Author’s Note: I originally wrote and posted this to my Facebook on April 29, 2015. I don’t remember what compelled me to write it, but I felt it was important for me to share it with my 190 Facebook friends. After posting it, I received a lot of support and appreciation for what I shared. I thought that if they appreciated my openness and honesty that I may be able to help a wider audience with my words. I felt that today, Bell Let’s Talk Day, would be the appropriate time to share my story with you in the hope that I can help at least one person get the help they need.
I’d like to be open and honest for a moment.
In October of 2003, I was diagnosed with Major (a.k.a. Clinical) depression. The previous April, I had graduated with honours from the Print Journalism program at Lethbridge (Community) College and had a three-week practicum at the Lethbridge Herald that past May. At the end of my practicum, I found myself not wanting to continue pursuing a career in Journalism, my main reasons being that I did not wish to relocate to find a job and that forcing myself to interview sources for news stories on a regular basis gave me great anxiety since I am incredibly shy when meeting new people. So, I took a full-time job at a nearby corner grocery store as a cashier to give me a source of income and I continued to live at home with my folks.
I felt like a failure.
That summer, I immersed myself into work, making friends with my co-workers and people I started meeting online through a site called LiveJournal. I also immersed myself more into the relationship I had with my boyfriend at the time, who moved back home for the summer in Calgary. So I was dealing with life as an adult, working minimum wage even though I had just obtained an honours Journalism diploma, while trying to make a long-distance relationship work. The summer went on, the August long weekend came, and my boyfriend came to town to end our relationship. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that I was devastated.
In the weeks that followed, I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into a dark hole. I had lost a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to find meaningful employment, I felt that no one would ever love me again, I hated everyone around me, and life just sucked. I went through the motions of day-to-day life, often shutting myself away in my parents’ computer room playing endless games of The Sims while listening to music.
One day, I sat down in front of my mother at the kitchen table, and through tears I choked out the words “I need to go to the psych ward or I am not going to be here much longer.” An appointment with my GP was scheduled where I was diagnosed, given a prescription for antidepressants, told to take a month off of work, and I started seeing a therapist.
My battle was hard and slow at first, but things got better. The month I took off from my cashier job helped me take a step back and re-evaluate my life. For a while, I tried to win back the heart of my ex-boyfriend, and when my affections were not returned, I delegated him to the scum of the earth, which really was not fair of me because of what I was going through. It’s definitely one of the things I am not proud of myself for doing since I clearly was the one having problems. Good call on his part.
Eventually I went back to work, started dating again, had other jobs, moved out of my parents’ house, and experienced life. I stopped taking my medication about a year later and only had to go back on it once since then.
I am currently not on anti-depressants and I don’t see a therapist anymore, but I still have depression. The occasions when my depression affects my life occur less and less. There have been times in the past when my depression has affected my job security, and I have taken jobs that made my depression worse. My job working at the Convergys call centre was one of them.
My choices control my life, and by realizing that for myself is why I have worked very hard in the last five years to get to where I am today. I have meaningful employment that gives me great satisfaction. I have a devoted and loving husband that understands and supports me through my ups and downs. We have a beautiful daughter — the daughter that I have wanted for the past 15 years. We don’t have a huge debt load (my student loans are shrinking!) and we live comfortably and are thankful for what we have. I have a wonderful life!
But I didn’t write all this to just turn into an annoying brag. I wrote this to show that you don’t know who does and does not have depression because of its silence. I’ve felt it necessary to conceal my depression in jobs I’ve had in the past because I was taking yet another sick day, blaming it on a “migraine”. I recently read a story on my Facebook feed about a paramedic in Edmonton who took his life because he was dealing with depression and PTSD. Afterward, actions were taken to give help and support to affected members living in silence because they thought they appeared less “macho” if they talked about having depression. More support needs to be given, more talking needs to happen, and more needs to be done.
I’m one voice. Not many can hear me, but you just did. Please help to keep the conversation going. Please help to end the stigma. I was able to get help because I felt very lost and had family members who had been through the same thing. Some don’t have family members or friends with a history of depression… or maybe they do. If you have depression, be brave and tell a trusted family member or friend. It may help them do the same, and it may help them get the help they need. Being alone and having depression is a horrible feeling. I want lives to be saved. I want those with depression to see that it does get better, but you need to reach out and ask for the help you need, because others may never see the signs showing that you are dealing with depression.