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Collateral Beauty

Guest Author: Sam

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

Looking back at the past two years now, I am able to reflect on some of the struggles I’ve dealt with.

Depression doesn’t just make you feel down for a few days, it can knock the wind out of you for months and even years on end. For me, two years ago, I was in a very dark place and was at the end of the tunnel with no light to be found.

Sometimes, it takes people who understand you picking you up when you fall down, and for me those people were my brother and Michael. Up until now, even when feeling good, I’ve dealt with the fear of depression’s worst blows coming back to haunt me. I’ve also been wondering why I have to go through the struggle of wondering if I’ll ever just feel normal again.

“Why do I have to deal with this disease?”

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, I went to my therapist after a hard week and it changed everything for me. One question I asked was, “Why do I have to deal with this disease?” Depression has knocked me down, taken the life out of me, and at some points, had me wishing I wasn’t even living.

“Why do I and so many people get dealt this shitty card?”

My therapist responded with words that have changed my outlook on life: “It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you deal them.” Simple words, I know, but it’s easy to forget that as a community we’re in this for each other, and by sharing our story we’re helping each other deal with this battle we fight every day. He also told me about this look on life known as collateral beauty, whenever there’s a tragedy, so many people focus on the negatives, however nobody pays much attention to all the people who come out to help the people suffering.

On January 31, millions around the country and so many of us battling depression, rallied around supporting each other and raising awareness for mental health. It’s amazing how so many of us, despite dealing with this horrible disease, have been able to put so much back into trying to raise mental health awareness and support each other, it’s also great to see so many politicians, athletes, celebrities and anyone with a big platform sharing their stories and using their platform to help.

Depression is not a weakness.

I know when times get hard, it’s difficult to look at the big picture, but we have to recognize we’re #SickNotWeak, depression is not a weakness, we can get help, and we’re all in this together. Two years ago, I almost was down for the count, but in the last second, I got up and gave depression a right hook to the jaw. Today, I’m still fighting, but I’m glad I’m still here, I got to see my sister get married in December and it was one of the happiest experiences of my life.

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Margie
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Having suffered from depression at various times in my life, I feel like I’ve been on a steep learning curve. I’m always seeing a new aspect of it. My first experience with it was in 1969 when my husband and I were grad students in the U.S. with 2 very young children. I took a teaching job with a school in an inner city trying to teach street kids who were non readers and called me every name in the book. I had a knife pulled on me, was called f…ing honkey daily….etc. I used my ace card…being Canadian…to get out of danger as no one from kids to profs knew what that meant. I quit after a couple of months and thought I would recover .It didn’t happen. I went from full blown paralyzing depression to panic attacks to phobias, back to depression. There were no antidepressants then so I suffered. Even counsellors had very little knowledge of the illness. When we came back to Canada we bought a farm, grew our own vegetables and restored the old house. I even took a job teaching kindergarten…a far cry from the inner city..and enjoyed life for the first time in a long while. I had a mother-in-law from hell but could even ward her off. When we decided to relocate farther north I took a job teaching kids that I wasn’t prepared for….again. In a few months I crashed for the second time and because it was now 1993, there was more known about depression and I was diagnosed with PTSD. Call it a new name but it’s still depression. This was the first time that I decided to fight this hideous disease. I put myself in the hospital in the psych ward against the better judgement of my family and doctor. I wasn’t getting better just staying home and being in bed all day and we had flight arrangements to go to California and have Christmas with our son. I took on this illness and decided I was going to go on the trip and was determined to feel better about it. I was given antidepressants right away and had to wait that one out. The night before we were supposed to fly out it started to kick in. My therapist was really good at interpreting my thoughts and said that I had to go to the very bottom of the well before I tried to claw my way out. That is exactly how I felt. I remember thinking that it would be hard but I tried. As I navigated around airports and hoped I wouldn’t get a panic attach, I started to feel that I wasn’t letting this depression beat me or make feel worthless. I was doing something to help myself. That was a big deal for me. I hadn’t won the war but I’d won a major battle. I’m retired now and my m-i-l isn’t around to remind me of my rebelliousness, but I still get some bad days. All the old triggers are gone; but the disease is still somewhere in my neurophysiology. I’ve learned a lot about it and am now able to talk openly about it. The drug industry has so many meds to take for it: however I worry that sufferers aren’t getting all the information that would help them conquer this very insidious condition. I’m not afraid of it anymore.

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