If you Google search “Depression” you’ll find the phrase “The Silent Epidemic” comes up a lot.
Since 2004, I’ve tried to be as open about my struggles with depression as much as possible, and letting others know that you aren’t and don’t have to be alone.
I remember sitting in the doctor’s office in 2004 after taking the first step to address why I constantly felt overwhelmed and exhausted. As someone who takes pride in not crying, I was suddenly bursting into tears for what appeared to be very little reason. I had a good job and things were going well for me, so why did I feel like this? After that initial discussion, I felt a small sense of relief but after a few weeks went by, the exhaustion and dark thoughts started to creep back in. This time, my family doctor prescribed medication, signed me off work to regroup, and referred me to a counsellor; however, the damage to my reputation had already been done.
My colleagues felt I was using my depression as an excuse to get more time off work, nobody really took the time or had the courtesy to ask if I was ok or to find out what was wrong. Talking with the counsellor helped me though, as did the group sessions held at the clinic. I learned that I wasn’t on my own even though at times it felt that way. Once I began to open up, more and more people seemed to be comfortable to admit the challenges they’d been through. With their help, I was able to come off the medication and I learned new skills and tools to help cope with the day-to-day stressors.
I think the moving to Canada from the U.K acted more as a distraction, a positive event that I could work towards. It was stressful making such a large change to my life at the time, but I knew that it was a good move. Once I got here, immersing myself in my new surroundings, learning new things in my job, and studying for my degree. Basically pushing myself so I didn’t have time to fall back into my old self.
I have been quite open about my depression here, at least at work. If I felt myself becoming overwhelmed or burned out, I would say so… But just because I now have the tools and skills to handle my depression, doesn’t mean it’s been plain sailing for me. I am by no means cured, I still have my dark days, but I’m no longer keeping them to myself. I step back and remember I’ve been there before and I had the strength then to push through it. I’m no longer afraid to admit to loved ones when I’m struggling and I make a point of taking the time to do things that help me cope, like cycling, and getting out into the country.
I’ve always enjoyed cycling but as I got older and into cars, it fell by the wayside. Knowing that activity and movement help in stress and anxiety management, I start riding again in 2013, and began taking part in charity group rides (Conquer Cancer and MS Bike Tour). This year, I was made aware of and took part in the “Ride Don’t Hide” Event, riding the full 105KM route, riding with a friend from my local cycle club. Being able to ride in support of a charity doing work to help people like myself means a lot and hope to be able to put a team together for future rides.