Category: Depression

Let’s Talk

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Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk day. For every text, call, tweet and Instagram post, Facebook video view and use of Snapchat geofilter, Bell contributes 5 cents to mental health initiatives. The whole point is to overcome the stigma that is attached to mental health.

I thought today would be a good day to talk about mental health, being that literally all of Canada is talking about it. We ALL have someone in our lives that is affected by their mental health. You may not know that these people are hurting, but I guarantee you that someone in your immediate circle of contact is struggling with a mental illness, with depression, with a constant inner battle that they are too afraid to speak up about.

Well today, I’m going to speak up about my inner battle. I never really struggled with my mental health until a couple years ago. When I woke up from being sedated for a couple days and was told about my new diagnosis, my world was shattered. I remember at one point, the doctor coming into my room and saying “Every time I come in your room, you look so sad.” REALLY!!? You mean people lose major organs, are told their lives will be forever changed, and come out of this smiling a week later? They sent in a social worker to come see me once. That was it. I needed someone to come talk to me and help me sort out what had just happened.

We need to talk about mental health and how our health care system is seriously lacking in this area! We need counsellors, social workers, and psychiatrists to seriously be following people who have been diagnosed with detrimental illnesses, who’ve been in major accidents, who’ve had medical emergencies that have changed their lives overnight. We need a system that will care when someone comes into the emergency room saying that they’ll harm themselves if they go home. We need a health care system that will treat mental health as seriously as they treat our physical health.

Real talk – the last (almost) two years I have struggled with depression. I’ve said this before, and it’ll be something I’m sure I’ll say for a long time, but I really miss my old life. It’s hard to not compare what my life is like now to what it used to be. It’s easy for me to paste a smile on my face and pretend like I’m doing ok emotionally, but to be honest, most days I’m not. I honestly don’t even know how to put into words how I struggle with this every day. But just know, that when I say that I’m struggling with depression, it’s not just me being sad or feeling sorry for myself, but these dark moments are affecting every aspect of my life. I have finally decided to talk to my doctors about it. I realized that there is no shame in struggling with depression and that taking care of my mental health will only help me take even better care of my physical health.

So there it is. Out for the world to know. I think I’ve only mentioned this struggle with a handful of people. But I’m hoping that in being honest with all of you, that if you’re also struggling with your mental health, whatever form that may take on, that you’ll also talk to someone. Message me, even if we don’t know each other. Talk to your doctor. Call 911 or your local Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call a friend. No one will you think you are any worse because you’re struggling with this. Just please get help.

#BellLetsTalk

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Is There a Time Limit on Grief?  

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I’ve learnt over the years that we not only grieve when somebody in our lives die, but that it’s natural to grieve any form of loss in our lives. Of course we grieve when people near and dear to us die. The world has grieved the loss of many celebrities this year. We grieve as we see the devastations happening around the world – both natural and man-made. We grieve the end of relationships and friendships. Grieving the end of a chapter in our lives, the end of a good vacation, even the end of a really good book.

The question I want to ask is, is there a time limit to how long we’re allotted to grieve? Are we given just a few months and then expected to move on? Only allowed to relive the empty space that was once filled by said person, event or thing on the anniversary of its death?

I’ve been grieving the loss of my health for the last year and eight months. Now, for those of you who have never had major health issues, you probably think I should have moved on by now, right? For any of you who have had your diagnosis for the entirety of your life or from a very young age, maybe you’ll give me more time, but you may also think that at a certain point I need to put on my big girl pants and get on with it. But those of you who had good health and then fell ill, losing such a huge portion of your life, you understand what I mean when I say I’m still grieving.

I know I’ve broached this subject before, I probably will again to be honest, but for the first time in months I finally feel like writing again. Why you ask? Because I’m still grieving. This all still hurts. And it’s so much easier to crawl back in my hole than to try and make you all understand how it feels.

For the majority of people with any sort of chronic illness or pain, winter is awful! I live in Canada and although winter solstice is right around the corner, we still only have sun for a maximum of 8 hours a day at the moment. It gets very depressing when there are many days where it’s very gloomy and we don’t see the sun for days at a time. And the days when it is sunny, it’s extremely cold. Everything hurts because of the cold and the damp weather. It hurts just to wear the heavy coats and layers of clothing. If it’s bad weather I’m stuck in the house. Even on nice days, to take my daughter out takes an exorbitant amount of energy just to get us both bundled up to go outside.

I’m reminded on a daily basis of what I once had. The holidays make it well known to me that I am still very sick. I spend the rest of my day exhausted and in pain if I decide to take a couple hours to bake or go do my Christmas shopping. I have had to turn down parties knowing I need to save my energy for other events. I’m not even able to go see my family this year because the travel will cost me too much for the short amount of time I’d be able to spend with them.

I think all of this still part of the grieving process. It’s hard to shake the sadness off. I’m forcing myself to get out of the house, to shower, to get dressed. All things people who grieve struggle with on a daily basis.

I literally can’t go a single day without being reminded of what I’ve lost. Some days are easier than others. Will I ever have a day that I don’t feel sadness? Jealousy of others living without an illness? Anger that this all happened to me? No clue. But I know that I’m not giving up. I will trudge through this. And I will take all the time I need. I refuse to put a timeline on my grieving.

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Why Being Disabled Isn’t a Tragedy, but Having Huge Parts of Your Life Stripped Away Is

There’s been a big debate going on over social media the last couple days about the book turned movie, Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. If you don’t want to know how the story ends, you may not want to read this entry.

The premise of the story is a man who was into extreme sports, had an accident, and became a paraplegic. This woman starts to work as his support worker, they fall in love, but in the end he decides to opt for assisted suicide.

People are boycotting this movie because they think it’s showing having a disability as being tragic. I don’t think that’s what Moyes is portraying in her story at all. It’s not the being disabled that’s tragic, it’s having everything you love doing taken away that’s catastrophic.

The male lead in this story was a man’s man. Burly. Athletic. Dangerous. Now he relies on someone else to simply brush his teeth. In his eyes, his dignity has been stripped from him.

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Imagine being a singer and your vocal chords are damaged – never to sing again. An artist whose arms have been amputated – never to paint again. Or a foodie, wannabe chef home cook with ischemic bowels thought never to eat again. Enter your passion and an accident that would rob it all from you – wouldn’t that be absolutely devastating? Your passions, hobbies, even your work, everything is all of a sudden limited or taken away from you completely. When all your life you’ve been told that anything is possible, now all of a sudden so many things that are impossible.

I was originally told I would never eat or drink again due to the removal of my small intestine and a third of my large. I LOVE my food. I love cooking, eating and hosting dinner parties. I’ve dreamt of opening a restaurant, teaching my kids to cook, and of course competing on Chopped Canada (which let’s be honest, I’m nowhere good enough of a cook to ever be on that show). I loved having people over and cooking for them and with thinking I would never eat or drink again, would I really want to cook meals for other people and not be able to partake? I’m a dreamer and these were only a few of the ones on my heart. But after my first diagnosis, my dreams came crashing down.

After my diagnosis, I went to a really dark place. I was extremely depressed. A huge portion of my life was all of a sudden gone. And I was beyond devastated.

So instead of seeing this movie as making disabilities portrayed as a tragic thing, what if we see it as dealing with a situational depression? There’s so much talk about depression and how it’s a part of a disease. Would people think of this movie differently if we saw it from that perspective? That his suicide isn’t because of the disability itself but because of the loss correlated with becoming disabled.

It takes time to adjust to the new normal after an accident or a diagnosis. Some people adjust more easily than others. Some aren’t able to adjust at all. If it wasn’t for having to take care of my daughter, there’s no way I would get out of bed. She helped me get out of my depression. Not everyone is lucky enough to have someone or something to fight for. And when all you do is compare your now to your past, it’s HARD! Always thinking of the things you loved to do, that you never will get to do again.

You still don’t want to go see the movie? Fine. But don’t belittle those of us who do see becoming disabled as tragic. Again, it’s not the disability itself that breaks us; it’s our past that we loved and lost that we mourn.