far from over (and will never end). My $18,000 raised covers over 2,300 support calls by the Samaritans’ team. That is 2,300 people calling or texting in a time of crisis. YOUR donations made that possible. I had the opportunity to stop by the Samaritans’ office in Boston before the marathon. Every person I met had a story to share about how their lives have been impacted by suicide. They are wonderful people doing great work every day. I’m still aiming at raising $20,000 to support this great organization. Donations will be accepted throughout May so it’s not too late to donate today.

    HERE’S THE DONATION LINK ONE LAST TIME: https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

    And now for many photos and probably way too much info about the marathon – enjoy.

    IMG_7878

    It didn’t look so far from Hopkinton to Boston in this view ;)

    IMG_2504

    Here’s my Samaritans team at Boston Common before the marathon. This was the first time that I met any of my fellow runners. Many of us have tough stories to tell and are at various stages in our healing process, but I felt an instant connection to all of them and only wish we had more time to bond…and on a day when we didn’t have so much else going on :) Such an awesome (wicked awesome!) group – I hope we all stay in touch for years to come.

    bostoncommon

    I’ve been to the infield of the Kentucky Derby many times. On first glance, Athlete’s Village looked to have a lot in common…people and trash scattered everywhere (but with less armed guards)! We arrived here after a 40-minute bus-ride from Boston. We found a spot in the shade and spent over an hour applying & re-applying sunscreen (yet, somehow I missed the back of both arms, which were a beautiful shade of bright red hours later) and looking for the shortest port-a-potty lines. Amazing how fast the time went between 7:45 a.m. (meeting for group photo) to 11:20 a.m. (my approximate start time). The sun was out and hot by this point of the day.

    IMG_4707

    Hopkinton’s claim to fame!

    IMG_4713

    Despite thousands of people in a large area, we somehow kept finding other team members…here we are just before we started our 1/2 hour walk to the start line. All smiles at this point (little did we know…).

    IMG_4716

    Chills of anticipation just before the start…

    IMG_4721

    We cut-up my marathon shirt from last year…and ended up pinning this to the back of my shirt for The Boston Marathon. This kept me going. I heard a few comments from other runners throughout the marathon, and I even had a woman start a conversation with me based on my shirt and we ended up running together for over 10 miles I think (thank you so much for keeping me going Mary!).

    IMG_7850

    Here’s my cheering section at Mile 14. I love the #ThompsonStrong tag :) Thank you Dan and Jackie for finding a way to make it to the race!

    mile14

    Mile 14…still smiling :)

    bostoncommon4

    Can you believe the crowds and # of runners at Mile 17? My parents and Beth had a hard time just crossing the road. Can you find me?

    IMG_7853

    My parents and Beth were at mile 17, along with the Samaritans team. It was a hot day, and despite my smile, I was starting to feel the heat getting to me. They gave me a frozen washcloth that was absolutely the perfect Mile 17 gift :)

    IMG_7862

    I didn’t see anyone from my Samaritans team after about mile 4 or 5, but somehow Ray and I ended up meeting after the finish line. Ray was also my school bus seatmate for our 40-minute ride from Boston to the start line. Fitting that we started and finished together! I ended up 2nd in fund-raising, and 3rd in finishing the marathon, for my team. I’ll take those stats any day :)

    IMG_7870

    Here’s all of the trash produced by just ME during the race! Ha!

    IMG_7876

    Beth and me at the finish! This was after walking around for 20 minutes (trying to cool down still)…I found my smile and a bit of energy again by this point!

    IMG_20160418_164251083_HDR

    My parent’s hotel was close to the finish and packed with runners. The energy and atmosphere in their hotel was great – loved every minute of it. SOOOOO glad we all stayed downtown – crazy cool to be there with my family. We’ve been through a lot and this marathon was good for us in many ways. After this we all headed to the Back Deck for a post-race event by the Samaritans (shockingly, WE closed the place down).

    IMG_2560

    Anyone who knows me, knows a huge part of travel for me is for the food. Here’s my lobster roll the next day (and cup of clam chowder). And, of course, malt vinegar on the fries. This is at the Atlantic Fish Company which was right in the blast of one of the bombs from the 2013 marathon. The last two turns of the marathon are beyond words to describe (“Right On Hereford, Left On Boylston”). When you make the final turn onto Boylston and can see the finish line in the distance, you can’t help but be almost overcome by the crowds cheering and energy in the air. The streets are absolutely packed with people – I can’t imagine a bomb going off in the midst of all this. Boston definitely shows its strength and resiliency for the marathon. A few days before the marathon, my brother and I walked a mile down Commonwealth Ave to get to Fenway. I was glad we made that walk so I at least knew how the last mile of the race would go (although at the time I didn’t realize Commonwealth was the road I’d be running down).

    IMG_4731

    My mom proudly wearing my medal. Her leg had a short-lived pain after the marathon so she was limping around for a bit as if she’d just finished the race :)

    IMG_4746

    And here’s my sad workout stat. I only managed to get in one workout last week ;)

    stats

    Thanks again for all of the support throughout my journey. I couldn’t have done this without all of you. WE are saving lives. As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. Thank you.

    Ok, last time, I mean it…here’s the DONATION LINK – let’s hit $20,000!!! (thanks for putting up with me and my requests): https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

    Peace in the year ahead.