This is my friend Jim. We attended the same high school, were both “band geeks” (Jim played trombone, and I played the trumpet and French horn), briefly worked at the same pizza shop, and had lots of friends and activities in common.
Jim’s brother, Kevin, was also a close friend. Kevin was a couple years younger than I and sat next to me in band. We had lots of laughs. Kevin and I both struggled with our weight and would often tease each other or joke about whose marching band pants were going to rip first.
Kevin passed away unexpectedly in 2016, and Jim entered a period of intense struggle with grief. Battling depression, he sought help and eventually began his own blog, “Jim Ladiski Writes.” For nearly as long as I’ve been writing, I’ve said writing is cathartic. Modern psychology backs this up. Expressing ourselves in words can be very healing.
When Jim launched his blog, I was immediately drawn to it. Although our contact had been very sporadic in the years since high school, I knew Jim to be one of the happiest and most positive people I’ve ever known. Reading about his struggles with depression made me realize once again that depression is commonly hidden. My own struggles with it often go unnoticed because people see me as happy and positive and rarely see me in my darkest moments.
While Jim hasn’t struggled with weight, he’s struggled with depression and grief, and has emerged as a positive voice for the importance of finding hope and healing. Jim’s also a hero in other ways. He’s a dad and an advocate for Compassion International, an organization that connects sponsors with children across the world to help lift them out of poverty. I could list many more ways Jim is a hero, but one that deserves a definite shoutout is his role as a firefighter and paramedic for the city of East Lansing. All of these heroic roles have likely resulted in countless lives being saved.
Congratulations, Jim! You are January’s Hope for the Heavy Hero!
Click here to read or subscribe to Jim’s blog, “Jim Ladiski Writes.”