Philosopher, artist, biophysicist – Seth Levin is none of these. But he is a loving husband to his high-school sweetheart, Melanie, a caring father to Elliana, his 21-month-old daughter, and best friend to his dog, Buddy. He lives in Washington, D.C., near his parents. the greatest role models in the world. He’s a vice president at the communications firm Weber Shandwick, where he gets to do cool stuff for clients and causes.
When my friend Bob invited me to write a letter to you with a few New Year’s resolutions, I jumped at the chance. But then I started to worry.
What would I write?
Should it be serious or silly or both?
Will your mom like it?
Will you like it? (After all, you’re very smart and will probably be ready to read this by the age of two.)
You’re probably asking yourself, “Dad, why was this so hard? It’s just a letter. I’ll love it no matter what you say” (you are so sweet).
Well, it has to do with something pretty serious: my depression. Since age 17, I’ve suffered from clinical depression and seasonal affective disorder. Over the years, it has shaken my confidence, and made me feel that my personal opinions and thoughts are of little value.
But when you were born, I thought, I’ll never be depressed again; my daughter is pure joy. On the latter, I turned out to be right. The former is a different story. 2010 ended poorly, and 2011 started off no better. It was hard to believe, but I found myself unable to appreciate your smiles and cuddles, or to enjoy watching you intently study something new.
I never want this to happen again. So in 2012, I resolve the following: to ask you certain questions.
Me: If I start to feel depressed in 2012, should I hide it or talk openly with those closest to me?
You: Talk – with Mommy, Poppa (grandpa), Booj (grandma), Buddy (the dog), Lillis (Elliana, she’s two), aunt eah (Leah).
Me: You’re right, I should talk to my family. They love me and have helped in the past. However, if I talked to the dog, people might think I have a different psychiatric disorder.
Me: Should I get up earlier on weekends and walk with you to the playground?
You: Anna, outside! Anna, jacket! Anna, walk!
Me: Good idea. Start the day with sunshine and fresh air but no stroller.
Me: How about music class and the aquarium?
You: Fishy, Daufin (Dolphin). B-I-N-E-O, B-I-N-E-O.
Me: OK, let’s go to the aquarium and sing “Bingo”the whole way.
Me: Do I need to eat healthier and exercise?
You: Beans, carrot, nomato (tomato), eggy, chicken.
Me: Thanks for sharing a list of your favorite foods; I’ll go running too.
Well, I better get started; this is a long list. Meantime, I’m going to pursue another of my resolutions right now. Get ready, my Elliana. I promise to squeeze your cheeks more.
Wishing you Happy New Year, with unconditional love forever,
P.S. – Long-term resolution: Depression runs in our family, and I pray you never get it. But if you do ever feel confused, sad or anxious without knowing why, I am there for you. We’ll get through it together.