This post will be very different from my previous ones; it will be open, honest, raw, and vulnerable. For the past few years, Bell Media has been hosting a day to raise money for mental health initiatives through their #BellLetsTalk campaign, in which each social media interaction (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) counts as a $0.05 donation by the company. I wanted to share my own personal struggle with depression that took me to the very darkest depths of my core and stared down the barrel of darkness.
About ten years ago (2007), I had moved into a place in Calgary with a woman I was madly in love with. We had plans of getting married, starting a family, and all the other normal ideologies that society tells us to do. Fast forward another three years, and our relationship is crumbling. I won’t get into the details of how it all came about, but suffice it to say that with my relationship failing, I was blaming myself for its demise. This is where my journey into depression begins.
With our relationship all but dead in the water, we still lived together for 3 months and even slept in the same bed. Each day was a struggle for me. I went to work trying (being the key word here) to leave behind everything that was going wrong in my personal life by hiding it all from my coworkers and how much it was affecting me. I was one of those who didn’t know how to open up to someone about being depressed. My mindset was wired for “being the man” and that in order to do so, you hid your feelings or buried them, because that’s what it meant to be a man – to be strong. I was both extremely hurt and angry since this was my first major romantic/love relationship.
At the time, I was taking city transit in order to get to and from work every day. This consisted of 2 trains (switching from one line to another) as well as a bus; in total, I was leaving my house around 6:45 am and returning home around 6:30 pm with over an hour spent each way on traveling. I’ll admit that some of my coworkers noticed my behavior change and asked if I was Okay – deep down I wanted to tell them, to open up to someone who wasn’t my family (who had been helping me, by the way) and to just get it all out. But I couldn’t; I told them I was fine.
This is where my personal story is one that very few know about, as I’ve hidden it well for many years. There was a day in which I stood waiting for a train at the Banff Trail C-train station in Calgary. I had the thoughts going through my head:
“It really is all my fault that my relationship is finished. I’m the one who fucked things up. If I can’t be happy with someone I love, what’s the fucking point of being here? Why the fuck should I even be alive?”
I was literally inches away from stepping out in front of a train and ending my life. Just…..one…..more…..step…..away. This was the beast of suicidal thoughts I had been having over the previous few days. It was the darkness that has claimed so many lives in the void of depression; one that my grandfather wasn’t able to defeat himself. I honestly can’t say for sure what stopped me that day – it might’ve been my grandfather being my guardian angel watching over me. My spiritual journey since then has been one that’s opened my eyes to the connectedness of all things. It wasn’t until years later I learned that my grandfather had once spoken of a young man who had taken his life over the breakup with his girlfriend and that doing so “wasn’t worth it”. If I had taken that step, I wouldn’t have met some phenomenal people since who’ve become some of my best and closest of friends; I wouldn’t have had some incredible experiences; I wouldn’t have found my passion for music and playing guitar; I wouldn’t have discovered my calling to change the world.
Some of the things that people do in order to hide their depression are noticeable, while others aren’t so much. I’ve discovered some of my own signs through my journey: I tend to become more reserved and quiet, retreating into myself like a turtle into its shell. For me, it’s the physical manifestation of feeling like I have no voice, of being unheard, in pain and hurting, alone and that no one understands me or my pain. Here’s a link to a list of 30 Hidden Signs of Depression. If you know you have depression, please seek help. Even if it’s talking to someone that isn’t a professional counselor; it could be your best friend or your family. Likewise, connectedness is a two-way street. If you have a friend who flakes out of plans at the last minute or is usually outgoing but isn’t so much anymore – show them some compassion and ask them how they’re really doing. You could be saving their life.
Having been through depression myself, and still have my good and bad days every now and then – I know the struggle, I know the pain. You’re not alone in this – it’s still sometimes difficult even for me to ask for help; being a Taurus I’m as stubborn as the proverbial bull. But you can even reach out to me. I’ll always be there for anyone who needs me as I’ll always be a helping hand or a listening ear. Because I know what it’s like to believe that no one cares (even when surrounded by those you know who do). I know what it’s like to feel alone, suffocated in your own thoughts. I know how just one person can change someone’s life. I’m here for anyone that needs me just to prove that compassion still exists. I’m here for you.
A semicolon symbolizes a pause or a potential to end a sentence and the author chooses to keep going. Our life is the sentence and we are the author. My story isn’t over…..and neither is yours!