Summarizing Learn for Yourself

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I just copied a rough draft of my new book, Learn For Yourself, into a free summarizer. In a few seconds, it reduced my 116-page manuscript to 10 items


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It’s all a matter of learning, but it’s not the sort of learning that is the province of training departments, workshops, and classrooms.

You are learning to learn how to become the person you wrote the obit for.

It’s learning to know versus learning to be.

Most of what we learn, we learn by interacting with others.

Sharing is an act of learning and can be considered your responsibility for the greater social learning contract.

Know-who (social networking skills, locating the key people and communities where competencies, knowledge, and practice reside and who can add the greatest value to one’s learning and work) Two students working on one computer learn more than both would learn if working individually.

Learners can give more than they take by sharing what they learned and how they learned it with others.

We call this phenomenon the new culture of learning, and it is grounded in a very simple question: What happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change?”

While the summary skips over the primary content, fifty ways to learn better and work smarter, it catches the spirit of the book rather well.

When I’m deciding whether reading a lengthy article is worth my time, I’ll sometimes dump it in a summarizer to figure out if it’s worthwhile to read further.

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Here’s a summary of the Working Smarter Fieldbook:

 

 

While learning is ascendant, training is in decline, for workers are embracing self-service learning; they learn in the context of work, not at some training class divorced from work.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” The use of social media in learning is is often referred to as “social learning”, but as has been demonstrated this has a much wider meaning than simply using social media for training – “social training” – but also for social (workflow/informal) learning where workers can share information and knowledge with others in networks and communities as well as adopting a new collaborative approach to working.

Note, this does not mean building lots more learning content nor implementing a traditional “command and control” (social) learning (management) system where everyone’s learning is tracked, monitored and managed, but rather providing an open,and enabling environment for individuals and groups to support their own learning and performance needs.

Any system that claims to “manage informal learning” is a learning management system, since once you start to “manage informal learning” it becomes “formal learning” as in a LMS the learning of the learners is still under the control of the organization.

In order to reinvent formal learning ALSO requires a re-thinking of the existing provision of formal learning, but to go further and to transform learning requires a complete NEW mindset in understanding the role of “learning” in an organization, – and to appreciate that, as my colleague, Harold Jarche in the Internet Time Alliance says “learning=working; working=learning”.

The shift from training (we tell you what to learn) to learning (you decide what to learn) increases the scope of the director’s job from classes, workshops, and tests to the broad array of networks, communities, meta-learning, and learning culture.

However, if the mindset has stretched beyond event-based learning to where most learning occurs for workers, which is in the workplace at the point-of-need, where process-based learning serves best and where learning through doing and learning as part of the work process happens, then ID takes on a whole new dimension.

We’ve looked at blogs, wikis, FAQs, instant messaging, crowdsourcing, sharing ideas, discussion among colleagues, discussion with experts, discussion with customers, learning on demand, chat, prediction markets, outsourcing innovation, communities of practice, subject matter networks, collaboration, expertise location, video learning, podcasts, coaching, use-generated content, experiential learning, mentoring, and peer-to-peer learning.

[Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

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Finally, here’s a summary of Informal Learning. When a book is loaded with content, it’s impossible for the Summarizer to boil it down to 10 items.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

Back in California, Peter and I met at the Institute for Research on Learning to talk further about informal learning, communities of practice, anthropological research, and learning as engagement.

CONCEPTS examines the incredible acceleration of time, a working definition of informal learning, how informal learning benefits organizations, and why learning ecosystems will crowd out training programs.

…..The emergent way of learning is more likely to involve community, storytelling, simulation, dynamic learning portals, social network analysis, expertise location, presence awareness, workflow integration, search technology, help desks, spontaneity, personal knowledge management, mobile learning, and co-creation.

We aim to create a learnscape where workers can easily find the people and information they need, learning is fluid and new ideas flow freely, corporate citizens live and work by the organization’s values, people know the best way to get things done, workers spend more time creating value than handling exceptions, and everyone finds their work challenging and fulfilling.

“One way to utilize spacing is to change the definition of a learning event to include the connotation that learning takes place over time real learning doesn’t unusually occur in one-time events.” …..In the chapter on Informal Learning, I likened formal learning with riding on a bus and informal learning with driving a car or riding a bicycle.

When you’ve finished, you not only learn your top five signature strengths, but also how you compare to everyone who has taken the survey, people of your gender, people your age, people in your line of work, people with your level of education, and people who reside in your and neighboring zip codes.

Not only does it confirm the significant frequency of informal learning, it demonstrates that informal learning shows up in many ways: e-Learning, traditional book study, social learning, and experience.” [Traditional] To gain knowledge or information of; to ascertain by inquiry, study, or investigation; to acquire understanding of, or skill; as, to learn the way; to learn a lesson; to learn dancing; to learn to skate; to learn the violin; to learn the truth about something.

Do you use a summarizer to condense text?

My life as a sysop

internetI love the internet.

 

I detest the amount of maintenance that’s required just to keep things running.

I didn’t sign up for wasting several hours a week dealing with nuisance requests. It’s beginning to feel like the old days, when you had to kow-tow to IT to get anything done.

Over cautious?

Take this morning. eBay emailed that my account had been compromised. Change your password! So far so good. Next instruction: change the password for your primary email account. Great. Now my passwords are so obscure than if I don’t have my online password manager at work, I’ll be locked out of those accounts in the future.

Then I log into my bank. As a routine security measure, I must change my password and username to access my account. What? Change my username? Now I’m jaycross everywhere except my bank. My username’s never been secret. Why mess with it now?

Changes like these cascade to other linked accounts. No doubt I’ll be dealing with vestiges of these account changes for weeks.

Google and others keep bugging me to set up two-stage identification where I’ll have to enter a code they email or message me in order to get into my accounts. No thanks. I’d be checking messages 20 times a day. Some companies don’t give you the choice; they implemented this clumsiness without asking permission.

“Security”

Yesterday we got a letter (paper, stamped, brought by the letter carrier) from Anthem Healthcare. They reported that our account security may have been breeched. Yeah, we read about that three months ago, when it happened to 80 million current and past customers. It may have started almost a year ago, in April ’14.

It appears the breech was caused by phishing access credentials from five different Anthem employees. It was simple old social engineering, not sophisticated software, that opened the door to expose your and my name, social security number, email addresses, physical address, employment history and income. Anthem hadn’t bothered to encrypt any of this information.

Anthem wrote, “There are steps you may take to guard yourself against identity theft or fraud. We urge likely impacted members to stay alert for incidents of fraud and identity theft.” What a load of crap. There was nothing I could do to protect the information in the hands of Anthem or Chase or Target or the others who are sharing my personal data with Russian hackers. My crap detectors are always out for criminal hackers and their scams.

Aa far as I’m concerned, if a company requires me to submit personal information, they have responsibility for keeping it private. That’s part of the deal. Break that promise, and I’ll no longer be your customer. In fact, I’ll spread the word in order to scare off other potential customers.

Phishing

Today’s mail brought this gem:

I Am Mr. Phillips A. Oduoza, Chief Finance Officer & Executive Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA). We wish to bring to your notice that you have an Accrued Interest worth of $775,500.00 usd (Seven Hundred and Seventy Five Thousand Five Hundred United State Dollars), in our Bank to claim.

Worse still is the free program I downloaded from the net. The software used to work just fine. This time, hackers inserted malware that took residence on my computer. It took a couple of hours to remedy the damage.

I could go on but we’d both be bored to tears. Experience has already taught you this stuff.

 

Flip your meetings


American business people attend 11,000,000 business meetings every day and half of it’s a waste of time.

Knowledge workers spend three hours a day in meetings. Senior executives spend more. Four out of five of us have brought other work to do during a meeting. One in ten of us admits to daydreaming. Four in ten have fallen asleep. What a waste.

Bringing people together face-to-face is a catalyst for innovation, collegiality, and rewarding conversations. Collaboration has its intrinsic rewards. It is sinful to waste this time together aimlessly or passively listening to presentations.

Over the course of a career, you will attend tens of thousands of meetings. It adds up to years of meetings. They could be great or they could be horrible. The choice is yours.

You can re-jigger your meetings to make them relevant, challenging, and fun by adopting an approach that is revolutionizing secondary school learning.

It’s called Flipping the Meeting. Flipped meetings focus people’s face-to-face time on working with one another to solve problems. You prepare in advance at your own pace with resources framing the business issue. When people convene, they spend their time collaborating to solve a problem. Conversations cross-fertilize ideas and fuel learning. In the flipped meeting, you focus on making the decision before the bell goes off.

Two teachers pioneered the philosophy of flip starting back in 2007. Students read their homework before class and use the classroom for discussion, not presentation. Grades go up, as does retention. Millions of students have signed up for flipped instruction through The Khan Academy. This is the same philosophy that underlies the Flipped Meeting. Be prepared to be inspired and listen to the founders of the flip:

How to Conduct a Flipped Meeting 

Provide the content and purpose beforehand, use face-to-face time for interactive problem-solving. It flippin’ works. Your flipped meetings will be characterized by::

  • Faster decisions
  • Better allocation of time
  • Action-oriented
  • More engagement
  • Innovative thinking
  • Shorter meetings

Tell your colleagues you want to experiment with a way to save time and improve performance in company meetings. Tell them about Flipped Meetings. Point them to this post. Get folks to agree to experiment for a few rounds. You can do it. It’s not rocket science.

Before the meeting

At least 24 hours in advance, tell participants what problem the meeting is expected to solve. Provide links to relevant documents and reference materials.

Make the problem a specific task, e.g. “create a plan to cut costs 20%” or “design new assessment strategy.” Here’s a sample invitation.

This simple step of sending background material in advance addresses the most frequent complaint lodged against traditional meetings: We don’t know the purpose of this meeting.

By the way, Amazon has banned PowerPoint as a way to explain the nature of the problem.

During the meeting

Facilitator encourages interaction and progression to solving the problem.

Don’t spend time talking about ideas or initiatives you know you won’t take action on.

Good practices:

  • Appoint a recorder.
  • Collaboration rules. Perhaps sit in a circle — or stand up!
  • Diversity is good. Encourage it.
  • Use Twitter as a backchannel for communications.
  • Solve the problem before departing.
  • Leave as soon as the problem is solved.
  • Final 30 seconds: How was this session? Would you recommend it to a colleague?

After the meeting

Share recorder’s notes and all notes, drawings, PostIt notes, and artifacts from the session.

Ask yourself, was this meeting worthwhile? Could we have accomplished our work in half the time? Overall, could we benefit from more 15-minute meetings? Half-hour sessions?

Why not experiment? Flip some meetings. It will improve your quality of life.


Research sponsored by Litmos.

Learning in Organizations Community

mastheadTwo years ago I set up a Google Group on Learning. Last night I wrote the members:

You’re one of 1,797 members of the Learning in Organizations Community on Google Plus.

Since its founding two years ago, our community has morphed into a place to post wisdom, schlock, and self-boosterism. Some days you get lucky and discover a gem in the flow; other days you don’t find anything worth your time.

We can make a lot more out of what we’ve started here if we like. (We’ve been around longer than most Silicon start-ups.)

For example, this is a spot where you can ask questions and seek advice. Why not? Our group’s intimate. We’ll always be a safe place to float new trial balloons out of the limelight

We can help one another find things. You might get the real skinny on a vendor, an event, or a service by talking with someone who knows them from experience. As we grow to trust one another, we will form deeper relationships. Maybe. At least it wouldn’t hurt to post a few questions and see what happens.

We need not continue to be just a place to read funky articles. The network will come to life when some of us use it as a springboard and become connected by phone and skype to start changing the world together. Google makes it easy to set up a Hangout from within the Community.

We would benefit from a larger, more diverse membership. Free thinkers. People on the thin end of the Long Tail. Please promote us on your streams.

Finally, please contribute to the community if you’re good at that type of thing. You got great ideas and stories? Post them. Please share your most exciting, zany projects. You show me yours; I’ll show you mine.

If you have suggestions, post them right here. We are an open community. I’m cutting the balloons loose.

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P.S.

Please join us. people

Project Aha!

Aha! is a set of practices I’m developing to help pull-workers learn to learn. I’m investigating what it takes for a learner to become self-sufficient, to both learn and design learning experiences. I’d like to make that easier.

books

My bookshelves groan under more than 200 books on learning and development. (I’ve recycled many to get down to this.) They contain studies of learning from the frameworks of design, teaching, networks, tech, brain science, and positive psychology. How many books look at learning from the point of view of the learner? None that I know of. Nada. It’s time to design some self-help.

As corporations flatten and digitize, millions of people are being handed responsibility for their own learning, by plan or by default. Corporations that decentralize often leave people to sink or swim. Learning — that ultimate competitive advantage in a fast-changing world — is too important to leave to chance any longer. Besides, learning can be a fulfilling, nourishing aspect of work; folks need to know how to make the best of it.

As business grows ever more complex, fast, and confusing, the quality of learning must increase. Learning professionals know a lot about ideal conditions for learning and what blend of things works when. Rarely have they shared this wisdom with the greater enterprise community. Hence, there are a number of opportuities to tweak how people learn that can have profound changes in the level of “working smarter.” It’s virgin territory. Sharing the wisdom surrounding learning with the people who need it. It can be a game changer.

snoop

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just been told she’s responsible for her own learning. It’s like the dog that got on the bus: Now what do I do? I want to give her a helping hand and a few directions. (My monkey mind just whispered in my ear: Make it a comic book. Who knows.) I want this person to leverage networks, learn with the work team, and have a personal strategy for acquiring, interpreting, acting on, and storing knowledge.

People are becoming forced to act as their own instructional designers, plotting the best personal knowledge strategies and routines. This requires some of adult learning theory’s secret sauce, which we propose to boil down and include in our kit.

In 1978, I remember seeing my first copy of Training magazine and soon thereafter turning on to the work of instructional pioneers like Robert Mager, Gloria Gery, Malcolm Knowles, Joe Harless, and Ron Zemke. It was all new to me. I wasn’t aware there was an entire training industry. We didn’t deal with this when I went to Business School. Instructional design? Never heard of it. Nor have most business executives, and that’s an obstacle. They don’t yet understand the enormous impact of amping up learning in the workplace.

Before I saw that Training magazine, I’d been designing a large instructional system in the dark: I hadn’t been aware of the vast amount of evidence on learning the instructional design community had assembled. (I was a former computer salesman and Army officer.) I led a team that created 120 hours of interactive exercises to teach business and management skills. Design was 100% gut feel and watching what worked. Out of ignorance, I made a number of things less fun and more arduous than need be. That was a 1.0 curriculum, the adult students loved it, but I still feel negligent just knowing how much more it could have meant to them. A thousand people in the Bay Area took that course in the first 18 months; I’m sorry we could not have helped them learn more. Were I to do something like this again, I’d be able to take an enlightened approach. I want to share that how-to with workers everywhere.

The obscurity of Instructional Design outside of the L&D community compels me to provide a brief orientation to ID and a minimalist take on how to use it as part of building learn-to-learn skills.

kin

I plan to write an eBook on learning for learners. Later this may morph into a playlist of experiential exercises; that generally works a lot better than books. But I have to start by pinning down the subject matter and examples.

This will be a Lean Start-Up. I plan to hammer out version 1.0 of the book mercilessly and a little Gonzo. I’ll price it cheap. If learners, not training departments, buy it, I’ll add research, collect the best examples, take polls, spiff it up, and continuously refresh the book.

What’s with the Aha!? I needed a short name for this project. Aha! is the sound of enlightenment. It’s what I hope to hear from the people who learn to learn.

I am open to collaboration on this project. If you’ve got something that works or suggestions, let’s talk.

Who’s the best at helping their people learn?

Do you know of anybody who has tackled preparing independent learners to master complex subjects?

I’ve opened a community on Google+ for articles and discussion. In the spirit of Working Smarter, I intend to work out loud on Aha! Please join in the shouting.

 

 

 

 

 

How many pages of that new book did you read?

capital

According to Business Insider, readers of Capital in the Twenty-first Century made it through just 2.1% of the book on average, with the last highlighted section appearing on page 26.

Other results: Most people have gotten through only an eighth of “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, and only a fifth through “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis.

I’ve been searching for a statistic I used to quote. How many pages does the typical business reader read before quitting? I believe the answer was nine pages!

I cautioned an author recently that he better put his message in those first nine pages if he wants everyone to read it.

I’ve been thinking about writing the sequel to Informal Learning. Informal Learning 2.0? Maybe I should leave pages 10 through 300 blank, for taking notes.

Here’s what Goodreads has to say about unfinished reading:

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Falling behind

fastenough

72% of eighteen Fortune 100 CLOs told me their people are not growing fast enough to keep up with the needs of the business. 

Granted, it’s impossible to predict the future needs of the business in this volatile world, it’s still troubling that most big-company CLOs don’t feel what they’re doing is adequate to prepare the workforce for the future. That’s the job, right?

If what you’re doing isn’t working, you need to do something else. Internet Time Alliance advises CLOs to shift learning out of the classroom and into the workplace, embrace pull learning, get managers on board, focus on business performance, and support continuous learning. It’s more than informal or social learning. I call the package Enterprise Learning.

Faced with the enormity of shifting the organization’s culture to pull, social, sharing, open, beta, fault-tolerant, collaborative, and reflective, many CLOs are dabbling with change rather than taking it on whole hog.

This reminds me of two stories.

Intel’s Craig Barrett said “We’re racing along the highway at 150 MPH and we know there’s a brick wall up ahead but we don’t know where.”

Napoleon told his generals to plant trees bordering each major road out of France to provide shade for marching troops. “But Emperor, it will take decades for the trees to grow to maturity.” Napoleon’s reply: “Better start today.”

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The Puzzler

Help me figure out what’s gone haywire with my Macs. My keyboard has gone wacko.

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Last night I cleaned the Bluetooth keyboard I use with my iMac. The batteries only had 18% juice left, so I replaced them. When I rebooted the iMac, I found I was missing the Space Bar, Delete key, and several individual letters. I figured I’d shorted something out with the cleaner. Luckily, I had a spare wired keyboard to use.

I plugged in the wired keyboard and it displayed the same symptoms! Missing letters, no space bar. The problem seemed to be the iMac, not the keyboards. I spent an hour with Apple on the phone. We were stymied because we couldn’t boot into Safe Mode. That takes a letter R and I no longer have one of those. I resigned myself to slogging into the Genius Bar for a fix.

I pulled an old MacBook out of storage to work with in the interim. I opened up Microsoft Word 98 and began entering text. No problem.

gizmo

I plugged in the wired keyboard. And the same damned thing happened again! No space bar, delete, R, S, etc.

It’s extremely unlikely that two keyboards would self-destruct at the same time. Similarly, I can’t imagine the iMac and the MacBook having exactly the same issue; their operating systems are generations apart. Keyboard logger? I don’t think so because the MacBook gave garbled text before I logged it into my network for the first time in a year.

I can’t come up with a logical explanation for this nor can I find any advice online.

Please drop me a line if you can figure this one out. I’ll be impressed.

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I’ve been depressed. You?

vangogh1I’ve been depressed. 

Telling you this will blow my chances of running for president, but what the hell: I have been clinically depressed for the last two years. It’s a form of going crazy. I lost interest in my work, stopped blogging and taking photos. I became a near-hermit. 

dogI want to share my experiences with you so that if the black dog visits you or one of your friends, you’ll recognize it for what it is and take appropriate action. No one deserves to go through life feeling shitty and that’s precisely what depression can do to you. Everything is gloomy. Nothing seems worthwhile. Yet this condition is treatable.

Before going on, let me explain that I am no longer depressed. Hallelujah! I have found my cure and have returned to my normal jovial set-point. Let’s grab a beer sometime.

How do you recognize depression? Lots of us are sad. Pollsters tell us more than half of all workers are disengaged. Many jobs are gone forever; PhDs are pouring the lattes at Starbucks. DoD is in an intractable war with Muslims. The maw between rich and poor widens daily. Technology has accelerated the business cycle into a frenzied pace few can maintain. There’s plenty of sadness to go around.

Depression is more than sadness, however. It doesn’t have a target. It’s irrational and self-destructive. When my last episode came on two years ago, I could sense pulling down the shades on optimism. I was slower, weaker, and lacked energy and the ability to focus. It was physical (the juices in my head) and mental (the belief-set that controls my interpretation of the world).

The acid test: Do you think of taking your life? If you think yes, go to the doctor. Get help. You’re depressed. Or maybe you have a suppressed anxiety disorder (I did.) These two often go hand in hand. Happily, both get better with the same treatment. You’ll recognize you’re getting better when suicide disappears as an option.

My neurologist will tell you that depression is a neurological condition. No amount of trying hard and talk therapy is going to change it, any more than they’ll heal broken bones. Here, take these blue pills and if that doesn’t work, we have some yellow ones. Of course, it makes sense to follow general principles of good health: get enough sleep and exercise.

My cognitive behavioral psychologist tells our therapy group that drugs are largely ineffective. This is psychological condition. Emotions are the products of thinking. Get your thinking straight and your feelings will follow. Let’s look at what’s really going on. Got that? Say it back to me.

Stanford’s David Burns is the author of Feeling Good and cognitive behavioral therapy’s leading advocate. Watch this video not only to understand Burns’ work but to cry your eyes out at the surprise ending.

A few months ago the cloud of doom lifted from my shoulders. I was no longer eternally bummed out. The depression was fading away. 

I dropped out of the therapy group which was beginning to wear on my nerves by this point anyway. Then the psychologist and I agreed I no longer needed his treatment.

My restoration to normalcy is the result of a lot of people, a lot of reading, and a lot of pushing the boulder up the hill. However, I attribute 95% of my change in mood to drugs.

Pills-300x126

During an episode similar to this twenty years ago, Prozac did nothing for me but Zoloft restored me for years. Two years ago, I re-tried Zoloft but had grown immune to it.

The doctor and I dropped into a rhythm of taking a few weeks to build up to a proper dose of a drug, try it long enough to know it’s not working, then take a few more weeks to wean and clean out the system for the next round. Again and again and again.

In the last four years, I’ve been prescribed these drugs for depression and/or ADHD.

  • Wellbutrin
  • Straterra
  • Nuvigil
  • Zoloft
  • Effexor
  • Latuda
  • Abilify
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Dexedrine
  • Adderall
  • Provigil
  • Brintellix
  • Vibryd
  • L-Tyosin
  • Selegiline
  • Sertaline
  • Venlafxine

None of them did anything positive. Zilch! I was running low on hope after years of fruitless drug testing, but I remembered how Zoloft had once turned my life around.

“There’s one more drug to try,” said my neurologist. “It’s rarely used these days but it was actually the first anti-depressant. It can interact with your diet, for instance you can’t eat fermented foods. It’s called Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAO-I.

Wikipedia reports:

Because of potentially lethal dietary and drug interactions, monoamine oxidase inhibitors have historically been reserved as a last line of treatment, used only when other classes of antidepressant drugs (for example selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants) have failed.[2] New research into MAOIs indicates that much of the concern over their dangerous dietary side effects stems from misconceptions and misinformation, and that despite proven effectiveness of this class of drugs, it is underutilized and misunderstood in the medical profession.[3] New research also questions the validity of the perceived severity of dietary reactions, which has historically been based on outdated research.[4]

The reason most of the restrictions on diet are bunk is that MAOIs can now be delivered with a patch, thus bypassing the liver. The current regulations were set for pills, not patches.

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Every evening I peel off the old patch, leaving a red mark behind for a day or two. I apply a new one to the other arm. Every morning I awake with a smile. This stuff works for me.

PatientsLikeMe has reports from people who have used these various drugs. What works wonders for one person sends the next screaming to the toilet.

My message for depression sufferers is to keep trying. The latest research recommends trying both drug and CBT treatment as well as community activity. See what works for you.

We who have wrestled the black dog seriously are sort of a secret society. Lots of people I’ve talked to begin with, “Yeah, when I was going through that….” All are open to helping one another. There’s camaraderie among people who have been there. Ask for advice. You’ll be surprised at how commonplace this is.