Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Speaking Up to Depression

Yesterday, February 8th was Bell's "Let's Talk" day meant to bring awareness and to increase talk around mental illness. A few years ago I might've thought of this solely as another good initiative. Now I know it's more than that. I need to talk.

I've never been formally diagnosed with depression, nor am I even sure how deep it's been, but I know that at least twice in my life (but probably many more times than that) I have been depressed - seven years ago and in the last six months. Perhaps having some medical confirmation that this has afflicted me would be prudent but simply acknowledging to myself that I have suffered from it has helped. It's given me some context around the fact it's not normal. Some sense that you don't have to just accept being "down" as a permanent fact. It's given me a starting point from which I can find solutions and work to get better.

The reality is I'm struggling even to write this. This is in large part because I haven't been very open to people close to me, not to mention to myself, about the fact things were bothering me. So this, at essence, is me exposing myself, which I haven't had the courage to do. Up until the last few months I've made myself solely accountable to fix me. Finding happiness had to come from within and burdening others with my petty concerns wasn't fair. Heck, I live a pretty blessed life in so many ways (which is true) so how on earth could I possibly even hint at depression? That's a great question and one to which I still don't have an answer.

I know there are people that have suffered depression worse than me. Mine has been somewhat fleeting, coming and going as different triggers start it again. Essentially it has resulted in me simply not enjoying anything and being anxious about many, often unimportant, things. My regular response was to tell myself to simply snap out of it, be happy, recognize what I have and just be a stronger person. I couldn't explain this feeling of depression and that's what's made it hard. I wanted hard answers and in cases like this those aren't easy to come by. The one answer I have realized can work is talking. Simply being open to others, and thus yourself, about where you're at can help make things a bit clearer and brighter. You then know you've got someone to come along with you. I owe my sister and a few friends for making me realize that.

As I sit here, I'm feeling quite good. My anxiety has lessened, my spirits are up and there's a general sense of optimism. I'm able to focus on things and not have lingering negative thoughts unnecessarily tear me down, which until as recently as early December was a regular occurrence. How long will this last? It's hard to say. I'm always waiting for something to happen that will turn me down that dark tunnel again. Next time though, I'll enter it with one ally - the ability to talk.


Nancy Douglas said...

Good for you Doug! I'm not happy you're feeling this way but I'm happy you wrote this.

Chris Douglas said...

These are good steps Doug. It always helps to talk - even if it isn't about basketball!

Yen said...

Two allies. Friends and family who care, and will be right there with you. You're never alone.

Farrukh Naqvi said...

I'm proud of you for "Speaking Up..."! You're an amazing person and I think of you as a brother... I'll always be there for you.