Watch the whole talk here»

Almost 20 years ago, writer Andrew Solomon fell into a deep depression. In this talk from TEDxMet, he speaks eloquently and openly about his struggle with “the family secret we all share,” but that no one wants to talk about. If you are a human or know a human, you have to watch this talk, but — be warned — you might just find yourself in tears.


"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."  Andrew Solomon, TEDxMet

Another one of our favorite quotes from the TEDxMet event on Saturday, October 19. Andrew Solomon’s full talk will be online soon!
Also, the quote was handwritten by our very own Nadia Goodman, the one who edits stuff for the internet. 5th grade handwriting class FTW.

"The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."  Andrew Solomon, TEDxMet

Another one of our favorite quotes from the TEDxMet event on Saturday, October 19. Andrew Solomon’s full talk will be online soon!

Also, the quote was handwritten by our very own Nadia Goodman, the one who edits stuff for the internet. 5th grade handwriting class FTW.

TEDx Editors’ Picks: 10 great talks to fill the void left by Breaking Bad

imageHave you ever wondered who the people behind this blog are? Well, besides being extremely attractive, snazzy dressers, and, collectively, the viewers of over 10,000 TEDx Talks, we are very generous. So generous, even, that we’d like to share some of our favorite talks with you. So, without further ado, 10 of our personal favorites:

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HAILEY’S PICKS
Hailey writes stuff for the Internet. She prefers sweet potatoes.

Our shared condition - consciousness: John Searle @ TEDxCERN

John Searle is a BAMF. Can I say that? Well, I did. I love John Searle. He is the incredibly smart, sorta cantankerous grandfather I always wished I had — you know, the one who debates semantics at the dinner table? That one. At TEDxCERN, he argued that consciousness is as biological as photosynthesis, and challenged age-old ways of explaining it. I’m still not completely sure of my take on this talk, but that’s why I like it: It jump-starts further thought.

The right to understand: Sandra Fisher-Martins @ TEDxO’Porto

How many times have you read a legal document and thought, “Sorry, what?” In this talk, the witty and sharp Sandra Fisher-Martins makes the case for crafting readable documents, because it’s every person’s right to access vital information, but a privilege to have learned terms like “tempestive payment.” Her use of the heart-achingly accurate term “information apartheid” choked me up, made me angry, and reminded me why I so love Strunk & White.

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NADIA’S PICKS

Nadia edits stuff on the Internet. She’s a fan of the oxford comma.

The power of vulnerability: Brene Brown @ TEDxHouston

I’m a sucker for great psych talks. Brene Brown’s is one of my all-time favorites — it’s funny, poignant, and smart. I have a touch of her totally neurotic need to organize and explain things, so I love this reminder to embrace the messy and unknown.

Confessions of a depressed comic: Kevin Breel @ TEDxAmbleside

This next talk — inspirational psych talk #2! — is one of my favorites because Kevin so beautifully articulates his own struggle and the problems with our attitude toward mental health. It’s thought-provoking and heartbreaking and generally really wonderful.

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DAVID’S PICKS
David is the grandmaster of TEDx Talk screening. He is the owner of a sweater.

The three sides of corruption: Afra Raymond @ TEDxPortofSpain

My favorite talks are the ones that make me forget what I’m supposed to be doing (that is, assessing the talk) before making me go “heh.” Afra Raymond had that effect on me. He cares so much about what he’s talking about and understands it so deeply, but his anger feels so fresh and obliquely spun. He lives and works half a world away from me, but there’s nothing alien about the corruption he’s talking about.

Let the governed build the government: Étienne Chouard @ TEDxRepubliqueSquare

Étienne Chouard is another of my favorites. I love how shoddy the video quality is. Everything about this makes you feel like you’re in some comfortably anarchic 19th-century coffeehouse deliberating over utopian visions for a better world — at a time before utopian visions went so out of vogue. I can’t say I’m 100% behind the specific ideas in the talk, but he, at the very least, forces us to rethink once hallowed views of representation.

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HAMISH’S PICKS
Hamish is a tireless talk screener. He is easily overheated.

Your brain is more than a bag of chemicals: David Anderson @ TEDxCaltech

Caltech scientists in a lab feeding cocaine to fruit flies. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when that was happening, or when they were asking the DEA to let them handle narcotics. I love this talk because it gives a lucid explanation of a complex branch of neuroscience, and the research is leading to much more precise medical treatments for human psychiatric disorders.

•Emergency shelters made from paper: Shigeru Ban @ TEDxTokyo

Shigeru Ban designs houses built out of cardboard tubes. They’re intended as temporary disaster relief shelters, but the aesthetic beauty and functionality of his designs make them well-loved by people as far apart as New Zealand and Haiti. His quirkiness is both amusing and refreshing.

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ASIA’S PICKS

Asia screens TEDx Talks in foreign languages. She speaks many of them.

•More heroes: Brandon Spars @ TEDxSonomaCounty

This is one of the funniest talks I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a lot). It has everything: drama, suspense, travel, adventure, and a wicked twist at the end. Perhaps not a talk for the faint of heart, but well worth the effort. (WARNING: SATIRE AHEAD. TAKE ALL WORDS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT. ALSO, WE BELIEVE IN EATING BABIES.)

The dance of the dung beetle: Marcus Byrne @ TEDxWitsUniversity

This is one of the first TEDx talks I ever watched, and it set the bar really high. At TEDxWitsUniversity, Professor Marcus Byrne weaves humor, scientific research, and genuine excitement into a talk about dung beetles — dung beetles!! I learned something, and I imagine you will too.

Confessions of a depressed comic: Talking to Kevin Breel

As a teenager, Kevin Breel almost took his own life. His story — so powerfully told in his viral TEDx talk, “Confessions of a Depressed Comic” — gives voice to an often silent struggle and offers a message of hope. 

In honor of Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day, we spoke with Kevin about living with depression and speaking out. See his original talk, followed by our conversation:

As you say in your talk, people are often afraid to admit they feel depressed. What helped you come forward and speak up about living with depression? 

I got to a point where I no longer felt afraid of who I was or the fact that I deal with depression. I no longer felt ashamed or embarrassed by it. It can be really hard and exhausting to keep sharing my story onstage, but ultimately, I know that has the potential to help people. And that’s all that matters to me.

How have people reacted? 

The reaction has been the most amazing part of speaking at TEDx. When the video first went viral, I remember checking my email one time, and I had almost two thousand new emails out of nowhere. The one that stuck with me most was from one girl who sent me an email with her suicide note attached. She said she had watched my talk and she didn’t need it anymore. That was pretty powerful. And I think if you go look at the video right now, the top comment is, “This talk is the reason I put my razor down.” That’s so amazing to me. I really couldn’t ask for more.  

There’s a lovely moment in your talk when you say that hurt has forced you to have hope. When you’re in pain and hope is hard to find, how do you remind yourself that it’s still there? 

When I’m dealing with pain, I keep reminding myself that hope and help are always available for me; I just have to choose to reach for them. That’s really hard, but it keeps me accountable. I never used to have that perspective. I used to really personally identify with my pain, and I wanted to stay stuck in that place of hurt because it had become a comfortable place to stay. Now, I realize that being mentally healthy is just like being physically healthy; it takes work. You have to take preventive measures, you have to make sure you are checking in with yourself, you have to make sure you are doing the work. And it is work. But it’s worth it.  

During your darkest times, was there someone who reached out to you? Someone you remember, a moment that stayed with you and helped you find the light? 

Yeah, definitely. It was actually just a quote that I read one time. It was by Carl Jung, and it said, “Sure, a tree can grow to heaven. But only if its roots go to hell.” I remember how that made me feel a sense of peace for the first time in a long time. It made me reframe the way I looked at my pain and my struggle. For the first time ever, I thought, “Maybe this is giving me something. Maybe this is showing me some depth in life. Maybe this isn’t all bad.” And that changed everything. I’m very thankful for that quote to this day.

In the spirit of Suicide Prevention Day, what can people do to help friends or family who are suffering from depression or considering suicide? 

If you feel like a friend or a family member is struggling, think about how you can reach out to them with kindness and empathy before you think of what you should say. Letting them know that they are not alone and they are loved can truly save a life. They won’t hear your words at first; they will only feel your presence. But it all starts with someone who cares enough to ask, “Are you okay?” Please, do not be afraid to ask that question. Ask your friend. Ask a family member. Ask yourself. And be okay with whatever the answers are.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression or experiencing suicidal thoughts, please see the following resources: 

International Association for Suicide Prevention

To Write Love on Her Arms