You Are Not Alone in Depression

you cannot see or listen to
the very heart of life
it isn’t there, then suddenly
you feel it
going no direction it is everywhere
knowing every word it makes no sound
I was no believer
but I am certain now
certain that we’re not alone
a kind of light flows through it all
I hear a voice inside my own
like a waking dream
no you’re not alone

-Sarah Slean, You Are Not Alone

It’s Bell’s Let’s Talk day here in Canada – a day dedicated to raising awareness, acceptance and action about mental illness. I had another post cued up for today, when I heard it mentioned on the radio and knew this was an important post to write.

Depression crept it’s way into my life when I was 15. We had just moved from Ontario to Illinois, and my mother and I were living in a studio apartment in Moline, my bed set up behind a low bookshelf, so that I  had some sense of privacy. My brother remained in Canada, with my aunt. At an interview to start school, I had a panic attack during the meeting and couldn’t stop crying. So I stayed home, spending most of my time asleep, and rapidly gained 40 additional pounds. The signs were unmistakable, and soon I was diagnosed with depression. It was just the start of a 15 year long battle. On and off meds for several bouts of paralyzing depression, through post partum depression and finally out on the other side, I’ve been off anti depressants for three years next month. It’s a constant effort, checking in with  my own state of mind, staying on top of how I’m feeling, especially when my insomnia gets particularly bad. My doctor has noted that I go from okay to not okay very quickly.

For me, depression takes the form of heaviness. It’s hard to describe it in any other term. I feel weighed down, and that weight leads to a feeling of constant exhaustion and dread. Everything has to happen while dragging this invisible weight along behind me. Lethargy curls around me and I’d rather be in bed – no matter what the alternative activity might be. The more isolated I feel, the deeper my depression digs its heels in, the more I isolate myself. Vicious cycle. Depression is a deep dark secret for so many people, and it was for me for many years. It was only well into adulthood that I learned that many of the members of my family were also sufferers. It was a hush hush secret. Depression was weakness. It was “crazy”. No one talked about it.  Depression is isolating, and lonely.

You are not alone. 

The stigma surrounding mental illness is still so prevalent, and that’s the point of Let’s Talk. Break the silence. Mental health affects us all in one way or another, and we are not alone. Bell will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every Bell text message sent, mobile or long distance call made, Tweet using #BellLetsTalk or Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image.

I want to encourage our beautiful Vivid & Brave readers to tweet away! Not only because it will result in a donation, but because when you do, you open the door. Maybe there’s someone in your life who really needs someone they can reach out to. Maybe you’re ready to reach out yourself. Let’s talk.

Stephanie Ostermann

I’m the sort of girl who you meet for coffee and end up pouring your entire heart out to. The friend you come to when you need someone to call it straight. No bullshit. No extras. Just truth.

I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.

When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.

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