When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”- Author Unknown
Although I am by no means an expert on my illness, depression, after 20 years I have learnt a lot about it. But I heard someone say something on February 12th that provided me a new level of comfort. It was Olympian Clara Hughes. Clara said that she thinks about depression on a day to day basis. Some days are good for her and some days are bad. So why did that rather ordinary statement resonate with me? Because every time that I have heard her speak about her experience (she fell into a deep depression after the Atlanta Olympic Games), it's been in the past tense. I had the impression that it was something that had happened to her but was now gone.
The reality for many of us who fight this illness is that it is never really gone. This is certainly the case for me. I have suffered two major depressive episodes, years apart, along with mild to moderate depression. Currently I would rate myself in the mild category. Yes, it's true.
A few weeks back I wrote about why it's important for me to monitor my moods and my symptoms. I wrote why it's important to understand the difference between "feeling" depressed and actually "being" depressed. Well, my symptoms have persisted for a few weeks now. I am sharing this for a few reasons. Firstly, I made a commitment to you and to myself to be honest. Secondly, Clara's words had a profound effect on me. They reminded me that I am not alone and that others are on the same journey. Kind of ironic, really. Me, who reminds all of you that YOU are not alone, could use a reminder that I am not alone. Hmm. Every day holds a new lesson if you are open to it.
Now before I get any worried emails, I will be fine and I am fine. I am taking my medication like clockwork, I am engaging with my friends and family, and I am continuing to place one foot in front of the other. This is simply another chapter in the story of depression. In my story of depression.
The day that was dedicated to discussion about mental illness has come and gone. The new challenge is in continuing the conversation. Want to be able to say that you and Olympian Clara Hughes have something in common? Then help take up the cause and talk about mental illness in Canada. There many not be a gold medal in it for you but the reward will be invaluable.
P.S. Here is a reminder of some of my favourite things in my mental health toolkit:
- talking to my mom
- talking to my best friend
- listening to music (Spice Girls 'Wannabe' is always good!)
- reading a great book or a decorating magazine
- a delicious cup of coffee
- a walk by the water
- going to a movie with my dad
- a hug from my brother
- the sound my niece's and my nephew's voices
- a piece (or five!) of chocolate
- watching a silly sitcom
What's in your mental health toolkit? Don't have one? Maybe you should create one...