My garage is a silent testament to my somewhat-controlled Type-A personality. A graphite tennis racquet that collects dust in the corner, a set of titanium golf clubs that never quite equaled the distance of a Jack Nicklaus drive, and an electric guitar that never was as easy to master as a plastic Guitar Hero axe.
You see, whenever I take up a new hobby, I usually tend to go all out. When I got into tennis, I wasn’t content with an occasional game. No, I took lessons, treated myself to a too-nice racquet, and joined a men’s league. Then I burned myself out. Ditto on those golf clubs and the electric guitar.
But I don’t think I’m alone here.
We all have hobbies that can morph into obsessions. I know my wife and I couldn’t get enough of Tetris when it came out. I know many friends who, thanks to their fancy DVRs, are not content in their viewing habits until they’ve seen every episode of their favorite TV show. And I know my neighbors are pursuing their obsessions as well because I see the evidence—large boxes filled with Styrofoam peanuts—out by the curb on trash day.
Most of us use these outlets as escapes from the doldrums of everyday life. And we’re fortunate that our obsessions are harmless. However, for a handful of our friends, relatives, and neighbors, the escapes are much more self-destructive.
In the four years we’ve been doing Ocala Style Health, we’ve never once put the spotlight on mental health issues. Sure, we’ve covered the biggies—cancer, pediatrics, nutrition—but never the most overlooked one.
When I mentioned this to Laurie Zink, development director for The Centers, our woefully underfunded local treatment facility, she immedi-ately gave me the reply I needed. “You know,” she said in that unmistakable voice, “we have some great success stories we could share.”
The rest was pretty easy.
Assign one of our best writers to sift through all the anecdotes to highlight the most powerful pair, and send our most talented photographer out to get some compelling photos to bring these stories to life. Well, JoAnn Guidry and John Jernigan, respectively, did just that. Their thoughtful feature appears in the pages to come.
I also added my touch. I wasn’t crazy about the supplied headline choices. They were too cute, too generic, or too newspapery. It needed something simpler, something as powerful as the text and the photos. Then I thought of one word: overcome. I liked the double meaning. I liked its simplicity.
Of course, like any magazine feature, you get to decide whether it’s exceptional or ordinary. My hope is that everyone who worked really hard on this one will have steered you to the first choice, especially when you get to the ultimate outcomes.
But not all stories have happy endings. In real life, many people don’t overcome their circumstances; they’re overcome by them.
So what can we do about it? By ourselves, probably not much. But together, we shall overcome.
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All my best,