Depression and Desire: A Discussion Guide

By To Write Love on Her ArmsFebruary 11, 2014

Desire was the theme for TEDx Malibu. Our founder Jamie Tworkowski was invited to speak, and he used the opportunity to tie in the realities of depression, the desire for recovery, and finding the courage to dream again. 

But the talk also presents a challenge: What would it look like to ask better questions? What if our conversations moved beyond “How are you?” to “What makes you feel alive?” How would our lives change if people were encouraged to be honest about their fears and struggles, and their dreams as well?
Below are some discussion questions TWLOHA has put together to follow up Jamie’s talk. We hope you’ll watch the video and then work through these—on your own, with your roommates, during a UChapter meeting, at your work retreat, in your living room. More than anything, we hope you are inspired to be honest and to invite honesty into your relationships. 
1. “We’re afraid of being judged, we’re afraid of being misunderstood, we’re afraid of being labeled.” 
– What keeps you from speaking up about the hard or vulnerable parts of your life?
2. “I would imagine that your story is one that includes desire, and I would imagine it includes depression. And maybe if you don’t relate to that word, I could imagine that something you relate to is pain, or feeling stuck, or bumping into some really big questions in this life.”
– Think of your experiences that have been impacted by pain, disappointment, or depression. How do you interact with those tough places in your life?
– What are your greatest desires and dreams? How are you moving toward or away from them? What do you need to get started or make progress?
3. “My hope is that you feel like there are some people you can be honest with.”
– Think of the people in your life right now. Who are you really honest and vulnerable with? What is it about those individuals that makes you feel like you can confide in them?
– How many people seem to be honest and open with you? Do you think you express interest or encourage trust and vulnerability in your relationships?
4. In the talk, Jamie discusses how we’re used to asking or being asked, “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” But we don’t often hear or ask, “What is your dream?” “What do you want?” “What makes you feel alive?”
– Make a list of better “ice-breaker” questions to ask strangers or acquaintances, even if only in passing. Commit to incorporating at least one of these into your conversations this week.
5. “What would it look like to have a few people, to have a support system, where you can talk about those kinds of things? You can say to your friend or they can ask you, ‘Hey, what is your dream, and how are you doing with that dream? What do you want? What makes you feel alive?'”
– Do you know what your family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or roommates want most out of life? How often do you check in with them about significant things? How can you help them achieve their desires and dreams?
6. “You deserve love when it’s tough, when it’s awkward. What does it look like to love someone who lives in a place we’ve never been?”
– Spend some time thinking about this last question: “What does it look like to love someone who lives in a place we’ve never been?” Have you ever had to do this? Has someone done this for you? What do you think is most important about connecting with people who are struggling?

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Comments (2)

  1. Lea

    TWLOHA should make a journal similar to the discussion guide…I’ve been answering a question by myself every night when I need to get the day out. It helps.

    Reply  |  
  2. gothicchristian

    I have had some interesting discussions on the “how are you?” question. To most Americans, you are expected to say, “Fine.” To many black Americans, it’s not even a question to answer with a lie; “how you doin'” is a greeting you’re expected to return.

    I have known some Eastern Europeans who are very bothered by this. And in countries like Tanzania, “how are you” means, “Tell me your deepest feelings.” It is not a “quick” question.

    This conveys to me that the first thing we need to do for others is MAKE TIME. Actually stop, look them in the eye, and ask, “How have you been lately?” or “What has God been doing in your life?” Make it clear that you really care about the honest answer.


    1. Honestly, what most keeps me from sharing my struggles is my introspective, reclusive personality — and my pride. It really isn’t on others. I could be honest with them whether they wanted an honest answer or not. But I like being the one who is helping, not the one who is helped.

    2. The biggest struggle I’ve had with fear is in trying to get my book published. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s difficult to contact so many literary agents and get no response (more difficult than the few who explain they aren’t interested). This makes it difficult to try to get published at all. If someone could KEEP ME ACCOUNTABLE on these things, that would be great.

    3. I love that many people feel they can be honest and open with me. I don’t believe I create many opportunities to be vulnerable with others. Often I’m even trying to be strong for my husband, and that should change.

    4. How have you been feeling lately? What has God been doing in your life? Have you read anything interesting lately? How are things going with [problem]?

    5. I feel that there are perhaps a dozen people I keep in touch with and try to encourage, but I need to be more in touch with my family. The only way I know how to encourage them is to talk with them and listen to them.

    6. I am trying to learn not to paint a silver lining on people’s clouds; let them grieve, let them be sad. While I prefer to look at things positively as soon as possible, not everyone can or wants to. I should listen more and talk less.

    Reply  |  
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