Tuesday 3 January 2012

"A Gold Medal-Worthy Challenge"

My heroes have never been athletes or actors or rock stars. I have always most admired every day people who have overcome adversity: Terry Fox and Rick Hanson are two of my all time biggest heroes. In my saddest moments I have often thought, if Rick Hansen can wheel around the world then I can make it to tomorrow.

An exception to my unofficial rule is Clara Hughes. Clara has competed in multiple Olympic Games, both summer and winter, and is the only athlete in Olympic history to win multiple medals in both. There is no question that she is a world class athlete and has been a hero to many Canadians for many years. Like everyone else, I have seen her compete and win her medals. While I had admired her accomplishments, her dedication to her goals, and what seemed like an unwavering positive attitude, it wasn't until 2011 that she made it to my list of heroes. That was when she partnered with Bell and became an advocate for mental illness. She spoke out about her struggles at a time when I was suffering at a level of pain that I had never felt before. Her honesty provided me with comfort and inspiration when I needed it most. So Clara, welcome to my list of heroes!

When I think of Clara Hughes the first thing that comes to mind, after her Olympic achievements, is her big smile. Here is someone who seemed to have the world by the tail and it turns out that for awhile, she didn't. But here's the thing, mental illness does not discriminate - rich, poor, successful or not, it can strike. Other public figures who have openly discussed their struggles with mental illness are Sheryl Crow, Jim Carrey, Brooke Shields, Princess Diana, journalist Jane Pauley, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and Harrison Ford. No - not Indiana Jones, too! Yes, it's true.

But add to the list above all the "regular folk" - your neighbour, the person who works two cubicles over from you, your dentist, your daughter's ninth grade classmate. The people who are fighting depression and anxiety every day. Maybe you? The ones who, day after day, fight their own personal battles against depression and anxiety. They are all my heroes, too. Because when you are depressed, every day that you make it through is a victory - every day is a gold medal-worthy challenge.

KB xo

It's January and all the excitement and stress, good and bad, of the holiday season is over. It's also the month that the holiday bills start to arrive and the realities of overindulging are starting to set in. Here are some things to ask yourself if you think you might be experiencing more than a seasonal case of the blues:

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.
  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual
  • you’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)

If you are suffering from depression please remember that you are not alone. Ask for help from family, friends and medical professionals. And look for inspiration. Sometimes you find it where you didn't think you would.

P.S. For more information about Clara Hughes's Olympic achievements and struggles with depression please check out her official website: www.clara-hughes.com

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