Today, Bell Canada is doing their Let's Talk campaign, which is striving to take away the shame and silence that often comes with depression and mental illness.
Clara Hughes is involved for the second year in a row. You might not be aware of this lady if you're outside of Canada, so just a quick review: she's a six time Olympic medalist. Six. Oh, and they are from both the summer and winter games. Cycling and speed skating.
She has natural red hair. She has sparkling green eyes and a big stunning, joyful, honest smile with a cute little gap between her front teeth. She's obviously got the the body of an Olympian. And she's been very open about the depression she dealt with after her first Olympic win.
You know, I've been told over and over that exercise is really good for beating depression, so yeah, I was pretty flattened to hear that an elite athlete battled with it too! Man, what hope do the rest of us have?
Well, I think it's one of those things that doesn't really care who it hits.
In her case, the letdown after reaching that huge goal was devastating.
We all have our own story. I think it's so important to share our stories because we are not alone. We aren't weak. We feel alone and weak but we're not.
A doctor on TV this week made a very important point: don't ask somebody you suspect is depressed "what's wrong" because how the hell can that be answered? If I knew what was wrong, I'd do something about it myself!!!! It's too difficult to pinpoint it, so just ask. Is there a chance you've got some depression? Would you consider going to see your doctor? Can I take you out for a walk? Want me to buy some groceries for you?
Because the worst thing to do is... nothing. Someone dealing with this should not be hanging around in that state, and it's next to impossible to get out of it alone.
Never be ashamed to ask for help. I was. I probably could have gotten help years earlier, but I put all the effort into "normalizing" and putting on the functional face just to get through a day. My own family didn't know how bad it was. I didn't even.
So don't bother trying to be "okay." I'm a big believer in feeling how you are feeling. It's what it is. And here's the thing: it doesn't have to be permanent!
I'll tell you right now how my mental state is:
I am sleeping pretty well. I go to bed early, take at least half an hour to get ready for bed, and read for awhile. Say goodnight to my kids. Turn off the light. Talk to my husband. Talk to God. Pat the snoring Pug and close my eyes.
I still don't like waking up but I do it.
I have medication that works. Yay!
I don't have three naps a week anymore. Sometimes I can get through a week without a nap at all!
I take care of my horses every day, and I cherish them. I am actually enjoying the physical work involved! It's been a long time since I felt that way. I have killer biceps and you know what, I am kind of proud of my physical strength.
I have the Official Best Pshrink Ever. I see him ever week or two. I got an ADHD diagnosis, which is beginning to explain a lot about me. It really helps to talk it all out, sort through anything on my mind, figure out how I can make my life better. He's there to listen and guide. And I don't have to tell anybody else what I talk about in that room.
I still believe we should stop saying "Crazy" like it's a bad thing.
I still cry a lot but sometimes it's not from being so deeply sad, but because I feel everything, and it's just the way I am.
To be totally honest, because that's what I'm doing here, I have pretty much drawn my life into a very small focus. I don't go out much or call people, I don't even blog as much as I used to, but it's not from withdrawing from life -- it's that I am absolutely focussed on my own quality of life and my own family. It's what I have to do right now. I believe my kids are better off for it and I feel pretty alright about that. I hope I make sure my friends know I still love them and I know for sure I'll be the life of the party again!
I laugh vigorously every day and it is fantastic.
So there you go. Getting hit by mental illness is not something to be ashamed of, it doesn't mean you're weak, it doesn't have to define you, and it doesn't mean you'll be miserable forever. It'll come and go. You'll find ways to deal with it and you'll figure out how and when to ask for help. You're still breathing and you're still talking.
Keep up the good work!