What is your life’s purpose?
Sorry I have to cheat: 2 purposes.
1. To use my writing to destigmatize mental health and raise awareness for my son’s condition.
2. To raise my children to have a happier existence than I did.
How are you living your purpose?
This is where my two purposes are related. I think it’s difficult to find happiness if you don’t find something that you love to do. So I’m hopefully setting an example for my kids to follow by pursuing my passion of writing—albeit later in life than I should have.
At the same time, my wife and I are raising Liz (6) and Matt (4) in a way that will be conducive to them finding a passion and pursuing it. We’re trying not to spoil them, so that they’re hungry to achieve things in life (we’re doing a mediocre job at this so far). And we’re involving them in a lot of different types of activities—sports, music, art, etc.—(regardless of gender) to give them the best chance to find something that they love to do.
How did you find your purpose?
I always had a passion for writing. But my writing wasn’t great. I’m not J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin. I don’t have the mind to create fictional worlds. (Maybe I should have changed my name to B.M. Grayson.) So that left me with writing about my life. Except I hadn’t really lived enough to have a voice that needed to be heard. When I began to experience some hardships (mental health, pregnancy complications for my wife and birth complications with our son), while they sucked to go through, they gave me a perspective on life and I began to have a story to tell.
As far as my purpose as a parent, it didn’t hit me right away. While I was emotional at the moment of Liz’s birth, the days after were a whirlwind. Plus, I was nervous as we needed to figure out how to care for this tiny human. Once we settled in back home, I started giving her a bottle every night. Those moments at 3 A.M. when it’s just you and your baby staring at one another as you try to get her to consume four ounces of breastmilk were an awakening for me. I began to realize that there’s this person with a blank slate who I am responsible for, for eighteen years. There is so much I have learned about myself in therapy and just from life experience that I want to apply to parenting her and my son, to give them the best chance to succeed
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
It would be naive of me to say that everyone has something that they love to do. I know a lot of people who don’t and just go through the days and weeks of work life without much changing. But even if you don’t have a passion that you can do every day like writing, there are things in all our lives that have importance. Like parenthood for most of us. Additionally, many of us have been touched by illness either personally or with a family member. (Our 30’s and 40s are our times to be strongest and occur simultaneously with our parents’ generation beginning to need our help as they age and our kids are growing up.) A purpose can be found in how you help and affect others, whether that be through writing about it, raising money for a cause, or just being present for people who need you.
For me, it’s all interconnected, actually. The privacy I have sacrificed by sharing the intimate details of my story I can rationalize because I am using the platform—my book, my blogs—to raise money and awareness for the very issues that affect me: our son’s condition (CLOVES Syndrome) and mental health.
What resources do you recommend?
A therapist! Whether you struggle with depression or are one of the lucky ones who have dodged it, a therapist is a resource we should all use. Everyone goes for yearly check-ups with an internist. I’m not sure why the same isn’t required of our brains. It’s just hard to figure out one’s purpose without input from an objective voice.
Therapists come in all shapes and sizes though. Some are looking at the clock. Others want to get to the root of things with your childhood. I never found that very productive. I see a therapist who has worked with me to find what makes me happy each day. Slowly but surely, I worked my way back to writing through therapy. Coincidentally, my therapist, Alan Gettis, is also an author.
Transcendental meditation has also helped me find some clarity in areas of my life, though I might be the worst transcendental meditator ever. My mind just runs in overdrive the entire twenty minutes I sit there.
Connect with Brett Grayson
Book: What Could Go Wrong?: My Mostly Comedic Journey Through Marriage, Parenting and Depression
Brett Grayson is the author of What Could Go Wrong?: My Mostly Comedic Journey Through Marriage, Parenting and Depression. His writing has appeared on Scary Mommy and The Good Men Project. A successful trial attorney with offices throughout the five boroughs of NYC and New Jersey, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.