Guest Blog By: Craig Lester
A little under two years ago, the word depression had no meaning beyond its standard definition for me. In early 2011, that all changed… and while I had no idea what I was suffering from… I knew I was unhappy and a complete wreck inside.
I had just gone through a break-up and I thought the best course of action was to push forward and keep my feet moving, which isn’t a bad strategy so long as you put yourself first. I did not…. resulting in me filling myself with a lot of self-blame and self-hate, which made it absolutely impossible to feel good about myself… which simply led to more emotional and physical pain.
At first, I would wake up to tightness in my chest and knots in my stomach most mornings, following a restless night… I would put a smile on my face and go to work… despite not feeling ‘quite right’
As time would drag on, I struggled to keep myself in one piece at work, the pain just grew for what seemed like no reason. I would sit down before going to work every day… put on my mask and practise responses to the common questions you get at work such as How are things? They’re good!” I had it down to an art. Most days, keeping myself in one piece was the priority and everything else suffered as a result. Revealing how I felt was not an option. I spent most days full of embarrassment, self-blame and self-hate and in quite a bit of pain.
What did I do about it? Absolutely nothing, because I thought of myself as pathetic for feeling this way. All I saw in the mirror was a guy who couldn’t handle a break-up months after it all ended. 10 months later I found myself starting to break down 3 – 4 times a week at home. The most troubling of all the symptoms is that I felt all alone most of the time, even when I was having conversations with family and friends. That is when I realized I was in trouble and I needed help.
At this point, I reached out to the Calgary Counselling Centre through the National Screening Day test on their website. This one single act of me taking control of my situation, turned into another and another, until I was helping myself at every turn, allowing me to regain control of my happiness.
Depression is always on the offence, and while there are many people out there who can help people who suffer, a wall of stigma and lack of communication exists… that is why we must continue to forward the Calgary Counselling Centre’s programs, the work of the Distress Centre and Alberta Health Services. There is always a need for more communication about depression, anxiety and suicide. More communication allows for more dots to be connected between the people who suffer and the people who can help. As we all know ‘the best defence is a good offence. ‘
We need to take depression by the horns … and that’s NO BULL.