I’m Featured in a Today Show Parents Article Re Parenting & Mental Health

Proud to be featured in a Today Parents article by Emma Davis regarding parenting & mental health. You can read the article here.

Also featured is Jennifer Marshall who blogs at Bipolar Mom Life, is the co-creator of This Is My Brave & the woman who trusted me with her organization when it came to putting on a show in New York. You can watch the extremely powerful This Is My Brave New York City in which regular people with mental illness take the stage and share their stories via personal essay, poetry, song and monologue here:

I was honored to produce it

Depression Hits Hard And Keeps On Hittting

It’s night. I lie in the darkness of my bedroom staring blankly, body trembling. Sienna opens the door. It’s time for her to go night-night but she needs to see me first. She’s 4 years old.

“You’re so brave, daddy.”

She’s so intuitive. She gives me a hug. She smells like flowers. Tears form, but somehow I stop them from falling. But I can’t stop the tremors coursing through my body and I can’t stop my facial tic. Sienna and I hug in the darkness. The air conditioner rumbles. She breaks the connection.

An “I love you” stutters from my lips.

I think about time and gloom and death as my daughter, so full of life, so smart and beautiful, wishes me sweet dreams and opens the door. I sweat despite the air conditioner. I hug a pillow to my my chest. The left side of the bed is empty. My wife needs to put Sienna down because I can’t function.

The door opens again and Sienna’s back. Her footsteps sound so small. She wants another hug and we embrace once more.

“I love you, Daddy.”

She breaks the physical connection and leaves, this time for good, though I hear her spectacular giggling over the baby monitor as my wife reads her a story. It’s “The Battle of Loki” from an Avengers book.

Hours before I was in Manhattan at a Type-A Parenting bootcamp. I was down, but I managed to talk to strangers as they gave me helpful advice for my blog. They commented on how I’m helping so many people by writing about my depression. I shrugged them off. A few other members of the NYC Dads Group were in attendance and it was good to see them. A faraway friend made the trip to the conference as well. The bootcamp was designed to last until 4 o’clock followed by an after party at 8:30. I accepted a dinner invitation from one of my new friends so I could kill the time between the bootcamp’s end and the after party’s beginning.

I sat down with one of my NYC Dads Group friends, People chattered around us as I asked him for advice about a special idea I have, one that frightens me because it’s a realistic thing, and one I don’t know how to develop. Somehow the conversation devolved into me crying and saying I didn’t want to be here anymore. I have no clue how it happened. I’m unable to trace the convoluted road from asking for advice to wishing to disappear from this world. By then 2 other friends had joined the conversation and tried to calm me down, but my depression combined with a panic attack knocked me over the edge. Ashamed and embarrassed I got up and left. I couldn’t breathe. I stumbled down escalators trying my best to suck in oxygen.

“Everyone’s watching me. I’m a failure. I’ll always be a failure. Just let me go.”

The thoughts cycled faster and faster. I couldn’t stop them. I continued down the escalators hyperventilating and not even bothering to wipe away the tears. I trembled. I mumbled to myself.

“Just let me go.”

I reached the lobby and made my way to the street. I stopped and held onto a light post trying to catch my breath. The world continued to spin. Masses of people continued walking the sidewalks of Manhattan. Were they watching me?

My fingers shook as I texted my wife that I’d had a massive panic attack and was heading home. I started walking to 34th street. She responded with “Come home! Breathe!” Times Square was alive with tourists and people dressed up as famous characters. Iron Man talked with Grover.

Somehow I made it to the train station and then home. I unlocked the door to our apartment and found a concerned wife and a happy daughter who shouted, “Daddy!!” But I couldn’t muster a smile. My wife and I locked eyes and then she hugged me.

“Shh. It’s ok. You’re home. Go to bed.”

It was around 4 pm, but the bedroom was calling. The darkness. The rumble of the air conditioner. I stayed in bed. I cried. I yearned for death. I cried some more. I posted an apology to my friends on Facebook.

“I hate this F**king disease!!!!!!!”

Exhausted, I slept.

I awoke and realized I needed to print something. I dragged myself to the living room, sat down on the floor and opened the computer.

My beautiful, innocent daughter asked if I was sad. I told her the booboo in my head was making me sad. I printed the thing and went back into hiding.

I stayed in bed the next day as well, just staring into space, negative thoughts cycling. I lost an entire summer weekend with my wife and daughter to depression.

I’d felt the blackness creeping in for the past few weeks so having a meltdown is no surprise. It’s been 4 days since the conference and I’m still shaky. I’m not sure what’s triggering this latest battle. I just know it runs deep. I refused to go to therapy the week before. I’m on a new medication, but I don’t think it’s working. I’m battling the same thoughts I’ve fought for years but it’s like fighting a Game of Thrones army with a toothpick. I consistently lose.

Depression makes you want to rip off your head or stick a gun to it. Sometimes it takes every bit of energy just to get out of bed. It’s a very real and very painful disease of the mind and there’s no real cure. Depressives live in the past. Our feelings – the same ones we had as a child or teenager or young adult – consume us before logic can intervene. Depressives go to therapy to learn tools that will help us manage our disease, learn to focus on the positive and future. But it’s so damn hard and it’s so damn draining.

I’m a little better today, but as I said, I’m still shaky. I barely slept last night. Friends responded to my Facebook post about my major panic attack with reminders that I’m strong and I’m not alone.

And that’s what I need to cling to right now.

I’m not alone.

Am I A Freak Because I Don’t Use Pet Names?

terms of endearment

From https://67.media.tumblr.com/


What does it say about me that I’m unable to call my beautiful wife or daughter by a pet name? Pet names make me feel uncomfortable, false and unnatural, like I’m overly decorating my real affection with glitter and pom-poms. Whenever I consciously refer to my wife or daughter as “Honey” or “Sweetie” it’s like a red alert goes off in my brain – “FRAUD! FRAUD! FRAUD!” And that shouldn’t be the case.

My wife sometimes calls me her “Boo” which I’ve never understood, but she calls other people her “Boo” as well. I don’t think she has a special moniker for me or Sienna. She very easily switches between colloquialisms.

Is it a societal thing? Am I rebelling against a world in which pet names are ingrained thanks to television and film and Hallmark cards? Does not assigning pet names to those most precious to me mean I don’t adore them enough? No…although society does stress pet names a bit, I also feel that they’re fairly natural terms of endearment. Sometimes they derive from an inside joke or story. Other times they’re used to make people, particularly children, feel comfortable, safe and beloved.

I think my inner self recoils at pet names because I don’t think I deserve one myself – my self-loathing remains colossal. I don’t recall my parents assigning me a special sobriquet. My mom called me “Lorneeee” until I begged her to stop. I don’t remember my dad calling me anything other than my given name. Then again, there’s a very distinct possibility that I was so caught up in self-hatred that I couldn’t hear my mom calling me “Honey” or my dad calling me “Buddy.” It’s quite possible I just don’t remember. As I’ve said before depression is a narcissistic disease. You often only hear what you want to hear. I’ve written about how much I despise my name because no one seems to be able to get it right; how just about everyone thinks I’m female; how it rhymes with so many words that led to incessant teasing when I was younger. I think the fears and hatred I developed about hearing my own name spoken spread like a virus to all names. I tend not to call anyone by their names, especially if they were once in an authoritative position. For example, I’m unable to call my best friends’ parents’ by their first names even though my best friends have zero problems calling my parents Lynne and Howie.

So if I have so much trouble calling my wife by her first name, it makes sense that I’d be unable to come up with a suitable pet name for her with which I’m comfortable. But why am I unable to do so with my daughter? I don’t have any trouble calling her by her given name. None. But I feel myself trying when it comes to something like “Sweetie” and thus, I stumble. I merge “Sweetie” with “Sienna” so it sounds like “Swienna” which leads to funny looks from my daughter. It’s like a catch myself before giving Sienna a nickname or pet name. Maybe I’m terrified that one day she’ll reject it and/or cringe inside like I did when my mom called me “Lorneeee,” but it’s more likely that my depression, that I refuse to allow myself to be free of rigidity and stubbornness and self-aversion.

If I’m to grow, I need to get over my current inability to speak a person’s name aloud; it’s ridiculous that I’m 42 and I can’t call my someone I’ve known for 35 of those years by their first name. I found an interesting post by Elizabeth Landau on “Scientific American” about pet names in romantic relationships in which she admits there is not enough literature out there, but the majority points to an increase in intimacy amongst romantic partners (she also writes that pet names aren’t for everyone). But I found nothing scientific about pet names and children. Regardless and more importantly, I feel like I need to at least use general pet names for Sienna to help her feel more comfortable in the world and with herself, to give her inner strength and peace so that she goes to bed aglow with love. Or maybe she doesn’t need a pet name to feel good about herself. It could be that pet names and terms of endearment have zero effect on the psyche. I really don’t know. All I know is that my inability to use them gives me another opportunity to beat myself up and that is simply unacceptable.

5 Things I’d Miss If I Committed Suicide

The other day I had to pull over to the side of the road because of a cloud formation. It was one of those days when it’s sunny, but filled with fluffy, almost tangible clouds. Cotton candy clouds. The type of soft white pillowy things that you can imagine angels use as seats on which to play their harps…if you believe in angels. I sat in my car, the air conditioner on full blast, the Google Maps woman telling me to continue straight for 3/4 of a mile, and stared at the clouds. And I realized I’d miss them if I were gone. Well, technically I’d be dead so I wouldn’t even think about them, but often when one imagines death and suicide – before the psychological break that leaves them completely hopeless – one thinks of reasons to stay alive be it loved ones, pets, whatever. So since I think about suicide often and I’ve been having an extremely hard time of late, I wanted to write about some things about life that I love. I’ve already promised I’d never go through with it, but it’s admittedly getting harder. I need to see my psychiatrist and tweak my meds or find some other way to stop my mind’s negative cycling. To prevent this from becoming a list about family and friends, I’m going to leave them out. Even Sienna. So here are 5 things I’d miss if I committed suicide:

1) The sky – I can’t say that I’m amazed by the sky every day, but there are times when its beauty leaves me flabbergasted. Puffy clouds that look like objects. Pink, orange, red, blue sunsets that might as well be matte paintings. A red sun. True sky blue. The full moon so close that you want to reach up, touch its dusty craters and put it in your pocket. The enormous blanket of stars that appears away from city lights. The lucky glimpse of a falling star that gives you butterflies. The zigzag of a lightning bolt. Angelic sunbeams. Rainbows. It’s all so beautiful that it can make me stop in my tracks. My brain keeps going, of course. My mind never stops trying to tear me down, but sometimes, sometimes I can fixate on the sky and recognize its majesty.


Floridian Clouds – Photo by Lorne Jaffe

2) A cat’s purr – There is something about purring that I find soothing, like a vibrating pillow or a white noise machine. When I’m feeling extremely low, my cat’s purr can bring me out of it. He sits on my addled chest and purrs and I let the vibration resonate through my body until the chest tightness goes away. Or I use him like a pillow, his fur warm against my face, his purr echoing through my head. And my thoughts dissipate. There is nothing like the soft, unconditional purr of a cat.

3) Animals – I love animals. Almost all animals. Especially in the wild. In Australia I watched as parrots and cockatoos flew above my head and settled on telephone wires. The beauty of such creatures floors me. During a trip to Zion National Park in Utah, my wife and I decided to take a midnight stroll on an easy path. We wore flashlights on our heads and listened to deer crash through branches right next to us. And then we hit the jackpot…or I did. I just happened to bend my head at the perfect moment and captured a tarantula that had just paralyzed a beetle in my flashlight’s beam. I stared at the creature, so excited that I might as well have been bitten and incapacitated myself. How often do you see a tarantula in the wild? In Alaska I was on a boat surrounded by a pod of killer whales including babies. Puffins flew above us hoping we’d throw some fish in the air. And then there’s the ocean – the coral reefs filled with gorgeous fish – great white sharks that leap out of the water showing 2 rows of Ginsu-sharp teeth – and the octopus, my favorite animal of all. This creature can squeeze itself into a jelly jar. It camouflages itself so brilliantly that you cannot distinguish it from the sand upon which it sits. I wanted to be a marine biologist growing up, but it never happened. I did, however, have an underwater theme for Bar Mitzvah. And if I could afford it, I’d have a huge salt water tank filled with the most unique and beautiful fish possible. Animals. I’d miss the joy of seeing them live, especially in the wild.

4) Chocolate – Chocolate is going to destroy me, particularly dark chocolate. If I’d won a golden ticket from Willy Wonka, I probably would have gone the Augustus Gloop route; I would have dove into that chocolate river letting the sweetness soak into my skin. Chocolate is by far one of my favorite things – chocolate mints, chocolate with peanut butter, chocolate with caramel or raspberry filling. My mouth is watering. Chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. Chocolate chips themselves. Essentially, this is me when it comes to chocolate

5) Travel – I love to travel. Just love it. The rush when the airplane takes off, knowing that all kinds of adventures await you. Paragliding in Alaska. White water rafting through the Swiss Alps. Watching the street performers on the Charles Bridge in Prague. Horseback riding in Bryce Canyon. Tubing down the Delaware River. Climbing the Harbor Bridge in Sydney. Experiencing history by standing on the same spots where legends like Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, etc., once stood. Learning new cultures and languages. Making friends all over the world. We don’t travel much anymore because we have Sienna, but that doesn’t mean we won’t ever travel again. It’ll get easier for us as she gets older and maybe by the time she’s a teenager, I’ll be able to go on my dream African safari. There are so many incredible places to visit and suicide would obviously kill any chance I have of experiencing the wonders of Niagara Falls; the Acropolis; giant redwood forests; the Great Barrier Reef; Victoria Falls; the supposed absurdity of Tokyo; and even the colorful autumn beauty of upstate New York.

I really needed to write about these things today. I had a rough weekend. I was sick as a dog and confined to my bedroom. My wife slept on the couch. I barely saw my family. And as usual I’d go on Facebook and compare myself to everyone else thus triggering the negative cycling. I thought about downing Xanax. I thought about jumping out the window. I imagined my head hitting the pavement and cracking open like a smashed pumpkin. I imagined going to sleep forever. I also had a severe panic attack at my therapist’s office and between heaving breaths I’d say, “I want out! I want out!”

There are so many reasons not to get out. So many reasons beyond my wife and daughter and family and friends. The glory of the sky might be enough. Or the potential to travel to China. Or maybe one day encountering a porcupine in the wild. Or attending a chocolate festival and tasting the greatest confection ever made. Or just listening to my cat purr in contentment. And that’s just 5 things. Just 5 reasons to stay in this often frightening, but still promising world. I only have one life. So when the suicidal ideation hits me hard, I need to remember to concentrate on reasons to stay. I got through the weekend. Now I’m going outside to look at some clouds.

To My Daughter – You Make Me Fight Harder


“Spring Smiles” – taken by Lorne Jaffe


When your child enters the world, she changes your life in intimate and infinite ways. At first you’re more tired than you’ve ever been. You become used to screams – of hunger? thirst? discomfort? exhaustion? screaming for the sake of screaming? – searing their ways through the walls and over a staticky baby monitor. You become an expert diaper changer, something you never saw yourself doing. You don’t even mind when pee and/or poop gets on your hands or shirt or face (ok, you do mind, but you’re too sleepy to get upset). You realize you should have saved your college tuition for the zillions of Pampers you’re going to buy. You discover you can sing “We Are The World” for 3 hours straight while rocking your baby in a chair. Come on…that’s got to be a world record! But those are the minuscule things, not the unreal life-altering things to come.


You begin to relive childhood through your baby’s eyes. You remember how exciting a stick can be. You gaze with wonder at the moon as she points to it. You do anything to see her smile, hear her laugh. You share your childhood loves with her and sit on the floor playing princesses and Star Wars. You read her books once read to you. You become more tolerant. You become more patient. You now have empathy for those parents on airplanes whose children won’t stop crying. You feel a pride you’ve never felt when she runs to a friend who’s fallen and asks if he’s ok. You are a parent and your life has switched in an almost metaphysical way for you’re now a teacher to a little one that needs help understanding time and causality.

I’ve experienced all of those life changes since your birth, but the most significant has to do with my depression, a disease I’ve had since childhood. When you have depression, it’s insanely difficult to see outside the bleak clouds of your own negative thoughts especially when you’re experiencing a trigger or an episode. Before you were born I too often gave up without a fight, but now I need to be more aware of the vibes I’m giving off, my facial expressions, my body language, my mood and my disease than ever before because I can’t let it affect you. I can’t let it hurt you. So I fight those negative thoughts every second of every day and sometimes I lose, but more often than before I win. Sometimes I can feel the anxiety and heaviness coming on, take one look at you and your smile, and battle my way through. I make the concerted effort to sit with you on the floor of our apartment and watch you draw and imagine. I pretend to be a beast or a shark and chase you around while you squeal in delight. Sometimes in the park I’m hurting so I break out the bubbles and watch you chase them, mouth wide open in excitement.

Bubble Face

“Bubble Face” – taken by Lorne Jaffe

And sometimes you see it my eyes – the turmoil…the fear – and you come over and give me a hug and a kiss, tell me it’s going to be ok and I’m filled with such love and pride that that clichéd single tear slides down my cheek, my lips spread into a huge grin and I squeeze you tight and tickle you until you’re laughing so hard you feel your sides will burst. Before I would have been gone for hours, days mentally (and sometimes I still am), but I’m fighting harder than Muhammed Ali so I’m always there for you, so that you feel loved and safe.

I fought hard when I met your mom and throughout our marriage (as has she for she has the same disease), but not as hard as I do for you. It hurts to admit that in a way because I guess it’s admitting that I’ve relied on your mom for emotional support too much. I can’t rely on you for that. That’s not my job as your father. My job is to provide YOU with emotional support, to teach you and give you the tools to navigate this world while remaining a good, giving, loving, wise, beautiful, strong person. And so I fight the non-stop tornadoes and tidal waves of depression harder than I ever thought possible. That is how you changed my life in the most powerful and meaningful way and I vow to you that I won’t stop fighting.

Lorne Jaffe - Sienna and daddy

Sienna and Daddy – taken by Lorne Jaffe

So on this Father’s Day, I and many other dads are teaming up with Pampers. Pampers is honoring men whose lives changed upon the arrival of their child via a social media campaign called #ThanksBaby. In other words, Pampers is honoring dads like myself. So if you’re a dad, please tweet to #ThanksBaby and tell us how your life has changed since you’ve had your kid(s).

Thank you, Sienna. Thank you for making me fight so hard.

Love always,


Lorne Jaffe - Welcome Home

Welcome Home – taken by Elaine Borja-Jaffe

For more on this campaign, please watch this video:

And for more information about Pampers, please check out the following social media links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pampers

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/pampers

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Pampers/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pampersus/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Pampers

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad  and Pampers for this promotion.