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How Kaleb Thompson is Innovating the War on Depression

33,200,000. This is the approximate number of people who suffer from diagnosable depression in the United States alone. On average, one in every ten people suffer from some form of diagnosable depression; however, this statistic only reflects conditions found in those who receive care. If you take one look around, it’s not hard to see that this percentage is likely to be much higher, if everyone were to be assessed by a professional for depression, anxiety, or some other form of mental illness. For most of his life, Kaleb Thompson, a young and promising author from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was that one in ten. Today, he uses his talent, creativity, and innovation to help others escape the walls of the statistics that once trapped him.

In December of 2021, Thompson released his first official body of work, Peace in the Midst of the Storm. 11 National Book Awards and countless endorsements later, Kaleb’s journey and work is being used to pry open cell doors in the prison of negativity every day. “In a world full of bad news, pessimism, and negativity, Kaleb reminds us that faith, resilience, and empowerment can help us overcome any challenge.” These are the words of Michael Benson, President of Coastal Carolina University, where Thompson received his first Master’s Degree, in August of 2020. Why such a stir? After all, the message may be refreshing, but it’s not entirely new. What separates Kaleb from the herd of ‘positivity culture’ isn’t so much his message as it is the way He delivers it—through poetry.

One could argue that a large part of what makes his work so effective is that poems tend to package ideas in a concise and memorable form. A poem is more likely to stick with someone than your average sentence or paragraph. In tandem, Psychology Today set out to answer a question: “Why has poetry moved humans for millennia?” Marianna Pogosyan, Ph.D., a lecturer in Cultural Psychology and a consultant specializing in cross-cultural transitions provided her input. “Research in psychology offers various hypotheses: poetry arouses profound emotions and their psychophysiological signatures (goosebumps, tears), sends readers on a meaning-finding quest, gifts aesthetic pleasure, and engages the brain’s primary reward circuitry. Poems can even provide a ‘holding environment’ that facilitates healing, and they have been used in clinical settings as part of cognitively based psychotherapies. A share of poetry’s magic emerges by virtue of encountering validation of our innermost, unarticulated experiences, the relief and gratification of finally being seen. ‘Reading a poem can feel as if the world comes and finds us for the first time,’ says poet David Whyte. This reconnaissance between self and world, maybe even “as a much larger identity than we held until that moment” is how poetry, according to Whyte, can prompt transfiguration.” 

It’s safe to say that science and human history are in favor of Kaleb’s style. Thompson’s unique concoction of poetry, inspiration, and heavy spiritual themes produces a potent medicine for the soul. It’s a prescription effective at any dose for all ages and walks of life. In fact, it may even be one that’s helpful for you. If you’ve ever felt like you’re the one in ten, try a dose of peace—Peace in the Midst of the Storm.

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