Love Takes Action podcast episode three transcript. 

Episode 3 Transcript

[00:03] ELLEN:  Our lives are defined by key moments, sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected. This podcast explores the stories of extraordinary moments in our everyday lives -- the joys and celebrations as well as the challenges and surprises. These stories provide opportunities to share ideas and takeaways to learn from, to witness moments where love becomes a living, breathing action that showcases strength, resilience, beauty and humanity.

[00:40] ELLEN:  I am your host, Ellen Adair, and welcome to

Love Takes Action, brought to you by New York Life, helping people act on their love and successfully navigate life’s biggest choices since 1845.

[00:59] ELLEN:   On today’s episode, we’re discussing our mental health -specifically in relation to our technological world. We’ll be spending time with a bipolar, software engineer

[01:09] MATT:  … So, for me it was this constant state of I’m in overload or I’m in some sort of a deprivation.  

Food on my father’s side was a love language…

…it is a reflection of all of the love that was given to me.

[01:23] ELLEN:  And we’ll be speaking with an author and professor who’s researching how our health is impacted by our technological environment.

[01:31] VANESSA:  Coming back to social media, there’s no space to think. It’s clicks. It’s likes. It’s subscribes. It’s you’re not really thinking …

He’s proof that you can prosper in the eye of the storm.

[01:43] ELLEN:  Let’s begin with Matt Fesler, who lives every day with a bipolar spectrum disorder. It can cause extreme mood swings, and in spite of this condition he has carved a stable, successful career.

Matt, welcome, and thank you for joining us.  To begin, when did you become aware that your brain works differently than most other people?

[02:05] MATT:  One of the blessings or curses, however you look at it, of this particular --- I don’t know, we’ll call it condition, is that you’re incredibly sensitive.

I would say I probably knew as early as grade school that there was something different. I couldn't quite connect with other children and I had trouble in class. I had trouble focusing. I had trouble coming up with answers. Had trouble interacting on the playground, for that matter. 

So, I always felt a little distant from the other kids in school.

[02:33] ELLEN:  Wow, that’s really young to feel that alone.

[02:36] MATT:  When you start that early, and you feel like there’s that divide and specifically at the time that I was growing up, my formative years, there wasn't a whole lot of understanding. 

So, you talk to people, you got confusion, uncertainty, you got things like, “Oh, it's just in your head,” which of course is ironic and hilarious now.

[02:53] ELLEN:  Laugh with Matt) (*under Matt)

[02:54] MATT:  But, It’s just one of those things where you learn not to share.  You learn not to share with other people. 

There were a few episodes where I was with people of a like persuasion, even you know, in adolescence, my teenage years, and still I felt like I was on an island, uh separate from everybody else.

[03:14] ELLEN:  Matt, was there any support system around you?

[03:19] MATT:  I recognized the degree of support that I was getting much after I was actually getting it. My parents, while they certainly didn't understand, they were always loving, always caring, always supportive. 

They're like, ‘We don't know what you're going through, but we love you. We're not giving up. We got your back.’ And that included things like therapy.  Included things like you know, visiting the psychiatrist, visiting the psychologist. 

When I was 13 years old, I spent some time in an adolescent psychiatric ward. Before my troublemaking years, which I think once again, is something I have in common with a lot of people who go through this type of thing, the troublemaking years. 

Before that, my parents admitted me to a local psychiatric hospital just to say,

“Hey, we don't know what's going on. Can you help?” And I was uh, then diagnosed, of course, with uh, I can't remember what it was initially. It wasn't bipolar. I want to say it was borderline or some sort of manic personality, because I've always been more on the manic side. Depressive. It's deep, but it's not as often. 

But, eventually, we got to bipolar.

[04:21] ELLEN:  Hmmm… Before it was diagnosed, before it was named how did you process the stimuli around you internally?

[04:30] MATT:  The way I translated it internally was how I received it externally. Things are too dim. Things are too slow. Things are too loud. Things are too bright. 

Depending on where I was in any given cycle, that's how it seemed to me. Either people were going too slow, or they were going too fast. They weren't providing enough or they're providing too much. 

So, for me it was this constant state of I’m in overload or I’m in some sort of deprivation.

[04:58: ] ELLEN:  How was it for you socially, were you able to make friends when you were young?

[05:02] MATT:   I never made friends easily. I always supposed it had to do with that gap that I've been trying to bridge since early times. And what friends I had, of course, there wasn't a whole lot of knowledge from me on why I was acting a certain way, a certain time. So, I tended not to keep them. You know, they're like, ‘Either this guy is boring or, ‘oh, god, this guy is too much. I can't handle this.’ 

Because this was the 80’s and it had a name, but it did not have any widespread understanding or acceptance. There were no commercials, you know, for this type of depressive condition. There weren't pamphlets in the doctor's office. It was still one of those great unknowns that more people feared than understood.

[05:44] ELLEN:  What about your family? What were things like for you at home?

[05:49] MATT:  I’m the oldest of nine and there was a lot of pressure on me to set examples, set precedent, lead the way. That’s just how it works in a family like that. Take care of the younger siblings. Always stick up for them. And I would say that that was probably my saving grace. 

When I started getting a real temper around puberty, I think feeling that sense of responsibility helped me to not lash out. My closest brother, he was born about a year and a half after me. You know, we did the usual brotherly things like punch each other to see who gave first and stuff like that. Throw rocks. All these things, but he probably was in the most danger from me simply because sometimes those types of things escalate. If you got a brother, you know what I'm talking about. 

My temper was something to behold – from a great distance, because uh, I was just a bomb waiting to go off all the time. A lot of people now just refuse to believe that I was ever that way.  (chuckles) 

But, I was, It was actually a common pastime for some of the kids at school to make me mad and see what happened, you know? Kind of like that dare where you hop the fence to get in the field with the bull, that's what I always kind of equated it to. I didn't realize that until much later in retrospect, but it was kind of a cool, double dog dare you sort of game to make Matt mad and see if you could survive the encounter without any marks. And I mean, we're talking physical violence. I'm not proud of it. And uh, if I have regrets in my life, a lot of them revolve around that time. 

But I was a very violent person. I tended to come out swinging. I mean, the one thing I could say that makes me not feel terrible about it is the thing that was most likely to set me off was injustice. I think it was that upbringing of being asked to look out for my siblings. 

The maddest I got and the most trouble I ever got in was when I saw somebody else being treated unfairly or somebody picking on somebody else. Not saying I'm a superhero or anything, because fisticuffs is not the way to solve problems like that, but aw, that always made me mad, especially if it was one of my siblings. 

The most trouble I ever got into I think in eighth grade was stuffing a kid into a locker because he was trying to stuff my brother into a locker.

[07:46] ELLEN:  (Chuckle with Matt)

[07:47] MATT:  that same brother who used to trade blows with me occasionally,(chuckle) the bad old days.

[07:53] ELLEN:  (Chuckle, empathy) Bad old days…  When did the days ... maybe, start to get a little better?

[08:00] MATT:  At sixteen years old. At that point, I'd been in a couple of group homes, spent some time basically incarcerated. You know, it's like, we got this kid. He's a Houdini. He can get out of any place we put him into that doesn't have locked doors. 

So, let's stick him here until we know what to do with him. I did end up in another psychiatric institution. Uh, it was a state one at that point. And I ended up in there for about a year and I think what helped me the most was perspective. 

At that point, I had started to realize exactly how many people there were in the world struggling with things like I had, but also, how many people who had it worse. Who had it tougher. Who were dealing with these issues that were typically triggered by an incredibly abusive home life, by an absentee father and an alcoholic mother, or an abusive couple, by grandparents who didn't know what to do with the young child. 

But just the number of situations that I heard about helped me to really look back on my parents’ love and understanding and get a grip on what I was going through. 

In addition, I had a very, very, very good counselor there. She pretty much made me her personal cause and she just spent so much time with me helping me look at it through that outside lens. She did things like biofeedback. She introduced me to meditation. She said, “Medications are great, but they don't do everything. You have to do the work.” And that really stuck with me. 

Now, I won't say it stuck with me permanently. Once again, that came and went in cycles, but it gave me one of the tools I needed to get a grip. And there was a specific instance where in the psychiatric hospital, as I said, there were some very disturbed individuals. 

And one particular instance was basically the equivalent of a jailhouse riot. You know, there was no flaming toilet paper like you've seen in the movies, but it was pretty intense and it forced me to really look at my situation and make a decision. 

Do I want to be part of the problem? Or do I want to be part of the solution? It's the first time I ever remember thinking that and I decided I wanted to be part of the solution. 

So, I did my best to help the people who were just kind of trying to avoid the mess that was caused by the situation. And it really helped me understand that I had the power to improve my own situation. 

As is the case with bipolars, basically, my very next manic episode was a frenzy of planning and reorganization of life, even from this institution, because I was still there. I worked out a plan to be discharged. I worked out a plan as to what I would do next. 

And one of the things that I'd asked for was to be emancipated, legally emancipated from my parents at that age, and they were willing because they understood what I was trying to do. 

But in order for the authorities, basically to be willing to consider such a thing, they wanted me to have a plan, and you know, ‘Hey, how do we know that you're gonna be able to do these good things, you know, without your parents help?’ 

So, I basically just formulated this whole system of things I wanted to do to develop myself professionally. I decided to take it a step further. I got my high school equivalence; I set up a vocational, technical training in culinary arts, so to speak. 

[11:14] ELLEN:  Alright hold on, before you become a chef, which sounds awesome, which I can’t wait to hear about… what made you feel you needed emancipate?

[11:24] MATT:   What I was processing at that point was I still wasn't confident, based on the past few years, that the home setting was the best idea. And by that, I mean, my family, not me. 

And when you do things like this, you look back and you inevitably have regrets. They can be almost crushing because you start to understand what that behavior did to the people around you. 

And the last thing I wanted to do, if it didn't work out, was for my family to suffer any further splash damage from that. So, to me, it was important for me to do it on my own, not cut myself off from my family, just make sure that there was a distance that was good for them. 

And frankly, good for me. One of my other self-realizations was that when I have people to lean on, I don't do as good as when I know that it’s up to me.

[12:12] ELLEN:  Hmm/Wow … What was it about culinary arts that made sense to 16-year-old Matt?

[12:19] MATT:  One of the intermediate steps in order to be discharged from that institution I mentioned was vocational rehabilitation. And they had a limited number of options. 

One of them was in the kitchen, and it just struck a chord immediately. Food on my father’s side is a love language.

[12:35] ELLEN:  Ahh…

[12:36] MATT:  This point I was still figuring out the healthiest way to live. So, it was definitely not all sunshine and roses. I went off my medication at times. I had relationships that ended terribly. Things that affected my mood. Things that affected my cycle. It wasn't all perfect. 

I found a guy in like, my second kitchen, he studied in France. And he took a shine to me and taught me a lot. I mean, like a lot. I wouldn't say that I had a classic training at the Dijon, but I got a lot of the side benefits of that and a lot of his knowledge.

So, I continue to experiment in the kitchen to this day. It's an outlet for me. It's my hobby and one of my passions, making good food and watching people enjoy it. Honestly, I like watching them enjoy it more than I like eating it…

[13:22] ELLEN:  (laugh together)…(bleeds to question)

[13:23] MATT:  …that’s my favorite part.

[13:26] ELLEN:  Wait aren’t you a software engineer now? What made you stop working in the kitchen?  

[13:31] MATT:  Blunt force trauma. (chuckles) Basically, working in the kitchen is not without hazards, including spilled sauces, slippery spots. Uh, it was a physical injury that forced my hand. I hurt my back very badly. 

In my early 20’s, I slipped and fell backwards over a wire rack in a cooler and ah, damaged a couple of vertebrae, pretty significantly to the point where I needed a couple of minor procedures, some rehab and a new profession, because at that time, I just could not be on my feet.

So, during the recuperation period, basically I had to find something new to do and it was driving my wife nuts. So, she's like, ‘Look, you gotta find something to do otherwise, I'm gonna have to kill you.’ 

And I don't even recall how I got into computers. I knew I wanted one. And she found me, I think it was probably a 46-Intel, and I was just like an idiot savant or whatever you want to call it. For some reason, without much formal education, computers made sense to me. Everything from scripting language to basic programming, just something that I fell into naturally. 

So, we had a toddler and a young baby at that point. My wife was working full time. I was trying to educate myself. It was quite a challenge. It was a combination of Mr. Mom and non-traditional student at that point.

[14:50] ELLEN:  Where did you go to learn all this?

[14:51] MATT:  Library. Library. Library. All the time the library. Any book they had,  I sucked it down. Any book they didn't have I asked them to get it and annoyed them until it came in. It was mostly self-education. Now, I won't say it was all self-education. I actually did have a semester at technical school, and that definitely gave me a lot of good hints to follow. But of course, given my nature I was always incredibly impatient with it, so it didn't last very long. I'm like, I can do this faster on my own. (chuckles)

[15:21] ELLEN:  What were the early steps like as you started to get a sense that this could work for you?

[15:28] MATT:  It was not easy. I had to knock on a lot of doors. Then I had to take the first opportunity that came along, which in this case, happened to be an internet service provider / computer repair shop. 

I think my first program was a script that detected when dial up modems, really dating myself here, when dial up modems had hung up and it would just reset them using the serial port and basically just say, ‘Reboot yourself so we can use you again.’

[15:55] ELLEN:  What is it about the coding that works for you and your condition?

[16:01] MATT:  When there’s something that you can’t do and you want to do it, you don't accept any sort of failure.

It's an unforgiving in a way you're punishing yourself, even if you don't mean to, because you're pretty hard on yourself if you don't have it yet.

It's that same sense of impatience that I have with others that I tend to have threefold with myself:  “Come on Matt, you can do this, you know you can do this. You can do this.” 

And it's a curse, because you are your own taskmaster and you drive yourself hard. It's a blessing, because you do not give up until you have won and I choose to focus on the blessing.

[16:37] ELLEN:  How hard is it to be quiet?

[16:40] MATT:  Being medicated and being healthy about this condition doesn't mean that you solve the problem, quote, unquote, solve the problem. It's still there with you. You've just learned how to cope with it. 

And if I'm in a manic phase, you know, five minutes can seem like five hours, right? And it's hard to deal with that kind of solitude. You got to be doing something. You have to be acting. 

Whereas in depressive, it can be just as unbearable, because there's nothing to think about except for all those negative thoughts you might be grappling with. Overall, I love the quiet. I really do. 

Ah, I like the time to think and this is something for everybody who happens to listen to this- 

•           Spend time with your family. 

•           Spend time with your dog. 

•           Go sit on a canoe in the middle of a lake. 

•           Some place quiet. 

•           Some place that is not where you're working.

I don't care if it's sticking your head out of your apartment window, that's the other thing. If you’ve got writer's block, walk away from the page for the love of God.

[17:40] ELLEN:  Laugh, (beat). So …how are you doing today?

[17:43] MATT:  Good. Very, very good. I’m in a place of acceptance and balance. And I cannot complain about my life at all. 

I think that everything that I've been gifted through learning to deal with this and through the disorder itself, more than compensates for anything negative I may be facing right now.

[18:05] ELLEN:  Is your family one of your tools today?

[18:09] MATT:  They are my most important tool.  If I want to know how I'm doing, I talk to my wife first and if she wants me to know how I'm doing she doesn't wait for me to ask. (chuckles) 

She is my rock. She helps me so much to get that outside perspective. Because you know, when you're in your own head, you don't necessarily see what the other people around you see and I have just learned over the years to trust her, because she’s never wrong. 

You know, she was wrong that one time I think in 1999, but we won’t talk about that.

[18:42] ELLEN:  (Laugh) Until we hear her side of the story we’ll leave it alone.  (Laugh) How about your kids? How do they manage through their dad’s condition at this point?

[18:51] MATT:  I think one of the best things that we have done with our children is to be very open and honest about the condition. I think it helped them come to a place of understanding. 

I know it wasn't easy for them. Growing up to have a dad who occasionally just seemed to, you know, fritz out and have a short (chuckles) circuit and start malfunctioning. That is not something easy for any kid. I can’t imagine having dealt with that as a child.

[19:17] ELLEN:  How alone do you feel today?

[19:20] MATT:  I look around me and I wonder how many people have struggled with issues like me and they're afraid to talk about it or afraid to share. I remind myself of that every day because I think it's important that people understand that they're not alone and that there's hope, and that there's light at the end of the tunnel. 

I don't know how to describe it any better than that. I guess I would say I spent a lot of time in the darkness because it wasn't widespread. It wasn't common knowledge. It wasn't normalized. And I will do everything in my power to normalize it. I'm not a leader in the mental health space. I just happened to be a leader with some mental health issues. 

And I want to share and help people understand that they're not alone, and that they got support, and we're moving out of the dark ages and understanding and acceptance. 

I want to get to a point where somebody with bipolar disorder, borderline, you know, any of the affective disorders, I want to get to a point where we look at it like a prosthetic…

[20:11] ELLEN:  Yeah, right…( *under Matt)

[20:13] MATT:  You know? I mean I fought cancer and won. I live with bipolar and I won because I’m here in society and I’m contributing. That’s where I want it to be.

[20:22] ELLEN:  You say you won, but for you, do you feel like the race is over?

[20:28] MATT:  We have to be constantly reminding ourselves that everybody is equal.  That everybody has adversities…

[20:35] ELLEN:  Well, your sense of empathy it’s remarkable…

[20:40] MATT:  And I really do have to wonder if that sensitivity is indeed part of the condition. It's one of those ‘chicken or the egg’ thought cycles that I have occasionally. 

Is the sensitivity due to the condition or is the condition due to the sensitivity? 

I mean, when you're that much of a receptor for the things around you, does it make it harder? But something I've never really been able to come to a satisfying conclusion about. 

Same thing with the intelligence, right? Do you have the condition because of the intelligence - intelligence because of the condition. But it always seems to come together.

[21:11] ELLEN:  It sure seems to… So, how have you seen love manifest through this journey?

[21:19] MATT:  When I care for others, it is a reflection of all the love that was given to me as I struggled through the early years of my condition. 

All that I'm doing is giving back a portion of what I received and continue to receive to this day. Solving these problems is invaluable. It is one of my tools because by losing myself in the problem, and then creating the solution, it’s an outlet for a lot of that angst.

[21:48] ELLEN:  What advice might you give someone who is lacking your confidence? I don’t know they might be saying, “I don’t want to expose this about my kid, or my family, or myself?”

[22:02] MATT:  Talk to the wall if you have to. 

Talk to the bush. 

Talk to your mom. 

Talk to your dad. 

Talk to your brother. 

Talk to anyone. 

You’re not solving the problem - you are releasing some of the pressure and you're helping yourself to understand that it's okay to talk about it. 

And then when you’ve practiced talking about it, find a professional. There's so many good people who talk to 1000s just like you, just like you who are going through this with a loved one or going through it yourself.

Talk to somebody, anybody. And let it go from there.

[22:37] ELLEN:  Matt, thank you for your candor and openness. Such an incredible, and inspiring story… 

(Sound design)

[22:47] ELLEN:  Continuing the podcast, we’d like to explore how our mental health is impacted by the omnipotence and, for better or worse, irreplaceability of technology and media influences today.

Please welcome Vanessa Greenwood, an author and professor whose research is focused on Media Literacy – which explores our ability to understand the influences of technology on our lives.

Vanessa, welcome to the podcast, can you tell us about the importance of media on our mental health?

[23:20] VANESSA:  Media literacy, with regards to health, is about  intentionality. It's about actively pursuing health. It's not about treating illness. What we need to do as a culture is instead actively pursue health, right?  And make that a priority in everyday.

[23:40] ELLEN:  So, from your perspective, what stands out within Matt’s story?

[23:45] VANESSA:  Matt is so reflective and curious and he leverages his intellect and his frustration to problem solve his life. 

And I think this critical distance he has on his earlier life is so valuable for those who are currently weathering the storm of mental disorder. 

And so, I think his overall message was to take the long view and just hang on. At the same time, I think there's this combative resilience that he has, kind of as his personality and so he had mentioned, you know, failure is not an option. 

And he's essentially rolling this big boulder up a hill every day, but he takes full ownership of that and I appreciate how his greatest weakness has become, you know, his greatest strength.

[24:35] ELLEN:  Mental health doesn’t just affect your relationships and personality - and it’s not a private matter - it can affect everything in your life, including, and especially, how you make a living in the first place.

[24:47] VANESSA:  You know, when he was a chef for a while and he got injured in that, and so it called attention to me that the fact that we're all susceptible to physical ailments, physical injury, and that's inextricably connected to your mental state. 

So, this isn't just a Matt story. This is everyone's story, because at some point, we have to confront that we're mortal, that we have bodies that will fail us and what do we do with our mindset? 

So, I love Matt's, this combative resilience, that you just push through. 

And he's definitely a programmer. I mean, when you think like a programmer, you have this ability to see a challenge from one angle and then take a step back, and then look at that same challenge from another angle. 

You're constantly troubleshooting and he can do this with his life.

[25:39] ELLEN:  What is it about Matt’s condition that was so complementary to the language we all communicate with today – through our digital technologies?

[25:48] VANESSA:  It wasn’t so much for him, I guess about coding, it was really about problem solving and troubleshooting his life. And coding was a vehicle that allowed him to enact those principles, at the same time. 

I mean, really, the parallel between coding and him achieving a mental wellness is really closely related.

I mean, it's not lost on me that his first computer program that he wrote was to reboot modems so that they could auto restart. I mean, how is that not analogous to what he did in his life? 

I mean, what a powerful analogy for Matt’s journey. Right?

[26:30] ELLEN:  Right, totally. But we’re still so new with all these technologies that we have today. We’re still learning to adapt, and how to utilize them effectively.

[26:42] VANESSA:  The economy of the internet can also be highly socially valuable and it can be therapeutic. But, it also because of those monetization structures, lead us down a road of mental unwellness. 

Where in the case of the students, the young people that I work with every day, it's all about the number of subscribes. The number of likes, who made a comment here - the hyper focuses is on the negative rather than, you know, focusing on the positive and looking towards the future, right? 

So, in a very rapid news cycle, and a very rapid online environment, there's very little attention to staying the course. And longevity. 

And so, Matt's story is really interesting, because that's what I began with, right? That his hindsight and being able to look back at such a fairly lengthy journey is admirable. And I think that’s antithetical to the internet, where it's just about rapid transactions.

[27:43] ELLEN:  And now that our communications have become mostly digital - it must be having a profound impact on our general wellness.

[27:51] VANESSA:  Coming back to social media, there’s no space to think.

It's clicks. 

It’s likes. 

It’s subscribes.

It's, you're not really thinking, you're scrolling. 

But you're not really thinking. You're taking in these visuals. 

And be aware that even the best of us fall into the trap of doom scrolling and, you know, look up once in a while, and I think Matt had mentioned that, you know? Look up instead of down at your phone. And certainly, programmers face this challenge, too. They're constantly on their screens.

So, you have to intentionally break away from that. You know, It's like life troubleshooting. At some point you have to power down.

[28:28] ELLEN:  (laughs)  And not doing so, leaves us vulnerable to the anxiety inducing machine that craves our attention all day long.

[28:37] VANESSA:  In a very fast news cycle, in a very busy day and this rapidly changing media environments, and even in our daily lives, we need to just slow it down. And I think that is a companion to solitude, to just thinking without any other influence around you. Just thinking and it certainly that's the benefit of meditation. So, that's already a principle that's in practice.

I also think Matt's story touches me on a personal level because he just, he hangs on. And there are so many people that don't hang on, and I have a brother who died by suicide. And I look back and I think of all the things that I could have done and I think in some ways, encouraging them to hang on, but also understanding that it's the long view. We need to take the long view of things. 

And so, Matt has a very strong sense of trajectory. He's exceptional in his ability to look back and make sense of the pieces of his life and I think he was open also to the beauty in the imperfection and the beauty in the struggle. 

And I think we bifurcate things and think that we're either happy or sad. When it's really two sides of the same coin. You can be sad and happy at the same time. You can struggle and have wellness at the same time. 

So, I think we just can’t tolerate ambiguity. So, part of hanging on is being tolerant of not having the answers, but that the answers will come and oftentimes they come in the form of, for Matt, it was family. It was a new job. It was, you know, himself, just thinking and giving him space to think.

[30:26] ELLEN:  Matt mentioned how important it is to find the quiet in our lives…

[30:31] VANESSA:  I mean, he’s proof that you can prosper in the eye of the storm.  It’s the calm right in the center. So, he's still in it, but he's found a way to achieve, you know, peace and balance and I think equilibrium too.

[30:47] ELLEN:  In terms of connections, are we communicating effectively – meaning, both speaking and listening.

[30:55] VANESSA:  I use, you know, aurality, this idea of talking it out. You’re hearing, you’re creating ideas, you're understanding what your thoughts are when you put them into words and when you speak them. Because when you speak them, you hear them. That’s fundamentally a different thought process than when you’re typing them and reading them.

[31:13] ELLEN:  So, how do these fundamental differences affect our ability to express our love for each other?

[31:20] VANESSA:  The unconditionality you love someone no matter what the circumstances, no matter what they do, that’s the ultimate love. I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that. It’s a very transactional culture that we live in. So, I think one of our struggles is to love someone no matter what they do.

It sounded like his parents were like that. I mean, they realized their limitations, that they couldn’t help him and they also needed to protect their other children. So, I think in those cases, you don’t stop loving, you know, your child or your sibling. And in some cases, the unconditional love means that you do the hardest thing, which is distance. I think that’s the ultimate love.

[32:03] ELLEN:  Thank you, Vanessa and thank you to Matt.

[32:08] ELLEN:  Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of

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New York Life Insurance Company
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