Out of Darkness and Into the Light

Scott Braucht was in the prime of his career. A consulting practice partner at a Wisconsin public accounting firm, his work life was outwardly focused and driven. But inside, he was struggling with a dark secret. For five years, Scott lived with deepening depression, unresponsive to multiple medications. And then, a doctor suggested an extreme, dramatic treatment. A new book, Into the Light, chronicles Scott’s experience.

braucht

Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Carole Gieseke. Photo by Jim Heemstra.

Scott Braucht remembers what it was like to grow up with a mentally ill parent. His father was “deeply manic depressive,” he says. He smoked, he drank – he had a terrible marriage and family life. Scott’s parents divorced when he was in his late teens. His father never sought treatment for his illness. He committed suicide at age 42.

Scott’s grandmother and aunt also displayed signs of mental illness, taking “nerve pills” and tranquilizers.

He began to experience symptoms of his own in his late thirties, just when his career began to take off. Around his 40th birthday, his depression got worse. He became unfocused, lethargic, anxious, and fearful.

Scott checked in with his primary physician, who recommended low doses of an anti-anxiety medication. And he suggested that Scott make an appointment with a psychiatrist.

That doctor diagnosed Scott with clinical depression and put him on a daily dose of Prozac. It wasn’t what Scott wanted to hear. He returned home to tell his wife, Mary. “She just sat there and listened and then stared off into the distance,” Scott writes in the book. “But she knew. And I knew she knew. I think it seemed to her like something was always wrong with me.”

The next three years were a roller coaster of doctor appointments, crises at work and home, and a seemingly endless combination of medications. Nothing helped. He was missing his three sons’ high school years.

He took a leave of absence from his job – a workplace that for Scott had become toxic and unbearable. He spent most of his time off sleeping, walking his dogs, and seeing doctors.

His diagnosis had been changed to deep depression and anxiety. After four months, he returned to work, his condition unimproved.

Scott’s depression was dark and deep, and it was going nowhere. He sought out a new doctor, who gave him a different diagnosis: bipolar disorder. The doctor prescribed lithium, which immediately made Scott violently ill.

Mary and other members of Scott’s family staged an intervention. They persuaded him to go to the hospital. He was admitted to the psychiatric unit.

It was at this point, which Scott describes as one of the lowest points of his illness, that he first learned about ECT: electroconvulsive therapy.

“My psychiatrist decided that it was time to intervene more drastically,” Scott writes. “I was willing to try anything that had a good chance of making me feel better.”

In simple terms, an ECT treatment momentarily sends a jolt of electricity through a patient’s head. Most patients require multiple treatments – sometimes more than a dozen. Despite the public’s view that electroconvulsive therapy is an outdated and barbaric procedure, ECT is widely accepted by the mental community and has seen a resurgence at many medical centers around the country.

The Mayo Clinic calls the treatment, which has a reported success rate of 70 to 80 percent, the “gold standard” treatment for severe depression. The most common side effect, according to proponents, is temporary short-term memory loss.

Scott was eager to give the procedure a try. The first treatment failed, likely because he still had too much anti-depression medication in his system. Two weeks later, the doctors tried again. This time the procedure “worked” – it induced seizures in Scott’s body. After the treatment, he didn’t feel any different. Nine or 10 more treatments followed.

Finally, toward the end of the treatments, Scott’s darkness began to lift. “I wasn’t so foggy,” he writes. “I felt more aware of what was happening. It had been so long since I felt well that I wasn’t sure what ‘feeling well’ felt like. I was cautious.”

During this time, Scott and Mary visited the ISU campus for a special alumni event. At one point, he writes, he realized he was having fun. “I kept pinching myself, kind of in disbelief.” The dark days seemingly were over.

The worst of Scott’s illness lasted for five years, lost years he regrets that he will never get back. His family – his wife and sons, his mother and stepfather – stayed strong for him the whole time.

“The person who was behind me – holding me up, staying with me, putting up with it, carrying on with the children, running the household – was Mary,” Scott told me.

It had been 10 years since his last ECT treatment. Wewere visiting in his home in Verona, Wis., on a warm spring day in late May. Scott’s book had been published the previous fall.

Fifteen years ago, when Scott was first diagnosed with depression – and later with bipolar disorder – he says he looked for a book that would help him navigate the disease, but what he found was mostly books that were clinical in nature or focused on pharmaceuticals. He only found one – the book written by “60 Minutes” correspondent Mike Wallace – that was a first-person account written by a man. “Middle-aged men are very guarded,” Scott says.“We don’t discuss our weaknesses.”

During the worst of his symptoms, Scott had the idea to write his own book.

“I made a bet with God: ‘If you get me through this thing, I will write a book to help others get better,’” he says. “There was no other motivation behind it.”

In 2011, Scott says, he wrote the book in three months while he was recovering from a fall.

“People say it took courage to write the book,” he says. “Actually, it really didn’t.”

But, clearly, Scott took a risk by writing about his darkest moments. He admits that by writing the book, he’s completely “exposed.” Throughout his struggle with his illness, he says he was haunted with the notion that those in the professional community would find out. Around this disease, he says, people have a hard time knowing what to say. People especially have a hard time talking about ECT because there’s still fear about that process.

“But it’s not scary,” he insists. “The doctor said ECT rearranges the protons and neutrons in your brain. He told me if it works, we don’t know why. I just know it worked for me. I wish my health care providers had introduced ECT into the mix much earlier in my treatment plan.”

Scott says he’s now “10 years clean and well” and for that, he is grateful. He left his old company, and for a time he managed a capital campaign fundraising firm in Madison. But now he’s returned to the classroom. He teaches business classes part-time at Cardinal Stritch University and Edgewood College – mostly evening classes for returning adults.

Scott still takes medication for his disease, something he’s more than happy to do for the rest of his life if it means his illness is kept in balance. He’s had a positive reaction to the publication of his book – nothing but thoughtful and deliberate support, he says.

“People tell me they never knew [I had a mental illness],” he says softly. “I must have covered it well.”

The wit & delight of Kate Arends

katearendsnew

Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Carole Gieseke. Photo by Jim Heemstra.

When Kate Arends (’06 graphic design) first learned that she had topped 1 million followers on Pinterest, she couldn’t believe it.

Her blog, Wit & Delight, had begun in 2009 and slowly built a following. Then, as an early adopter of Pinterest, she branched out.

“Out of the top hundred [Pinterest] pinners, there are a handful of us who are bloggers as well, so that’s been really powerful because we exist on multiple platforms instead of just one,” Arends said. “If you love Wit & Delight on Pinterest you can then discover the blog and then discover the Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter accounts.”

Arends now has more than 2.6 million followers on Pinterest – a feat that has not gone unnoticed. Her unique passion for art, fashion, and culture has been featured in the New York Times, Women’s Wear Daily, Lucky Magazine, The Inside Source (eBay’s digital shopping style magazine), Elle Decor, Mashable, the Glitter Guide, and The Everygirl. She was recently profiled in the July/August 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

When she launched her online presence, Arends said, “I found the things that I gravitate toward  he most always had an element of beauty, and there was always an element of humor in it. Those two things equaled a really interesting point of view; not a lot of people were looking at the world from that angle.”

A former communications and digital media director for The Daft Group and graphic designer for Cue, Inc., Arends is now running the Wit & Delight Studio full-time from her home in Minneapolis. And her brand is about to take another big leap: Last February, Target announced that Arends and two other top Pinterest tastemakers would have party collections featured in stores nationwide.

According to Pinterest, there are more than 700,000 party-planning-related items “pinned” on its  boards every day. The Wit & Delight party collection – in stores this fall – provides everything you’d need for a beer-tasting party. Arends said the collection was inspired by artisan food and  craft beer.

With her influence on her followers – mostly 25- to 40-year-old urban-dwelling females – Arends is
approached every day by companies pushing the latest décor, jewelry, footwear, and clothing.

“Someone like J. Crew will approach me and they’ll say, ‘We’ll pay you a fee for creating the  photography, writing, and doing your thing with our product and sharing it,’” she said. “I’m very, very choosy as to whom I accept sponsorships from. I say no to 80 percent of inquiries. But you get to put your creative stamp on it, and I think people appreciate the effort that goes into that.”

Arends admits her life isn’t as glamorous as it may come across online. Her husband, Joe Peters, has his own Twitter account (“Wit in Real Life”) that shows the behind-the-scenes life of a style  maven.

“He tweets about the mess I leave behind trying to Instagram a waffle,” she says.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week:

1) Next week is Thanksgiving, so be sure to follow ISU Extension & Outreach Answerline’s tips when it comes to stuffing safety!

2) Last week the website OutSports.com ran a story about ISU’s national champion shot putter, Christina Hillman, who has her own unique story about femininity, relationships, and being part of the LGBT community. The senior from Dover, Del., is the defending national champ in both indoor and outdoor shot put and told Out Sports’ Cyd Zeigler she identifies as “pansexual,” which Zeigler writes is “another color in the LGBT rainbow.”

“I want to prove to myself and others that you can be physically strong, succeed in a masculine sport, and still identify as feminine,” Hillman said. “What if I could get really good and I could be this out pansexual Olympian, that it can just be normal? That’s one of the things that drives me, to be able to be a role model for others.” You can read the full story online here.

3) Iowa State has raced out to an 11-0 lead in the 2014-2015 Iowa Corn crosscountryCy-Hawk Series after taking down the Hawkeyes, along with scores of other teams, at Friday’s NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships in Peoria, Ill. The No. 5 ISU women’s team won the regional title for the fifth year in a row, qualifying for the NCAA championships this Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. The men finished third, also ahead of Iowa. Follow the NCAA championships online at www.ncaa.com/liveschedule/2014/11/22 and the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series online at www.iowacorncyhawkseries.com.

4) ISU associate professor of history Amy Bix recently published the book Girls Coming to Tech!: A History of American Women in Engineering, and last week she talked to Iowa Public Radio’s Charity Nebbe about it. Listen to the interview and learn more about the book online.

5) And just because “what the heck,” here’s a sample of some social media snaps of last week’s SNOW in Ames, which started on Veterans Day and continued into the weekend:

snownov2014

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

cyclonecity1) The Leadership Ames Class XXVII has announced that it will auction off five of the 30 CyclONE City statues during the Ames Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours Dec. 4 at the ISU Alumni Center. The five statues are: eCy, Cy-House Rock!, Cyclone Classic, Farmer Cy, and Dia de los Ciclones. The auction, which will begin at 6:45 p.m., is open to the public. Find out more about the auction at http://cyclonecity.wordpress.com/auction/

CyclONE City, a “tour” of 30 life-sized Cy statues, is a fundraising project to support three local Ames charities and a scholarship for Iowa State University. The statues were publicly revealed on Saturday, Aug. 30 and are on display around Ames until Dec. 5

liasson2) NPR’s Mara Liasson is visiting campus this week as ISU’s 26th Mary Louise Smith Chair for Women and Politics. Her lecture, sponsored by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, is entitled “What Just Happened? The 2014 Elections and Beyond” and is, obviously, an analysis of the 2014 midterm elections and their potential future implications. The lecture is free and open to the public on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union Sun Room.

instagramcy

3) Do you Instagram? We at the ISU Alumni Association are just getting started. Follow us at @isualum to see some behind-the-scenes views of campus, ISUAA events and programs, and daily life at the ISU Alumni Center. Last week our Instagram followers got a look at the first-ever inflation of our new mini inflatable Cy (though he’s still bigger than real Cy).

goldstarhall

4) Tomorrow is Veterans Day, so ISU will carry out an annual tradition by honoring fallen soldiers at its Gold Star Hall Ceremony. Five Iowa Staters will be honored at tomorrow’s 3:15 p.m. ceremony, which is open to the public — including three new names that have been added to the Memorial Union tribute as part of the university’s ongoing efforts to identify all Iowa Staters who have perished in conflicts throughout history. Gold Star Hall was started in 1928, when 117 names of Iowa Staters who died in World War I were engraved into the walls of the MU’s north entrance. Names from other conflicts were added in 1984, and the hall is now an ongoing tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States.

banana-pudding5) November is national Banana Pudding Lovers Month, so here’s an ISU Extension banana pudding parfait recipe that’s quick and easy to make with your kids.

Five Things

Here are five things to put on your Cardinal & Gold radar this week.

clark_wesley1) Retired four-star Gen. Wesley Clark is scheduled to speak on campus this Wednesday. Clark will present “Don’t Wait for the Next War” — based on his latest book about his vision for the future of American global leadership — at 8 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall as the keynote lecture in ISU’s World Affairs Series. The lecture is free and open to the public.

2) With Election Day a week away, most Iowans can probably agree that they’re growing weary of the nonstop campaign ads in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Bruce Braley (’80 political science) and Republican Joni Ernst (’92 psychology). But students in Kelly Winfrey’s ISU campaign rhetoric class may have a new appreciation for what goes into campaigning after participating in a recent mock campaign. Winfrey designed the project to give students a unique glimpse into the campaign process. “I think they develop a better understanding of why and how campaign decisions are made in the real world,” Winfrey told ISU News Service. “Even though it’s a mock campaign, they have to think strategically about what they want to say, how they’re going to say it, and how the opponent might use what they say against them. Candidates have to be strategic in their messaging if they’re going to win an election. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what a candidate might achieve in office if [he or she] loses.”

Read more about the mock campaign in an ISU News Service article.

3) The Iowa State cross country teams are headed to Lawrence, Kansas this weekend for the Big 2014_10_24nelson12 Championship. Will the women’s team four-peat as league champs? Yes, if junior Crystal Nelson has anything to say about it. The Winchester, Virginia, native was named the U.S Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association national athlete of the week Oct. 20 after she closed out the regular season by winning the prestigious Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin (teammate Katie Moen placed fifth, which is no small achievement, either). Nelson now sits at No. 3 and Moen at No. 11 in the national Saucony FloRankings.

4) When is it too early to talk March Madness? The answer is: It’s never too early to talk March Madness. Don’t be silly. FOX Sports’ Reid Forgrave jumped into the March Madness talk headfirst last week when he released his “way too early” men’s basketball Final Four picks. And he has included Iowa State in his Final Four, noting: “This, I believe, should be Hoiberg’s year.” Funny, since the Big 12 coaches recently voted the Cyclones fifth in their preseason poll. But whatcha gonna do? We’ll quote Taylor Swift, but maybe not the Big Ten mascot version.

5) It’s Halloween week! When you come down from your sugar high, be sure to stop by Morrill Hall Thursday night to hear “Ghost Stories of Iowa State.” And save us some mini Snickers, please.

Campustown Reborn

campustown

Originally published in the fall 2014 issue of VISIONS
Written by Steve Sullivan. Photos by Jim Heemstra

When the state of Iowa prohibited smoking in bars and restaurants in 2008, the crew at Welch Avenue Station took action.

They removed everything from the walls of the longtime Campustown oasis. The neon beer signs. The music posters. The Iowa State memorabilia. All of it. After years of nicotine were scrubbed away, the walls were repainted as close to the same color as they had been for as long as anyone could remember. Then the Welch Avenue gang put everything back on the walls, hanging each sign and picture exactly where it had been, even using the exact same nail holes.

“Alumni come back to town and come in and say the place hasn’t changed a bit,” says Mike Adams, Welch Avenue bar manager since 1996. “It has, but it feels the same.”

This bit of tavern lore offers an apt metaphor for the challenge now facing Campustown: How to hold tight to the district’s diverse character, while embracing the opportunities presented by significant change.

And significant change is most definitely coming to Iowa State’s Campustown.

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A Campustown renaissance
Kim Hanna, director of the Campustown Action Association (CAA), does not hesitate to use the “r” word when talking about what’s happening in the nine-block district that for more than 100 years has been a hang-out for Iowa State students, staff, and alumni drawn to the bars, restaurants, hair salons, T-shirt shops, book stores, movie theaters, tattoo parlors, and much more.

“We’re seeing the biggest wave of investment in Campustown by the city and university in years,” she says. “This is the renaissance of Campustown.”

This so-called renaissance is driven primarily by Kingland Systems, a software and data-management company started in the ISU Research Park by founder David Kingland (L)(’80 industrial administration). The company moved to the old Ames Theater space on Lincoln Way in 2004, tightening the bond with its biggest pool of employees: Iowa State students.

The old theater was one of nine buildings on the 2400 block of Lincoln Way owned for decades by the Champlin family of Ames. Kingland purchased all nine in 2012, launching a redevelopment project that will alter the landscape of Campustown, and quite possibly the very personality of the district.

“We are excited about this being our permanent home in Ames,” says Todd Rognes (A)(’85 accounting), Kingland president. “We believe this area can attract college students and professionals alike, and we hope our project demonstrates that Campustown is an area for the entire community.”

Birth of a district
The late A.L. Champlin is considered by many to be the father of Campustown. In 1908, he built the area’s first brick building at the corner of Lincoln Way and Welch Avenue. It was the entry point to what would eventually become today’s Campustown. During its long history, the building housed a grocery store, a drug store, a dance hall (in the years before Memorial Union), and various eating and drinking establishments, including People’s Bar and Grill, which energized Iowa State’s live music scene in the 1990s.

Over the years, Champlin built more structures along the 2400 block of Lincoln Way, including the Ames Theater. Champlin constructed it in 1919 after the city lifted a ban on theaters near campus.

The 2400 block itself has hosted the occasional residence and a variety of businesses, including the Varsity Theater, Student Supply Store, and the Maji Jewelry Store. The strip has also been home at one time or another to long-defunct restaurants with names like Cyclone Lunch, College Inn, Mother’s Kitchen, L-Way Café, Baxter’s Bar and Grill, and Serpico Pizza.

The Champlin buildings are now gone, demolished in May 2014 to make way for the Kingland project, which Rognes hopes will provide “a positive lift in attitude and appearance to Campustown.”

A retail tenant, CVS/pharmacy, will occupy a portion of the new three-story structure going up at the corner of Lincoln and Welch. Kingland plans to use about

a third of the remaining new space for its growing business. Iowa State also has plans to use a significant amount of the new space for staff offices. The entire ground level will be available to retail tenants.

Kingland expects to eventually have more than 300 employees working in Campustown. Rognes acknowledges that some may view the project as an office space takeover of the district. But, he points out, the project also “actually increases the amount of retail space from its previous state. We engaged with many parties as we designed our project, including the city, CAA, the Champlin family, and Iowa State to design a project that will draw people to Campustown for a multitude of reasons. This project can support Campustown in becoming a district that is well-rounded and full of a variety of offerings.”

Lynn Lloyd, the granddaughter of A.L. Champlin and former co-owner of the Lincoln Way buildings, knows all too well the toll that business turnovers, upkeep of aging buildings, and competition from other areas of the city have taken on Campustown.

“We had 17 bars at one time,” she says. “There’s no way that many bars can make it now.”

While the brick-and-mortar buildings represented a wealth of Champlin family history, Lloyd feels as exhilarated as she does bittersweet about their demise.

“I hope new and interesting and exciting things happen for the students, and that this also inspires other parts of Campustown to develop,” she says. “My grandfather would be happy to see all this. He didn’t believe in sentimentality.”

A neighborhood
Campustown has been going through a gradual transformation for several years, spurred by increasing Iowa State enrollment.

There are 20 apartment buildings with 501 units in the district as of June 1, 2014. More than half of those units were built in the last decade. Many of the new buildings feature retail space.

More housing is on the way. In May 2014, Campus Book Store, at the corner of Lynn Avenue and Lincoln Way and directly across from campus, was demolished to make room for The Foundry, a six-story structure with 53 rental units and groundlevel retail space. It is slated to be completed in August 2015.

Just up the street, a small building that most recently housed a coffee shop (Lorry’s, which has since moved to West Street where it shares space with Mother’s Pub, which was once home to Boheme Bistro and before that the gone-but-fondly remembered Dugan’s Deli) was torn down. A bank building next to it also was razed. The site will now be home to 23 Twenty Lincoln, a 320-bed student housing complex. 23 Twenty will also have retail space, as well as the kind of amenities that get the HGTV crowd oohing and aahing: granite counter tops, walk-in closets, enclosed courtyard with a hammock garden, fire pit, and outdoor barbecue kitchen. Oh, and there’s also a coffee bar and fitness center with a tanning room.

On Chamberlain Street, just off Welch Avenue, yet another building offering eight units with 40 bedrooms, as well as retail space, is going up.

Guarded optimism
The Campustown student housing boom has, at least to this point, had little impact on the retail environment of Campustown. While a few new establishments have popped up, the district remains a collection of primarily locally grown businesses housed in aging buildings that are owned by a mix of area and long-distance landlords. With all the new retail space coming, the CAA has a long wish list for the district: a grocery store, an 80-seat restaurant, and a combination performance and cinema space.

“Campustown has thousands of students and hundreds of residents, but we are missing so many services,” Hanna says. “We want regional and national chains moving into the district, but we also want a mix of local businesses and chains to keep our diversity alive.”

Diversity is a huge component of the Campustown personality, and one that many fear will be diminished. A bright and shiny 2400 block of Campustown facing Lincoln Way runs the risk of making the 2500 block look like an ugly cousin. (The city has recently made grant money available for façade renovation.) With its row of older buildings, each with its own distinct curb appeal, housing ethnic eateries, a comic book store, a tanning salon, and more than one hairstyling establishment, the block arguably has more of a “lived-in” look that you might expect from a campus town.

“They are missing the whole point of Campustown if they are going to tear it down and give it a facelift,” says Rob Josephson, who opened Mayhem comic book store in 1990. “Looks are one thing, but it’s the businesses that draw people. Who wants to come to a campus town that’s all office space?”

“We’re happy to see a fresh look coming to Campustown. The rundown look can chase people away,” says Welch Avenue’s Adams. “But I’d hate to see the character of the place go. You need more than apartment buildings and big box stores.”

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Matthew Goodman (’96 chemistry, MS ’00), both a Campustown restaurateur and a member of Ames City Council, hopes “we can maintain the incredible diversity of ownership and incubator nature of Campustown. I think we have more foreign-owned restaurants per square foot than any place in Iowa. If our choices destroy the unique cultural fabric, then we’ve failed. It’s going to take vision and courage to maintain this. It’s the only district like this in town. This is it. If you gussy it up too much to the point of it being sterile you’ve really lost something.”

All anyone can do right now is wait and see what the impact of the new developments will be. In the meantime, contractors and cranes will be busy along Lincoln Way. Visitors to the district will continue to stop by Stomping Grounds for a latte, University Barbers for a trim, and Mayhem for the latest installment of “The Avengers.”

But there’s no avoiding this fact: The Champlin buildings are history, and in Campustown, a new era is has begun.

Ames freelancer Steve Sullivan counts a Dugan’s Deli T-shirt among his most cherished possessions.

Career Minute

Think You Chose the Wrong Career?
Do you have a sinking feeling that after years of college and working in a specific industry you may have gotten it all wrong? Read this article from Brazen Careerist to find out some tips to help you transition to the career you love.

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We have several archived career-related webinars that you can watch at any time. The topics range from emotional intelligence to why you might be sabotaging your job search. Click here to watch and keep checking back as more archived webinars will be added.