Floating at sea without any bearings

Guest Author: Phil

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

Hey! My name is Phil. I’m a 28-year-old living in Montreal. The following is a preview of a longer blog article I wrote about my experience with depression & suicidality, which can be read in its entirety at

The segments below are simply some parts of the article that I felt were most pertinent for the shorter format on this site. Please note that I don’t benefit in any way from you going to read my blog; it’s simply there to help people like you. I want to thank you for coming to read this; I’m really hoping you can get something out of it.

My purpose here: quite simply, I am writing this piece with a service mindset. I want to use my personal story to demonstrate how pervasive (and often silent) mental illness is, and what it’s capable of. I want to emphasize the notion that so many people suffer in silence, and that many others are in denial about either their own illness, or the pervasiveness of mental illness in general. Everyone has either had some form of mental illness themselves, or knows someone who has. Despite initiatives like Let’s Talk, there’s still a ton of stigma, and not much education on how to handle mental illness.

I am writing this to serve others.

This is not self-promotional. I am writing this to serve others, exploiting my personal story to help normalize the idea of mental illness. Even something as common as depression is often seen with a “them, not me” mentality, which simply isn’t valid. Hopefully by telling my story, it’ll seem closer to home for some people.

We tend to hide behind façades and social superficialities, pretending to be fine, or not wanting to appear weak or abnormal. Our pride and ego often get in the way of opening up, so I hope that by stripping everything back from my darkest time, maybe you’ll feel that you can too.

From the summer of 2012 until Christmas of 2014, I worked in engineering; I never really wanted to, but I felt as though I had to at least give it a shot, rather than “waste” my degree. Predictably, I was generally unhappy and “comfortably” depressed throughout. That last bit might sound strange to some people, but that’s why depression is dangerous; it seems benign until it’s not. Occasionally through this period, I had very subtle suicidal thoughts, mostly contemplative (e.g. “I wonder what would happen if I died”; “how would I be remembered if I died,” “what would it take to go through with it”).

That’s why depression is dangerous; it seems benign until it’s not.

After some back and forth, it was decided that I would be admitted to the psychiatric ward there, until they deemed it safe for me to be released. At the time, that’s what I really wanted; I had a childish hope that somehow it might save me, or that they could “fix” me. In some ways it did, but in other ways it was also a horrible experience. I ended up being in that ward for five days and five nights. It’s pretty difficult to explain what it’s like to have your freedom stripped away from you. Not just because your dignity is taken away, but also because you feel caged.

I want to try to explain what depression felt like for me; how I experienced all of it. The point of this is to give some insight to people who have never experienced it, or to give some point of comparison for those who have. Depression & suicidality are very intertwined, but I will describe them separately.

You can’t point to depression like you can point to a broken arm.

To me, depression was just a slow, grinding process (as it is for most people). As I mentioned above, it started in 2012, and was insidious from that point on. It stayed with me, often in the background. I was basically in complete denial about it, until 2016 when I had no choice but to face it. The problem is, you can’t point to depression like you can point to a broken arm and say “there it is.” You feel shitty, but eventually that shittiness becomes your version of normal, so you aren’t sure what you’re dealing with. You’re floating at sea without any bearings. So many people live with that kind of depression for years, or their entire lives, because they don’t even know it’s happening to them (and yes, TO them).

Thanks for reading this! As I said, there is much more to be read (which couldn’t fit here) at I hope it can help you if you’re in a dark place. Never give up.



You nailed it. I’ll be sharing this one with friends and family. Thank you.

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