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Spotlight Iowa City: Coming through the struggles

BY NORA HEATON | APRIL 13, 2010 7:30 AM

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UI senior Jordan Tivers would classify his childhood as “abnormal.”

Ridden with what he said was a dysfunctional family situation, he remembers suffering from depression and anxiety for years, weighed down by his relationship with his mother, witnessing his parents’ divorce, and keeping secret his father’s homosexuality for two years.

But Tivers eventually realized happiness was within his grasp.

Last summer, he took time to face those difficult issues.

Tivers had an eye-opening conversation with his father, in which the two emotionally confronted the past of their family. He now calls his father his best friend.

He also confronted his mother and said he was able to break free from the “prison cell” of the past and move into the open future.

And on one particularly emotional day, July 26, 2009, Tivers said his life really changed.

He penned the first lines of his book, with its working title When It Is My Time, which details events in his life from childhood to the present and how he overcame obstacles to happiness.

The 22-year-old didn’t hold back.

“If you want to be true to your readers, you have to be truthful about what you’re writing about,” he said. “I want my story to be real. I wrote everything — it’s all in there. If I don’t say it, who’s going to?”

Though mostly written by Tivers, his father, a psychotherapist, contributed some chapters on his personal view of the family and a clinical perspective on the instability of his son’s childhood.

“I’ve seen him turn into a young man who’s very visionary and can look at what real, healthy happiness is,” said Rick Tivers. “He really wants to affect people in a very positive way, given the depression and anxiety he’s been through. He’s got a heart of gold.”

Tivers’ close personal friend from high school, 22-year-old Eric Grant, agreed.

“It’s a fabulous book that can definitely help people,” said Grant, who read and gave Tivers advice on drafts of the book. “I’m proud that he was able to overcome what was ailing him.”

But that personal growth wasn’t easy. Both Jordan Tivers and his father dug out their own personal demons to place on the pages of the book in hopes that readers might be inspired by their stories.

The story doesn’t stop at publishing (Tivers has some deals in the works). Tivers and his father plan to give a motivational lecture series, in which they will share their story and inspire others to seek help for depression and anxiety and learn how to live authentically.

Not everyone can directly relate to the experiences Tivers details in his work. But relatability extends further than circumstances, he said.

“Most people can relate to at least one thing we talk about in the book,” he said. “If I have one kid say, ‘Thank you,’ that will be the most rewarding thing I could ever ask for.”

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