Today, in Canada, it’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness and putting a face to depression and mental illness. In that spirit, my first ever blog will be about my depression.

Last August, after a series of injuries and illness, I was feeling as low as I had ever felt. At the time, I thought I was just feeling the effects of months of bad luck. Then, on August 15th, I heard that Rick Rypien had committed suicide after battling depression for years. For reasons I can’t explain, I suddenly knew that what I was feeling was clinical depression. I also knew that I had, in fact, been struggling with depression for more than 20 years. A little bit of research had me convinced, but I was not yet willing to do anything about it. Unfortunately things only got worse from there. I would start crying at work, for no reason. I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat, and the smallest of things would bother me for days. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop eating, and I often felt incredibly powerful urges to hurt myself. I was truly miserable, and although I did not seriously consider suicide, I felt that life was not worth living.

Now if you know me at all, you know that my life revolves around my daughters and my wife. I am truly blessed when it comes to family, but even that couldn’t pull me out of the pits of despair I was feeling. Although I had not considered suicide, I began to understand why so many people with depression take their lives. It has nothing to do with TV’s over-cliched “you have so much to live for”. It’s simply a fact that depression HURTS! It is all consuming, and it is incredibly draining. I really can no longer criticize anyone dealing with it for ending their life.

In November I finally approached my doctor about what I was experiencing. He confirmed that I was experiencing depression, and began the healing process with medication. He also recommended counselling, meditation, and exercise. This has helped. Life has a way of kicking you in the balls when you feel like crap, so it’s an ongoing struggle. I still have some very bad days, but I am learning to cope. And I am truly optimistic.

I have had several people tell me that I am the funniest person they have ever met. Those same people are usually in complete disbelief when I state my mental illness. “You?” they say, “But you’re always so happy.” I think that when my brain is in good shape, and everything is in balance, I am a truly jovial person. I can see the good in the bad, and I can laugh (and usually) do, at anything. That is the most real thing about me. When depression grabs a hold of me, I can still laugh and smile – I think it’s  instinct – but even the “funniest people” can suffer mental illness. After all, 1 in 5 do.

From the Bell Let’s Talk website: (http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/participate.php)

What are symptoms of depression?

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy
  • You are tired all the time and don’t have any energy
  • You find it hard to concentrate
  • You don’t want to eat or eat too much
  • You are sad and easily upset
  • You have lost or gained a considerable amount of weight

There are more symptoms so if you, or anyone you know, is experiencing any or all these, please seek professional advice. It does help!

I am getting better. I’ve gone through a very rough patch lately, no doubt made worse by my depression, but I now have a few tools that help me cope. Sometimes I have to remember that old saying “This too shall pass”, for that is all I have to hold on to at times.

I think the only thing that really scares me about all this is the fact that I will likely always have depression. It may not always be evident, but it will always be right there, under the surface, waiting to bubble up. I remind myself that it could be worse! I have two amazing daughters, a wonderful wife, and some incredible friends who will be there for me to lean on if I have to.

I just hope that’s enough.

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