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Facts & Arguments Essay

I can't 'snap out of' my depression

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

I'm tired of lying about it. I'm tired of the stigma and shame. That's why I'm writing this ...Read the full article

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  1. Ground Working from Canada writes: An absolutely excellent, honest article.
  2. Ground Working from Canada writes: Your description of the symptoms is really well done. My bet is that a lot of people don't recognize their own depression for what it is: depression. I don't mean to belittle the severe cases, but I think there's an important upside for most people that accompanies the recognition that their depression is actually depression - where there is typically light at the end of the tunnel, and where many of the negative thoughts are recognized for not being 'real', but being symptoms of the disorder.
  3. adriano Chiaselotti from Canada writes: I could not agree more. I have been fighting deppresion for almost 18years now and you are right people don't understand . When I try to talk about it I tear up almost right away. It truly is a battle and I have finally accepted it now I only wish people in my life can do the same for me.
  4. Misery No one from Toronto, Canada writes: One has to wonder if there's any real help out there.
  5. D C from United States writes: I think it's good that you wrote this...
  6. Canadian Woman from Canada writes: Sarah. Thank you for writing one of the best descriptions I've ever read of the actual experience of Depression. I know, from long personal experience, exactly how it feels & you put it into words better than I ever could.
    And you speak so well about people not 'getting it'. I used to think that it would be much easier if when one has Major Depression, you could wear a hat that identified you as a verified truly sick person. It is so exhausting to have to pretend all the time.
    I also know that there's absolutely nothing I can say that will make you feel any better now. But I know that if you can get the right meds - not easy at all I know - it WILL get better. All you have to do right now is to hang on a minute at a time, sweetheart. Just one minute. Just for now. You can do it, & your gift of words is why you need to stay. I am holding you in my heart.
  7. Thinkingman FromCanada from Canada writes: Profound article! As someone who works for a non-profit agency I see first hand the social stigma the mentally ill endure.
    With Sincere Kindness and Empathy. Kevin.
  8. JM Bechard from Quebec City, Canada writes:
    You are not the only one that is struggling with mental illness: everyone is. Indeed, being part of a society that still stigmatizes mental illness makes us all ill. It is therefore not just to you to seek help, but to all of us to cure our views about mental illness, which is not worse than physical illness. Do we really need a doctor's note prescribing our own thinking?
  9. ck f from Canada writes: Wow, Sarah. Well said. In our household we know what that is. Me, my spouse, my son, and my daughter ... all four of us grapple with this to varying degrees at various times. It truly is a lifelong battle. I wish you well, and I also wish you understanding from others. Thank you so much for being honest with clarity.
  10. Diana Bedoya from North Vancouver, Canada writes: I just wanted to commend you for your honesty and courage in writing your article. My brother suffers from depression, and I honestly feel lost in trying to understand it. Thank you for providing me with some insight (although I realize every case is different). He's mentioned some of the same symptoms you have described, which has really hit home with me.
    Thank you again
  11. Tom R from Victoria, B.C., Canada writes: Sarah, As others have said, thank you for your honesty, courage and clarity. how you describe your depression strickes a cord for me as well. I'm in my late 50's and still have my dark days, however not as dark as when I was younger. Medication [ the right combo ], my wife's support and the hard earned knowledge that it WILL pass make it bareable, so I accept my depression as part of me, the flip side of my positive sensitivity towards life. Hang in there Sarah, you are more than worth it, even in your darkest hours. Take care.
  12. J S from Canada writes: Excellent article! I think it was Johnny Cash that said, 'If you find yourself in hell, keep walking. You may come out the other side.' I'm going to keep walking... JM Bechard from Quebec City, Canada - I can tell from your comment, you've never experienced mental illness. It is just as life threatening as any physical disease. It's the reason I know that it would take 8 feet 8 inches of rope to snap my neck with a noose. Thankfully, I have a wonderful family and good doctors that are helping me. The author of this article described the symptoms of depression to a 't' and anyone that's been there understands. You don't and probably never will. What I'd like you to do is to read up on mental illness - the causes, symptoms and treatment - to try and understand rather than continue the stigma of 'get over it'. So you know - this is the sentence that tells me that you don't get it: 'Do we really need a doctor's note prescribing our own thinking?' No, I don't. I need the doctor's help to prescribe me medication to try and balance the chemicals in my brain. My doctor is also trying to teach me how to deal with an over-active anterior cingulette which complicates my depression by throwing in obsessive compulsive disorder. I'm also learning to recognize my emotions and to tell people about them - heavy emphasis on 'telling people about them'. I'm also learning alternative ways of thinking - it's called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - so I can cope with my disease in the future. Telling me to 'get over it' is like telling a diabetic they don't need insulin - everyone's body produces it, just make more, it's simple...
  13. J S from Canada writes: Damn it! I put paragraphs for a reason G&M!
  14. Man of La Mancha from Canada writes: Sarah, you wonder 'I cringe at the thought of people I know reading this. What will they think of me?'

    I think you're incredible - struggling through with a very heavy burden, but still managing somehow. As one who has experienced depression, I know how difficult it is just to get through the day when you are depressed. The fact that you have managed this for so long is a testament to your strenght of character and resilience. I hope that you are able to get the help you need to once again be able to enjoy the good things in life.
  15. Craig Schiller from Toronto, writes: Part of the problem is that many people also use the words 'depression' and 'depressed' more casually, to mean the sort of transient bad mood that everybody gets into once in a while when a few minor inconveniences pile up at once. So those of us who struggle with the real thing face the distorted perception that it's something one can just snap out of, precisely because other people have cheapened the word by misusing it to describe the kind of temporary bad mood that one can snap out of easily.

    Another part of the problem is that some people think antidepressants magically fix clinical depression, that all one has to do is pop a pill and they'll instantly be as good as new. Which isn't the case -- for most people, antidepressants can't do much more than just take the edge off, turning the inner murk into a dull aching grey.

    So what should people understand here? Firstly: if you can actually complete the sentence 'I'm depressed because...', then you're not really depressed, you're just in a bad mood. And secondly: if someone's struggling with the real thing, don't blithely tell us that we can fix it just by snapping out of it, popping a pill or reading The Secret. It doesn't work that way.
  16. Jacaranda Jill from Australia writes: I've been depressed (who hasn't) but I've never suffered from depression, so it's a bit difficult for me to really understand what those suffering from depression go through. This article is a really good start. Well done.
  17. Ken Cowan from Paris, France writes: Another thing most people don't realize is that depression saps your energy to the point where, even if you want to 'fight it', you have no energy to do so. Just getting up out of bed seems to be too much. Making an appointment with a doctor, and then actually getting dressed and getting out of the house are almost too much to ask.

    Which is why medication helps, even if it doesn't necessarily cure; somehow, if well-chosen, the medication does give the energy needed to 'fight back'...( a term I am using which, above all, simply means to 'keep going' as opposed to deciding that there is no more point to living).
  18. Squish_a_p From BC from Canada writes: Thank you for sharing your story Sarah.
  19. Fabien Nadeau from St-Liboire, QC, Canada writes: Thanks. My daughter has been fighting depression for a few months, now, and I know she would understand how you feel.

    Depression is hard on personal relationships. A husband has to do all the chores, and friends don't what to think, what to do...

    It's like a sinkhole... Causes not well understood, remedies not well working.

    Let's just hope chemistry can help relieving the pain...

    I feel so helpless. Is there a solution?
  20. David Wilson from Toronto, writes: there was a similar story posted here in March, Born-again happy, I notice that it is still available on the Globe site: in which the author seemed to be saying that drugs were the way out, I am glad to see that this writer does not make such a claim, and she does make very clear one of the principal dilemmas, that depressed people are not very attractive and tend to get short shrift, when I was first going through this myself (many years ago) I was given an Awake (yup, by a Salvationer who gave me my copy as I sat in Ottawa's Lockmaster Tavern) in which this idea was also expressed, not a new thought then ----- there is not much room in one of these comment boxes, doh! no paragraphs as has already been lamented by one poster :-) and so forth, so I will cut to the chase ----- I am one of those old fogeys who think that it takes two to tango, this 'epidemic' of depression, certainly among the people that I know and talk to, seems to me to be the result both of character AND society, and the insights and thoughts that have helped me the most have come from quite an unexpected place - a Canadian philosopher, Charles Taylor, and his book, A Secular Age, which I recommend highly, my point being that the more clearly you can describe what is happening, the more likely you are to find some kind of resolution, be well.
  21. Jane Benn from Canada writes: To Craig Schiller - what you are leaving out is that situational depression (what you call a bad mood) can, if it is severe enough and persists long enough, tip some people over into clinical depression, with its chemical imbalances, inability to function and emotional morasses. The difference is that, when the situation improves, and/or with medication, the patient can recover, usually within a relatively short (months or a year or two) time, and will often not relapse. The author, and the many others like her, suffer for years or decades or a lifetime. Medication helps some of them, but not all, and I admire anyone who struggles with this illness and manages to make life in spite of it.
  22. I'm mad as hell from god's country from Canada writes: Sarah - my heart goes out to you. I know from personal experience what major depresssion is like. Once I found the right medication and an excellent therapist, I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel and have been well for almost 20 years. I am amazed, however, that in this day and age, with all the publicity and information about depression, that there is still a stigma attached to it.
  23. Rob Tremblay from ottawa, Canada writes: First off, well said and thank you for your bravery. I struggle with depression, and at one point did take prescribed meds. The meds were unbeleivable, they helped, I was happier than i had been in years. But did I want to continue taking meds for the rest of my life to be happy? The answer should have been I don't care, if it makes me happy do it. But my answer was in fact, no, I do not want my happiness to depend on a pill I must take daily. So I stopped after about 10 months on the meds, a period in which there was noticeably positive effetcs, and I was depressed again. I still am, I do not try and hide my depression as some do, I like to think I more so channel my depression. I will sit in candlelight and write, listen to specific music and watch specific movies as therapy. many of my friends associate a certain darkness to me, but that's who I am, if I am unhappy I am unhappy, I do not want a pill to change that. Is this denial? I am unsure. I am sure that i do not want to alter my natural state of mind. Perhaps I am sane in an insane world. Perhaps there are explainable roots to the problem that is my depression? I don't know, I've toyed around with the aspects of depression for years, and I just don't know. Good luck to everyone, and if you are not against medicating, I suggest you try, because it is unbeleivable the help it brings.
  24. puffin wrangler from Montreal, Canada writes: Yeah, it can affect the part of your brain that regulates sleep. For two years I couldn't stay awake (I slept 14 hrs a day), I thought I had mono; then for two years I couldn't stay asleep (I slept 90 min. a night), I thought I was going to die. It's a bonafide disease, often compared to diabetes. You have the right to seek professional help.

    But I've noticed a good thing, that the stigma is lessening. My grandparents were ashamed of my 'weakness,' but my cousins accepted it as a malady that could be cured. And I was cured: four years of medication then two years of counselling to put my life back together. Good luck to you. It's not something I would ever wish on my enemy.
  25. Trish Murphy from Toronto, Canada writes: I have read that depression is an illness where the victim is often treated worse by those who should be the most supportive, spouses and family. Certainly I was treated with astonishing cruelty by some of those I was closest to when I succumbed to depression about two years ago. Would it help if we all started to think of it as a physical illness, something going wrong with a distinct organ, a shortfall of neurogenesis in the hippocampus? That seems to be a useful working model of what is actually happening in the brain in people who are ill. Stop calling it depression, which sounds too much like being temporarily down, and start calling it something like cortisol-induced hippocampal poisoning? Sarah, I was able to find a (so-called) SSRI medication which worked and to find a cognitive-behavioural therapist who understands how slow and painstaking recovery is. And that, I think, is key to understanding: recovery can be very slow. The medications take weeks to months to evaluate, to get the medication right, to get the dosage right, and for behavioral and cognitive changes to start affecting neurogenesis. And there are setbacks: seasonal darkness or a new stressful event can induce setbacks. But recovery happens. Thank you, Sarah, for writing about the fatigue and difficulty making choices, which seem to be among the hardest manifestations of the illness for others to understand, and which cannot be masked by an up-beat social facade. In the same period that I was facing depression, my older sister, who is physically active and of normal weight, was coping with a diagnosis of diabetes. It is astonishing the different social reaction to two illnesses, neither of which can be 'snapped out of'.
  26. D S from Canada writes: I really enjoyed this article. What I liked most about it wasn't the great descrpition of symptoms or misunderstanding within society (which were very well depicted), but rather the way this type of sentiment can apply to a lot of people... I have been wanting to be tested for bipolar disease for some time now. I went to see my family doctor and he had said the symptoms I were feeling were simply circumstantial and that anxiety/nervousnous were driving my moods. My dad also saw it along these lines. It's frustrating when people just simply say that it is 'not a big deal. Everything will work out for you. You're just on edge because of where you're at right now. Once you control your emotions better, everything will be better'. And for a lot of people this is in fact true. Emotional control comes with maturity and experience. But I believet his should never undermine the fact that diagnosed medical illnesses should be overlooked the way they are. Although my current situation is the best it has ever been (accepted to a Masters program, pretty much over an ex-gf, finanically set up for school, great apartment lined up) I still would have liked to have some better testing done for bipolarism or depression... These diseases are just as 'physical' as any disease. They are defficiencies/abormalities in neurochemicals and, if anything, are much more serious physical problems. I wish society would just understand that these types of diseases are rooted in the most complex area of medical treatment, our brain chemistry, and should be justifiably taken as serious (if not more) than most other diseases.
  27. p s from Toronto, Canada writes: I have found that the best way to fight depression is to stop fighting. Let it be and it will ease on its own. Fighting it only deepens the hole I'm in. And on the bad days, I try to accomplish some little thing - cleaning out a drawer, something that will give me some sense of accomplishment.
  28. Al Gorman from Canada writes: Sarah, your comments are very courageous. Thanks! An old friend of mine would say 'a problem shared is a problem half solved.' I would advocate that in order to begin removing the societal stigma that it would be helpful to abandon the broad categorization of 'mental illness'. I also suggest that classifications, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, are not all that helpful either. It leads people and their conditions to become indistinguishable from one another. People who have a physical illness are not labelled with that. When was the last time you heard someone say 'She has physical illness.' Sarah's description is one that defines chronic and severe depression, yet no one is utterly and completely depressed, much the same as no one is utterly delusional or completely hallucinatory. Doctors are not always a great help. They mean well, write a prescription and send you on your way. I suggest the problem that results in the depressive state is one that is marked by anxiety, fear, and a pervasive interpretation of no possibility and apathy. I also suggest that where one cannot distinguish possibility that one often has been shaped by experiences they are incomplete with; experiences that have resulted in a loss of the authentic self, low self esteem, low confidence and feelings of shame, guilt and no self worth. Sarah's courageous step of sharing her experience with all of us and taking the risks that she has stepped out to take (probably because it is feels so bad that she doesn't see sharing her experience as being worst) is a wonderful step not only to helping herself but also to helping so many other people who identify with her experience and their own feelings of depression. Sarah...thanks again so much!
  29. Kevin Desmoulin from TO, Canada writes: Keep up the fight, Ya and the way it is, a fight, just to get up.
  30. Dominique Millette from Canada writes: I think one major problem is that many people don't understand the severity of the high end of the continuum. The word 'depression' describes everything from passing blues and disappointment to suicidal ideation. In fact, the word only applies to persistent depressed mood for more than two consecutive weeks. If people hear 'depression' and think of their own passing blues which they've overcome, they won't understand what clinical depression is, or what it feels like, and therefore they won't believe it's a medical issue that needs extensive treatment or a disability that impairs functioning. But it does.
  31. k y from toronto, Canada writes: I think you will feel rewarded by your bravery, admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery. Depression is such a misunderstood and complex illness but there has been incredible progress towards effective treatments. Ask your doctor about cipralex. If you had high blood pressure you wouldn't judge yourself as harshly for needing medication... thanks for sharing Sarah.
  32. Hope... eternal from Vancouver, Canada writes: I can truly empathise as I suffered from a terrible depression some years ago.

    Recently, I've heard about a cutting edge treatment for instances where depression does not respond to other forms of treatment. It is called deep brain stimulation. It involves the surgical placement of a small electrode within the brain. This electrode stimulates a specific section of the brain through electrical impulses, in a number of cases providing relief from depression. It has been featured on television documentaries and articles have been written about it.

    Here's a link to one of the articles:

    Anyone interested can contact the doctors named in the article by Googling them and the institution where they work.

    I also know that Dr Zelma Kiss at the University of Calgary is working on this.

    I do trust that this is helpful to some - I would really like to help those suffering from depression in any way possible. There is hope...
  33. Jane P from Toronto, Canada writes: BRAVO Sarah. I had post-partum depression after having my son, and was frustrated by the number of people who just don't GET IT. My brain was sending me garbled-up, incorrect messages. A manicure doesn't make that better. My biggest peeve from that time? Certain family members who asked me every day if 'I felt any better'. It doesn't work that way - recovery is gradual - you don't just jump out of bed one day thinking 'life is great again!'. If someone has a cast on their arm, you don't ask them 'when are you getting it off?' every single day.
  34. Glen , from Canada writes: Thank you for your honesty, and your bravery.
  35. Mike Toronto from Canada writes: Thanks to the author for sharing and to the posters for their thoughtful comments. Mental health issues are likely a lot more common than most people think but the tendency is to struggle privately or to want to place the blame somewhere. We're all scared at times of being overwhelmed by our own feelings. We're all scared at times that there are blindspots in our lives that we don't understand.

    Medication can no doubt be helpful, especially in cases of repeat or severe depression but the medicalization of all problems only shows our society's disregard for human problems. Understanding one's own ways of thinking and feeling takes time but can result in quiet and profound changes. Why is it then the services of social workers or highly trained psychologists aren't covered by OHIP? Why does one need to have private insurance and deep pockets to get help? Sure, you can see a family doctor or psychiatrist but almost all of their training is in prescribing and that is often only part of the problem. There should be an emphasis on mental health, not mental illness. Mental functioning exists on a continuum and repeated or sustained stress will wear anyone down or push them to cope in unhealthy ways.

    'Mind Over Mood' is a good self-help resource and introduction to cognitive behavioural therapy but the art of therapy requires a relationship with a caring and skilled therapist who can fit conceptual and technical models and techniques to the struggling individual.
  36. donskey donskey from Canada writes: Clinical depression is a disease of the brain caused the neutrons misfiring and I guess no one knows why? one in five they say suffer from it in N Americia, so you are not alone. It may be in the geneoric code sequencing and passed on through the generations in family groupes. The current controls are meds, councilling and family support. Have one close family member be your pillar of support and talk to them often. See a good doctor and take you meds.

    Thust me its a temporary condition and works in episodes. You will get better. Try not to focus on the disease. Pick your favorite thing to focus on. It gets easier as you move out of the condition.
  37. Mark Mywords from Canada writes: I recall some words in a song by Neil Young written in his darker days...'though my problems may be meaningless, that don't make them go away.'

    And this also...'Take my advice. Don't listen to me.'
  38. Mike Toronto from Canada writes: P.S. At the end of the day, don't let anyone tell you what your experience in therapy should be. Experts (psychologists, psychiatrists) may understand what is going on intellectually but that's only half the problem. Good therapy should encourage openness, curiosity, and reflection, not just activity. If you don't find that the first time you look, try again with someone else. Good therapy is personal, not out of a book or manual.
  39. Craftytee Craft from Etobicoke, Canada writes: I ask that those who love me remember that my depression is not all of me. I still laugh love and experience joy. It is just that sometimes my other parts get in the way.
  40. SusieQ 321 from Canada writes: I have friends who suffer from depression who have done the work with therapists and drug therapies to become functioning. I don't understand how it works or feels but I have seen the effects of full blown depression alone and combined with other disorders.
    I don't subscribe as a general rule to better living through chemistry but when the right combinations of drugs can be found it works, they work and seeing the change in people you love is amazing.
    Brave essay and I think you will find your family and friends do their best to try and understand and relate. When it is a place you have never taken a journey to you can imagine the ride or the scenery when you get there. But you empathize and care.
  41. Diane Ploss from Whitby, Canada writes: Thank you for writing this. I have struggled with 'coming out' about my ongoing depression for many years. I am tired of people thinking I am a snob, non-joiner, flake or worse. My closest friends know about my struggles but the only one who understands it is my friend who has a husband fighting coming to terms with his depression.
    CAMH is wonderful and has been very helpful for my treatment and coping, but you still have to go through this alone.
    Because of the misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental illness work is the last place I would ever choose to open up about my depression. I would rather be labelled a strange employee than open up.
    Too bad eh!
  42. Karen Morris from Canada writes: Well, Sarah, you can still write very well. So the 'little black dog' isn't right about everything, is he? Take you time,and take care. God bless.
  43. Jennifer Dickson from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, Canada writes: Fabulous description of the illness I suffer from as well. You are very brave to write this. Unfortunately, you will find out who your true friends are in the process. I have lost friends over my illness. And gained some as well but it's painful.

    I cannot be free with my illness because I am a business owner. My first responsiblity is to my employees and clients. I cannot risk the stigma invading my work life.
  44. Daria Kathnelson from Ottawa, Canada writes: Canadian Woman: Your honest, sincere words to Sarah brought tears to my eyes. It is with the help and understanding of people like you who help people who are depressed see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  45. Michelle V. from Canada writes: Great description of this illness! I'm just coming out the other side of a two-year 'black hole,' and have started talking to others about what they were observing about my behaviour. I keep asking, 'Didn't you see I was SO sick? Didn't you see I was SO alone?' I'm being told that nobody even noticed anything was wrong...And meanwhile, I'd spent two years feeling such an intense loneliness and isolation that I could barely survive day to day. I STILL have piles of things laying around my house that have built up because I couldn't find the will to do simple tasks - something as simple as putting a picture in a frame, or moving a pile of laundry. At the time (and even now) some of those small tasks seemed the equivalent of building the pyramids! Right now I'm concentrating on recovering - the piles of laundry and unfinished tasks can wait. But, MAN, does it feel good to come out the other side and be back to the person I was before the depression hit! It CAN happen, and WILL happen!! My focus now is to stop fearing the direction my life will take, and to stop worrying about the past. I'm just focusing on loving myself and loving my life TODAY, and the rest seems to be slowly, slowly falling into place. And it's true - nobody can understand what depression is like until they've experienced it for themselves. GREAT ARTICLE!!
  46. it's a fact from Canada writes: Ken Cowan from Paris, France writes: Another thing most people don't realize is that depression saps your energy to the point where, even if you want to 'fight it', you have no energy to do so. Just getting up out of bed seems to be too much. Making an appointment with a doctor, and then actually getting dressed and getting out of the house are almost too much to ask.

    I agree. The other problem is that it's so difficult to find good help. You need to find someone who is the right fit, psychologically speaking. And it's difficult to do that. Which just makes it that much more difficult to ask for help a second, third or fourth time. i agree with others about the meds - if all else fails, medication might be the answer for you. I know this firsthand; the meds helped, along with cognitive behaviour therapy. Right now I'm also looking into mindfulness.
  47. Bang the Drum from Toronto, Canada writes: Even well-meaning people often talk about depression as if it is a kind of self-indulgence. It's time to stop personalizing and individualizing it as some kind of moral problem. There's a reason that depression is sweeping modern industrial society, and we've got to dig deep for the roots to this pandemic. Which kills far more people every year than some pig virus. Well done, Sarah. Best wishes.
  48. Gillian Scobie from Perth, Canada writes: Thank you, Sarah. Great essay, and very brave of you to write it. I have found meditation far more helpful than anything else. I don't mean sitting alone with your already downward-spiralling thoughts and thinking even worse ones. It may seem hard to believe, when you feel so horrible and feel incapable of doing anything, that understanding how you're trapped by your thoughts and ingrained mental habits can help. But it does. That is the nub of the whole problem. It has been found that medications work while people take them, but the depression comes back when they stop.

    What happens is that every time a person gets depressed, the connections in the brain between mood, thoughts, the body and behaviour get stronger, making it easier for depression to be triggered again. Makes sense.

    Two books are essential: Feeling Good by David Burns, which explains the unconscious thought patterns that engender depression, and The Mindful Way Through Depression by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which comes with a CD of different meditations. Mindfulness meditation allows you to get away from the pain of the depression and create a mental space so you can look at those patterns. So there is a lot of hope for depression, using these other methods. It just takes more work.
  49. H Berry from Ottawa, Canada writes: Thank you for this wonderful article Sarah - I just sent it to one of my very close friends who echoes your words and experiences. Take care!
  50. harry warner from salt spring island, Canada writes: Some time ago, when one of our regulars at 'Pizza Night' at the Fulford Inn did not show up, someone asked her spouse where she was. 'In hospital' he replied. When asked what was the problem he replied 'She's suffering from severe depression'.
    I gasped - was it possible that 'mental' illness was as OK to discuss as is 'physical' illness?
    At evening's end I thanked the spouse for his honesty.
    There IS hope!
  51. L F from Canada writes: Trish Murphy, a person that suffers from depression is not a 'victim' they have an illness. Most people have a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected.
    My mother chose to 'live' with her imbalance and then my siblings and I became the victims. Having to go through live being afraid of how your parent will be acting today is not only unfair but in my case emotionally scaring.
    We need to know the difference between being sad and being depressed and then go for treatment.

    I cannot imagine any stigma attached to mental illness but then I personally have a hard time believing that people are really that ignorant that they would be racists or for that matter thinking that you can catch the flue from eating pork. I guess
    I always have given the general population more credit then they really deserve.
    I am learning that people are really in need of the educational experience that goes along with articles like this one.
  52. B Reynolds from Canada writes: To the author -

    In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig wrote 'The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.' The same applies to shame and stigma - the shame and stigma that matter are the shame and stigma you have within yourself.

    If people shunned you for being a woman, you'd look at them like they were from another planet. But yet you fear they'll shun you for having a mental illness. That means that - somewhere in your heart - you believe it and say, 'Yes, you're right, I'm fundamentally flawed as a human being and don't deserve to be loved and cared for.'

    I know it will be a hard slog ahead, to get to the point where you no longer feel ashamed of your medical condition, but you WILL get there. Then you can leave other people to react to your news in their own way, and go on living your beautiful life.

  53. Bill Bixby from Canada writes: I get that depressed people need to ask for help, but where do they find this help? If I need a plumber I just look in the phone book but this seems different... do the depressed get a refferal from their doctor?
  54. Ray Heard from Canada writes: May I suggest reading Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom?
    He gives us an inspiring lesson on how to prevail in the most depressing of times. That won't cure depressed people; it may show there can be a way out in due course.
  55. Lori Forte from Canada writes: Sarah, there is no 'snapping out', but there is a way out. Patience with yourself and from those who love you; the correct medication and perhaps counselling WILL help you out of the cesspool that is 'depression'. I know because I have just travelled the road myself and also know that what you have written is true. There is good evidence that genetics and a very real chemical imbalance are the brain source of depression - does this not sound like a disease that can be treated with medicine? Do we have to berate ourselves for taking medication to cure a disease. Absolutely not. You will get your life back.
  56. John Sullivan from Halifax, Canada writes: What a great article. My High School girlfriend, now wife of 20 years has been severely depressed for over 10 years. This disease has paralyzed our family. She won't go out, we don't entertain, I have to do all the kids activities because she can't. I'm not certain if she takes her meds, but she stopped going to therapy. It takes a long time to realize that it is the 'disease' that is yelling at you and your kids and not your wife and their mother. When she's really angry & depressed, we all go into hiding in other parts of the house or find someplace else to be. I worry about what the future will bring and whether our kids will even want to be around later in life. Prayer is the only thing that helps keep all this in some perspective.
  57. Binder Dundat from Canada writes:
    To the author:

    I've been in the hole, too. Walked against what feels like a terrible incline or headwind.

    May I recommend reading William Styron's 'Darkness Visible'?
  58. Kay Chan from Canada writes: Thank you for this honest explanation of depression, Sarah. I was diagnosed with depression about a month and a half ago, but I'd been suffering from it for about 15 years. Too often I was told to just suck it up and that 'depression doesn't exist'. I finally decided to seek therapy when my behaviour started affecting my friends and family.

    I got lucky and found medication that helped me get out of this pit. I will work to eradicate the sources of depression from my life (as much as I can), and eventually, I know I'll be able to be happy without chemical intervention.

    I know you'll be able to pull out of it. If you have to see different therapists (my original one was definitely not sympathetic to me), try different meds, try alternative forms of help, do it... as long as it takes. Good luck.
  59. richard richard from Canada writes: Excellent article Sarah, thank you for so accurately and bravely expressing the agony of depression. This quote provides a good description , in my opinion:
    Depression is such cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying with concern. Just the slow erosion of the self, as insidious as any cancer. And, like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience. A room in hell with only your name on the door. I realize that every person, at some point, takes up residence in one or other of these rooms. But the realization offers no great comfort now.

    As others have indicated, medication does help, and there is a new type called buproprion which doesn’t have the side effects (for me anyway) as other anti-depressants.
    I personally don’t get too hung up about the stigma of depression, so what if others don’t fully understand it. I can’t do much to about what other people think, I have enough battles trying to control what I think
  60. Kim Philby from Canada writes: I'm starting to wonder if the pandemic we should really be worrying about is depression.

    For those who go off their meds because they don't want to take drugs 'forever': after I went off mine I started to crash and burn, so I went for a prescription refill. My doctor said that patients often stop their meds after they've felt better for a time, but the trick is to stay on them until the brain learns to adjust to the new levels of neurotransmitters; once the brain reaches that state of equilibrium, you can taper off the meds. The amount of time it will take varies from patient to patient and, unfortunately for some, they will have to stay on the meds indefinitely.

    So, I'm going to stick with the meds for now. Besides, weaning myself off my particular medication (Effexor) was a bizarre, unpleasant experience.
  61. Bee H from Canada writes: Thanks for this article.

    The worst are the people who nod and say 'yes, I know how you're feeling'. Because most of them don't. And then they will give you all kinds of good advises they have read somewhere and if it doesn't help they will either get frustrated or annoyed, depending on character. I don't think you can really understand what's going with somebody who is severely depressed until you've been there yourself, and unless you're a professional don't pretend you can help because you're only making it worse.
  62. Is there anybody out there from Saltspring Island, Canada writes: There appears to be a common thread of thought distortion that feels not genuine to our real self (automatic thoughts) and the feeling of an inability to disenguage from these thoughts.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy works to help us relearn adaptive thoughts that will replace self defeating thoughts. It takes time and committment and a well qualified experienced and committed therapist to work with, but personally I think it is well worth the time.
  63. J Peach from Canada writes: Sarah, Thank you for your very brave story and all the best to you in your recovery from your illness.

    One other treatment modality that has not been mentioned is ECT, electroconvulsive therapy. It is quite different from the way it is somewhat scarily portrayed in movies, and my understanding is that is the gold-standard depression treatment for patients who are refractory to other modalities. Each treatment releases the brain's neurotransmitters into the synapse like a 'reset' button, and some people have treatments every couple days or every week or two for a period of months til they stabilize, then go on maintenance treatment as needed. The usual side effect is very mild memory loss. I am by no means an expert, but I just wanted to mention it because I learned about it in my health sciences school, and I believe the way it is understood in the medical profession is much more positive than the way it is portrayed in the lay media. Obviously the decision to undertake ECT would be between you and your doctor after much consultation - but I just wanted to mention that there is another treatment that has helped people with depression, beyond medications and talk therapy.
  64. little bear from Canada writes: JS Keep your posts to just under 2000 characters then all of your paras will come through. 1999 works 2000 does not.

    I think this applies to other here as well. There is a reason that
    'Characters remaining' shows on the enter your comment'
  65. wayne cho from Toronto, Canada writes: Sarah, wonderful article and good for you for speaking up about the illness and the stigma. I am currently running across Canada to raise awareness of anxiety, depression, and the stigma towards these illnesses.

    Many of us share the common goal of rising above these illnesses and we yearn for fundamental changes to how mental health is understood and handled for the status quote is simply not acceptable. I truly believe that we can speak up about these illnesses by informing one person at a time and encouraging one voice at a time. Together, our will is unbendable and our voice is undeniably strong!

    Further information about my run is available at

  66. little bear from Canada writes: Sarah. I doubt there is one single person who does ot have depression to some degree or other. Yours sounds real severe. Continue to fight. My Bro in law and Sister in Law all decided that they could not endure and ended their lives. A couple of things I did that helped. Married the most upbeat person I know. I then have another objective and that is to ensure that my issues don't bring her down with me. I also took a complete inventory of my life in a balance sheet' What things or people helped me feel better?? What things or people made me feel worse?? Increased the former and decreased the latter. I do not watch the news on TV, and don't take newspapers, nor do I read downer articles. There are days I can handle them and days I cannot. I get as much exercise especially walking with a friend as possible and spend time at the Rec centre with the kids. Being around the little beasts helps. I eliminated certain people from my list of friends. Could not do much about family but play this little mental game which helps. I consider that I am talking to a mentally slow 5 year old so when they start with the depressing news I am able to smile and nod but it does not get to me. They perhaps cannot help themselves but I don't buy into their chatter.
  67. little bear from Canada writes: JS This is depressing. I screwed up I should have said keep the posts between 1000 and 2000 characters.

  68. The Work Farce from Canada writes: Indeed. Well-written article. There's so much for a normal good-hearted compassionate person to feel sad about. Worst thing a person can do is blame themselves. Yes, personal responsibility for one's own failings; but no, don't internalize the pain inflicted by the arrogant on the vulnerable happening everywhere around us. Seems like the world has gone bad, sad, and mad. The major reason for increasing occurrence of 'depression' is the oppressive dog-eat-dog economic terrorism we live under, known as 'growing the economy' and 'business as usual', together with loss of community.We have lost a part of our humanity to become cogs in the economic machine. Better to get mad than sad and bad. Get mad at the forces inflicting pain and despair in the name of economy.Like many problems, it's easier, far more productive to prevent despair than to 'snap out' of it. Before the economy turns you into a piece of meat, isolated and hopeless, become socially, politically and culturally active in creating community of like-minded people. This country is desperately in need of a new spirit of compassion and generosity.
  69. Georgia Shand from Canada writes: Thank you, Sarah, for writing about your pain. I have had major clinical depression for four decades and you have described me, perfectly. I lie, too, when I respond to people (in a high voice, like you) and say, 'I'm fine.', when I'm not. I think of it as wearing a mask. I have been on EVERY anti-depressant that has ever been developed (plus others that have been used off label - yes, I've been a guinea pig for doctors). None of them worked. Alternative medicines did not work, either. I have gone to so many therapists that I have lost count. I've tried all the different types - might as well have saved my money. For some people, the meds and/or therapy work. That's not true for everyone and I wish that people would realize that and not assume that they do. I'm tired of having to tell people (professional and non-professional) that I've tried everything but that nothing has helped. ('Did you take this?' 'Yes.' 'Did you try that?' 'Yes.' Repeat, numerous times.) It simply drains me, especially when I see the look of doubt in their eyes - as if I just haven't worked hard enough at getting better. I have worked very hard, until this year. Friends (those who are left) and family, who know what I have, avoid the subject, completely, and act as if I'm as 'normal' as they are. It forces me to be someone I'm not and it raises my anxiety level, tremendously (anxiety and depression go hand in hand). It diminishes me but I can't change people. I'm sorry, Sarah, that I can't give you an answer because I hate to see someone else feeling this horrible. I just wanted to let you know that there is at least one other person out here who understands your frustration and pain. Thank you, again, for your article. You are very brave to have written it.
  70. Margie Hope from Canada writes: You expressed that very well. All I can do is wonder why, after all the discussion about this illness, all the literature about it, and all the medication and therapy available, is it still one of the last things we go seek help for? Why we keep waiting to snap out of it. One reason is definitely stigma, but one overwhelming hindrance is resources to get help. With all the time lost at work, the devastating affect it can have on families, and the related physical illnesses that often accompany depression, I continue to be baffled that therapy is not covered by our health care system. Even subsidized counseling clinics cost money, and if the money is not there to afford even that, it further exacerbates someones situation. My private health care plan refused to cover medication because I had taken similar medication five years earlier. Five years. It's just depressing thinking about what mechanisms aren't available to combat depression.
  71. ffname llnam from Tronna, Canada writes: CBC Radio One has on today (Thurs May 7; sometime between 1 & 2pm) something topical:

    'We'll also speak with a comedian about mental illness... and open the phones on the question: When did you get to the point where you could laugh about your problems.'

    (Part of the show Ontario Today)

    FWIW I don't think the aspect is of a comedian who as part of their public performance includes material on mental illness, it's the use of comedy as part of therapy for people so afflicted.

    Listen online:

    Or afterward:
  72. K Kal from Canada writes: little bear from Canada writes: Sarah. I doubt there is one single person who does ot have depression to some degree or other. Yours sounds real severe. Continue to fight. My Bro in law and Sister in Law all decided that they could not endure and ended their lives. A couple of things I did that helped. Married the most upbeat person I know. I then have another objective and that is to ensure that my issues don't bring her down with me. I also took a complete inventory of my life in a balance sheet' What things or people helped me feel better?? What things or people made me feel worse?? Increased the former and decreased the latter. I do not watch the news on TV, and don't take newspapers, nor do I read downer articles. There are days I can handle them and days I cannot. I get as much exercise especially walking with a friend as possible and spend time at the Rec centre with the kids. Being around the little beasts helps. I eliminated certain people from my list of friends. Could not do much about family but play this little mental game which helps. I consider that I am talking to a mentally slow 5 year old so when they start with the depressing news I am able to smile and nod but it does not get to me. They perhaps cannot help themselves but I don't buy into their chatter.

    This person has a good game plan for battling depression and 'negative people'
  73. Melissa Yu from Toronto, Canada writes: Dear Sarah,

    What an honest, well-written article.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  74. C H from Montreal, Canada writes: As others have mentioned, electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT has been around for quite a while and has proven incredibly successful in treating otherwise unrelenting cases of depression.
    In addition, ECT generally has fewer side effects than medications do, and a very high success rate.
    Please, if you have not yet explored this option, look into it.
    It is done safely in a normal hospital setting, as an out-patient treatment.
    If you look at large hospitals near you, I'm sure that there are doctors who practice ECT. It might be worthwhile to inquire.
    Good luck, and all the best.
  75. A T from Canada writes: Good article. I hope my comment doesn't get marked as spam but the NYT Magazine has a long article similar to this on depression this coming weekend. Here's the link:
  76. Theo Zivo from Canada writes: Sarah McCaffrey writes: I've always felt like it's something inside me, always there even if I can't feel it at one particular moment. It does feel black, but more like a black swamp, a heavy, wet, cloying ooze that bubbles up from inside my chest and spreads throughout my body, weighing me down. -------------------- Having survived the living nightmare that is clinical depression, I can speak from personal experience that McCaffrey's description of the black dog is bang on the money. And exhortations from friends, family and colleagues to 'just snap out of it' were ill-advised at best. Fortunately, my depression was managed by medication, and once I was thinking clearly with the help of Paxil, I worked through some cognitive behaviour therapy that was tremendously beneficial. But it's a tightrope. I often awake with a feeling of dark dread, wondering, 'Will this be the day that the black dog comes back?' And when life delivers body blows - as it tends to do from time to time - my awareness of the growling, black beast in the corner of my psyche is heightened. It's always there; it never goes away. I can manage as long as it stays in the corner. How long it will stay there is anybody's guess. It's in the corner today, and I hope it will be there tomorrow, making its presence felt. But there are no guarantees.
  77. Morgan Macnair from Canada writes: Thank you so much for sharing -- you've made a genuine difference in thousands of lives just by publishing this. Please do what you need to do to get through this and take as long as you need. If it means quitting your job and living on a deserted island for ten years (or the exact opposite), so be it. I hope you have the strength to put yourself first, to remove as many stresses as you can, to continue talking with people -- there are so many who want to help and want to hear you. Practice giving standardized responses to those who are dismissive or in any way unhelpful: try to find a way to immediately neutralize them and don't let their comments -- which are most certainly reflections of their own inner problems and issues and have nothing to do with you-- have a negative impact on your state.

    Take care of yourself, and keep writing, you are very talented.
  78. Ruby Wallace from Hamilton, Canada writes: Thanks for your courage and honesty .. as an adult, I've only had one episode but I don't tell many people about it (had a couple as a teenager but I like to believe it was so long ago that it doesn't count). Fortunately, I have been mostly in remission for a year, but it terrifies me when I start feeling down again, fearing that it will come back. You're never ever really free of depression .. and the scarier thing is that every episode a person has increases the likelihood that there will be a next one. So even when it's 'gone', it's not gone. It's always lurking around even on the sunniest days ... always threatening to move in forever ...
  79. G. M. from comox, Canada writes: I don't get depressed very often so I don't know what it's like long term but for me it can get pretty black and catatonic. I have learned if I stop thinking of MYself (Ok that's not easy Lol) and MY problems and MY feelings and get up and do something for SOMEONE ELSE.. and for free, I'm good to go again. It's like magic.
    It makes me wonder if some of the more seriously depressed also get into a 'woe is me' cycle or spiral and all I hear is about their attempts and drugs to make themselves feel better, but in the end it's always all about them. Just a thought, but a positive one that can't hurt.
  80. d w from from west of TO, Canada writes: Sarah, my thots are with you. I crashed Oct/08 and was diagnosed as being severely depressed and suffering from acute anxiety. I was fortunate as my employer understood the illnesses. It had an employee help line which I used and saw a counsellor the same day I called. Depression remains umisnderstood today and you are correct in your assessment that it carries a stigma with it - but only if you allow it to. I received unconditional support and love from my family, colleagues, clients and professional associates and also had a therapist who practiced a balanced approach of counselling and medication. I was off work on a medical leave for six weeks and came back initially on a part time basis. It was only when I accepted my illness was not my fault and the stigma was not my problem but the problem of those who (now) saw me in a lesser light that I was able to make considerable, positive progess towards getting better. Different people require different solutions but I will remain on meds until the day I die; and I'm fine with that as I like myself much better on meds than off. Find a practitioner whom you trust implicitly and be prepared to work hard to recover your health. I never worked harder during my recovery which included cognitive restructuring (or learning how to view the world with a new perspective). Good luck in getting better; it's worth the effort.
  81. Notapseudointellectual . from Canada writes: This brought me to tears - most just don't understand how painful depression can be. I can relate to every word you wrote.
  82. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Sarah, Iím sadden by your experience with depression. You wrote a very good article describing the unspeakable pain that a person with depression goes through everyday. I, on the other hand, am on opposite end of the spectrum. Iím an extreme optimist with a child- like hope/passion for Godís kingdom. You mentioned that you tried almost everything, but you havenít tried the God dimension. Since you havenít given up the fight to get better, I thought I would set you off on a different drug-free direction. In the bible, Godís sentence for Adam when he took the forbidden fruit; he is to work (or through painful toil) and by the sweat of his brow he would eat for all the days of his life. I would suggest you accept this sentence for yourself, start by getting to know God better by going to a good Christian church and joining their bible study sessions to gain head knowledge. In daily routine terms, I suggest you do 3 things. First and foremost, work up a good sweat everyday through working or sports because sweat will help you release stress and will also help your body to rejuvenate. Second, listen to your body and create a good diet that suites your body and to maintain a good body weight. Third, create small work projects that you would enjoy like; gardening, re-painting your house, doing wood-work around the house, cooking, making new dresses, etc. Make sure you stay focus and achieve little successes in your little pet projects. (continue)
  83. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: For example, making cookies; make sure you have exhausted yourself on the knowledge of flour/sugar/chocolates/nuts/etc, cooking times/temperatures/techniques/etc, and the result cookies should look/taste better & better. It is through working up a good sweat, making small and incremental successes at your work, you will feel better about yourself. On the physical body side, God gave us “work & sweat” to produce a happy and healthy body. On the spiritual side, we all need hope to live on; it is the hope in our LORD. God did not create people to become despair and hopeless. Everyone is created by God for a purpose, God’s purpose. When you fulfill God’s purpose for you, you will begin to understand God’s love, joy, and peace. This is the secret of my optimism, hopefully, it can help you.
  84. The Wet One from The frozen wastes of Canuckdom, Canada writes: I myself am quite thankful that my own depression has been largely alleviated by chemicals. There is a remarkable chemistry going on in my brain where when I take Effexor, the gloom is lifted, when I'm off it, the gloom returns.

    I've lived most of my life a few steps from self destruction due to my depression. In fact, it's sort of odd to live without thinking about suicide every day. Thankfully, I'm one of the lucky (luckier?) ones where chemicals alone have restored my brain function. Of course, the years of altered thinking have permanently shifted my worldview from the norm, but I think this is a good thing. The world is not only that seen through the somewhat rose coloured glasses that is 'normal.' There is value in the depressive mind, as it sees truths that are hidden from day to day view. That said, I'm happier to be blind to those truths, even though they are deeply seared into my psyche.
  85. Kim Philby from Canada writes: Patrick: it's really inappropriate to bring your obsession with God and religion into every topic. If religion is supposed to be such a personal spiritual thing, as so many religious claim, then start living up to that and keep it to yourself.
  86. HD C from Montreal, Canada writes: Dear Sarah, as someone who also lives in pain, isolation, loneliness, despair ... I believe I share some of your pain. Not all, your a woman, I'm a man, but the men are not better off. Where does it come from? I wonder if it is not from sympathy with others, too much sympathy? When I look out at the world, what I see is pain, isolation, loneliness and despair. Usually I keep my trap shut, just like you, cause a winer is a looser in this make-believe society. Nobody, not even those professional psychiatrists want to hear the negative side, that side that keeps us deep in depression. Love is a joy killer too. Love kills you at 16, then at 26 and then at 66 (my age). Your wife tells you she is leaving... You look back at the failure of your marriage. And the worst is not being able to love someone, at whatever age. If there is someone to love, one's life is more doable. Being alone and not able to love others is really the end of it all. I wish you luck, Sarah. But I have no idea how to get out of depression, tried for 40 years now ... only love can save us. How to find it or receive it is another of those impossible things in life ... I shake your hand from Montreal.
  87. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Kim, I not sure whether you meant well or not with your comment, but you are not helping. For your information, there are many proven cases that religious faith based counseling do work, especially in areas of addictions in drug/gambling/alcohol/etc. If the cause of depression is non-clinical, there are scores of cases that religious faith basis counseling does work. I’m just trying to shed some light and hope into a situation that is otherwise hopeless. When people spiraled into a dark hole of despair and hopelessness, it’s a very sad place to be. People desperately needed to hang on to a hope to pull themselves out. The hope in the LORD is the most powerful hope that I know with absolute certainty. God’s wisdom on “work & sweat” is written for people that accept it, exercise it, one will eventually receive the hope in the LORD. Hopefully, this HOPE can help others who are also suffering from depression.
  88. it's a fact from Canada writes: G. M. from comox, Canada writes: I don't get depressed very often so I don't know what it's like long term but for me it can get pretty black and catatonic. I have learned if I stop thinking of MYself (Ok that's not easy Lol) and MY problems and MY feelings and get up and do something for SOMEONE ELSE.. and for free, I'm good to go again. It's like magic.
    It makes me wonder if some of the more seriously depressed also get into a 'woe is me' cycle or spiral and all I hear is about their attempts and drugs to make themselves feel better, but in the end it's always all about them. Just a thought, but a positive one that can't hurt.

    are you serious? it's all about them? actuallly my depression has been triggered by the people around me - currently, my niece who has leukemia. It is because of the pain I see on her parents and brothers faces; it's because i worry about them. yes, there is some 'woe is me' but too make it sound selfish is just ridiculous. And by the way, it's not like we WANT to feel this way. It's an illness. or did you not get that from the article?
  89. Carli Staub from Ottawa, Canada writes: B Reynolds: I didn't create the stigma that comes with having depression. I don't carry it around with me. Others carry it and project it onto me, through genuine misunderstanding or wilful refusal to accept the reality of mental illness as physical illnes. When I was fired the day after I disclosed that I had major depression to my boss, I did not create her reaction - she reacted based on her personal stigma about depression. Sarah: I felt I could have written this piece (were I as gifted with prose as you). As many others have said, you have described major depression perfectly. Thank you for having the courage to admit to the country that you have depression. I know it's hard even telling an acquaintance. Like others who have commented, when I explain my depression to people (and I try to do that more and more, I am over the shame of having depression, and am trying to just be honest about how I am feeling when someone asks) I liken it to diabetes. I say, my brain doesn't make enough of certain chemicals, so I take medication. I also eat well, exercise and get a good amount of sleep. I talk to a counselor regularly. Even though I do all those things, sometimes I still have a depressive episode, the way a diabetic can have blood sugar problems even if they take their insulin. I don't control my depression any more than anyone else with a chronic condition. Anyway, thanks for sparking an important conversation, Sarah, and thanks to the G&M for giving us this forum to express ourselves.
  90. Linda F from Toronto, Canada writes: As everyone else has already said - thank your for your courage and honesty. Along with many others here, and yourself, I have suffered on and off from major depression for the past 12 years. The part I find the hardest to deal with is the reaction of those who become frightened by your illness and avoid you. Intellectuallly, I understand that it's their fear that they too could wind up in such a vulnerable position, but it still really hurts to be rejected for something you have no control over (particularly when people think you should be controlling it). From the depths of my being I want to scream at them that they don't understand, I cannot make this go away on my own. I makes me very cautious about who I tell. The word stigma has been used a lot in these posts, but I think it's really the fear of being misunderstood and rejected.
  91. Philip De Groot from Toronto, Canada writes: Major Depressive Disorder is a real illness. It has high levels of heritability meaning that there is a strong genetic component. One's genetic makeup contributes to vulnerability or lack of "resilience". In essence our genes establish our mechanisms for coping with stress or trauma. The less robust your inherited mechanisms for dealing with stress are the more likely you are to become depressed. Early childhood experiences also play a huge role in our resilience. Humans do not start to develop conscious memories until they are 2 or 3 years old. Up to that time all learning is done at the sub-conscious level. We do not have conscious access to what our sub-conscious learned even though the lessons learned by the sub-conscious govern much of our psyche. If we "learn" that the world is a safe place as infants we will probably spend our lives presuming things will "work out". This means that any given set of circumstances will be less stressful for the person who believes the world is a safe place than they will for the person who "learned" as an infant that the world is not a safe place.

    Primary care givers (PCGs) are responsible for most of the "lessons" learned by infants. Even a good PMG can leave a child with a sense of insecurity if s/he has a different temperment than his/her child -s/he will not know how to make his/her baby feel safe. Recent research done at McGill on suicide victims demonstrates that PMG neglect or rejection is as damaging as sexual abuse, and as likely to lead to suicide.

    Negative life experiences can also induce epigenetic changes in the genome resulting in a profound change in gene expression. Given enough stress genes coding for stress modulators will be switched off leading to a chronic stress state a.k.a. major depression. Likewise bipolar disorder involves "switching on" the disease genes through stress induced epigenetic gene expression. Nurture affects nature. Mental illness is a genetic condition -one that I share.
  92. David any from Canada writes: Hey Wet describe me exactly. Depressed at 20 years of age...and so on every other year til I found first Prozac ...then Paxil and now Effexor. I did Prozac for one year and felt cured. Then I got cancer. Paxil fixed me up in days.(I went deer hunting even). I went through the electric storm when I went off Paxil and was off them for about 5 years...I got divorced and went on Effexor . Now I take 75 mg every day. I won't go off it. I have had three small bouts of depression and came ou of it.
    I don't even think about possible future problems because it is so nice to wake up and go...Wow I want to do something today instead of...well I guess I should get up and go through the motions because thats what society demands of me.
    Just so people don't think this is an advertisment I actually take the cheap generic equivalent. I can drink alchol in moderation. Cheap drunk.
    I am lucky to have had modern science fix me to an extent. Some don't react to the drugs. I feel sorry for them. The clouds never burn off. Depression makes you a bit of an empath. You feel the sorrow other people feel and well a lot of people have problems . Depressives are too sensitive. Those who aren't sensitive don't get depressed.
  93. Honest Feedback from Ottawa, Canada writes: You are not alone and yes, it is a long and complex process to be able to "snap out of it"... In my experience, it takes a combination of many things: specialized medical diagnosis and treatment, constant and positive therapy support, active live to get distracted, eliminate bad environments and distance toxic people, and personal commitment... i took me a loooong time but I was able to snapped out of it... i still need to be careful but i managed to create a better life for myself and stop medication. I also agree that even close friends/family cannot understand that depression is an illness and it could be very disappointing for the affected person, that's why it is better to deal the downside with professionals who are prepared to deal with that. I wish you the best for all of those who are in that situation and believe that there is a way out!!
  94. Georgia Shand from Canada writes: Off topic but could someone tell me why my paragraphs don't show up as paragraphs when I submit my comments? What am I doing wrong?
  95. Philip De Groot from Toronto, Canada writes: Neuroscience is advancing rapidly due to development of new tools that make it possible to study the brain. Its function is altered in depression and some parts of the brain shrink which is evidence of plasticity. The "chemical imbalance" theory of depression has been replaced by the more complex neuroplasticity theory. For example: stress/depression suppresses growth of neurons in a region (dentate gyrus) of the brain; serotonin stimulates growth of these neurons. Depression is a state where the physiological mechanisms of the human stress response are in a chronic state of mobilization, even in the absence of external stressors. This involves chronic overproduction/raised serum levels of corticosteroids (steroids made by the adrenal cortex) such as cortisol. Chronic overexposure to cortisol fundamentally alters many physiological processes by inducing anatomical and functional changes in many regions including the brain. Metabolism, immunity, cognition (learning, concentration), and emotional processing are changed by overexposure to cortisol. Serotonin affects cortisol levels. Another corticosteroid (acronym DHEA) may also be involved. There is growing but mixed evidence that DHEA counteracts the damaging effects of cortisol. The ratio of DHEA to cortisol is lower in depressed patients many of whom benefit from DHEA therapy. DHEA receptors have been discovered indicating DHEA is an active hormone supporting claims that it can affect mood (previously it was deemed to be a hormone precursor with no physiological function). There is some evidence that the psychiatric community is not keeping up with developments in "brain science". Many still treat major depression with antidepressants alone while current best practices dictate augmenting antidepressants with mood stabilizers and/or an atypical antipsychotics -regardless of the fact that the patient does not need mood stabilization and is not experiencing psychosis.
  96. henderson martins from Toronto, Canada writes: My god so well put. The last few months I have been fighting this deep depressionand Im afraid it has already cost me a close friend. I have a great family woderful job with fabulous co-workers yet my depression is there. So hang on the light is at the end of the tunnel and we will survive.
  97. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Many thanks to Philip for giving an update on the latest medical research on depression. However, I still think we are still in the stone-ages in terms of finding a cure for mental illness. I want to write a little to give a biblical perspective on why we have spiritual problems. From the bible, in Genesis 2:7 "the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.", in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." We Christians believe the breath of life from God is the act of God giving us a soul, which separates us from all other living creatures on earth. We are created in the image of God, one of the characteristics of God's image is the deep yearning for our soul to be connected with God. This explains throughout history and across all civilizations, there is this unexplainable fear of the dark, demons and ghosts. People of different cultures worshiping their idol gods. Atheism is a relatively young culture ranging from modern to post-modern era, but people still fear the dark, demons and ghosts. (continue)
  98. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: When a person reaches an age of maturity, there is a deep seeded yearning to be connected with a higher spiritual power. It could be an idol god (a disguised form of Satan), which usually lead to a ruin life, but it will take a life time to find out. On the other hand, if the person is a successful atheist, he would skilfully numb his spiritual yearning with loud/deafening music, keeping himself busy at work, doing sports/errands/clueless shopping/talking on the phone, seeking thrills after thrills, excitement after excitement, toping thrills with more excitement the next day, soaking himself in the joy of sin on sex/drugs/lust for money and power, kill any idle time surfing the net/gaming/gambling/drinking/etc, he would do just about anything but a quiet moment to reflect upon himself. If you lock this person up in a dark room for more than 5 hours, it is considered torture. When a person experiences depression, it could mean this person is not a successful atheist or lack the resources to numb out the spiritual yearnings, unable to protect himself from failure/rejection, unable to stab others in the back to get ahead in life, unable to face his inner-self and the sinful nature of man around him, unable to see the meaning of life, unable to the handle the hopelessness, unable to handle the void of vast emptiness, unable to find energy to carry on the everyday same-old and more same-olds. On the other hand, if this person connects with God, he will receive answers from God, God will help him achieve successes on many levels, he will find meaning in life and would enjoy his everyday routines, he would enjoy moments of devotion/meditation with God, he no longer fear the dark, demons or ghosts, he is full of energy and an extreme optimist because God is always with him.
  99. little bear from Canada writes: Kim Regarding Patrick and his position.

    I am not religious but have had a close association with a Christian counselling group here in B. C. for some time and have seen first hand some of their successes. Contrary to your understanding perhaps, they do not thump the Bible but it is clear that they approach issues from a more Spiritual basis.

    Any of these counsellors are trained in the same manner as non Christian counsellors and are licenced and insured to professional standards.

    I cannot talk to some counselling people get in a Church but from my experience there is a spiritual component to depression.
  100. Purple Rain from Toronto, Canada writes: I saw the article in print and then came online 'cause I wanted to see that a lot of people had commented -- and they have! I have suffered from depression in the past -really for 10 years almost-but I've been better for eight. I'm mostly fine now and function very well (fairly glamorous, high-pressure job, full life) but every once in a while I have a few days where I fear I might be going into the abyss again. At those times, even though I know it's not true, I look around and I think no-one else ever feels this way or feels this bad. Everyone else feels fine and has perfect mental health. "I must be the only person like this, there is something defective about me, I'm so alone," I think. And the stigma is still out there, I fear if I ever have to take leave from work, how embarrassing that would be, etc. Anyway, I like that a lot of people wrote (100 now) because it shows I am not alone and that there are understanding people out there. I will remember that when (no, if) I have bad days again.
    AND I have thought about writing something like Sarah, but I would be too chicken to use my own name. So, Sarah, you're my hero. I'm proud of you and impressed, and by writing publicly, you are part of a force that is chipping away at that stigma. And that is such important, worthwhile work.
  101. Doris Wrench Eisler from St. Albert, Canada writes: There is nothing more annoying than inappropriate advice when you are fighting depression. I would just like to say, and tune me out if I'm off the mark here, but I think Sarah MCCaffrey should try to put the "dark ooze" inside her into some kind of perspective. No one deserves to suffer so profoundly, and I'm sure she definitely doesn't. Depression is different and much more complicated than sadness: it sometimes involves guilt, blame, resentment, hopelessness, feelings of failure and inadequacy. These don't have to be sorted out necessarily, but an effort can be made to place them in the context of the universe compared with which we and all of our problems are as bits of dust. Still, we are important; we exist and carry the spark of life which should be nurtured. Think of one wonderful or beautiful thing every day. Just thinking it makes you a part of it, in a sense. Visualize the person you would like to be and the life you would like to have. Think you will get better even if you can't feel it.
    Look up on the internet the many the famous people who have suffered with depression. MCCaffery is definitely not alone.
  102. Thinkingman FromCanada from Canada writes: I commented early on, but I would like to add I enjoyed most of the comments, except for the truly insensitive, ignorant ones.
    With empathy. Kevin.

  103. James T from Toronto, Canada writes: 1. Kudos for being so brave to share this.
    2. I'm so encouraged by all the other positive feedback from commentators.

    Like you said, Sarah, everyone's situation is different. For me, leaving full-time work was the best thing I ever did for my spirit. My bank account, not so much. But what good is money if you're miserable?

    I also found a book by Martha Beck, Finding Your Own North Star, to be extremely helpful.
  104. jim moore from Moncton, Canada writes: thanks for the honesty , intelligence and encouragement everyone.I Have been somewhat successfull with standard depression management as mentioned by several previous contributors.It's been a mostly solitary ten year difficult process and i have a great social safety net of support.I have recently quit a job of thirty years, sold a house and left the country.Currently working as an ESL in Asia.Off the meds for ten months now.So far so good it's working for me.Still have the illness just changed my surroundings so I now have new things to occupy my racing mind.A twenty hr work week fits my energy level.I Feel in control for the first time in a long while.It's only been eight months but whenever the other shoe drops i will have more tool in the box to fix the problem.
    Keep the drive alive everyone
  105. Bruce Mowat from Oakville, writes: Sarah you have opened up one of the most needed dialogues society has ever required. Good for you. I am 69 years old and have suffered from clinical depression all my life. It is who I am. I used to drink thinking that would cure it. But it never did and I quit. How could I be lonely in a sea of people? Why am I the only one facing problems? etc, etc. Low self esteem. etc. Recently I was the same as you. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning. And I have on the surface an exciting job which I have no intention of quitting. I am an Investment Advisor. The Doc gave me anti depressants which I realized were driving me into the ground. So I quit them. Thank goodness. Now I will give you my solution which I am trying to work out. I became a born-again Christian about twelve years ago. I have always believed in God but I had never understood the meaning of His Word. As I study it it becomess clearer and clearer that we are not alone. We are all different. He gives some of us burdens which He uses to grow us up. I am probably out of space so I will end by suggesting that if you are interested in receiving Jesus Christ into your life watch the TV ministry of Dr. Charles Stanley out of First Baptist Atlanta (InTouch Ministries) and secondly He is probably asking you to use your troubles to help yourself and help others. You have opened a dialogue which the professional just can't understand. They mostly have their act together and like most people they are terrified of letting themselves be open and share. You have just done that. Therefore you are frankly the go to person and can set up a system to help people such as ourselves. If you feel like meeting to discuss and outline of a solution let me know. God bless you Sarah. He knows your heart. And He loves you.
  106. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Bruce Mowat, greetings to a beloved brother in Christ, a fellow Baptist. I see you in here exemplifying your call of "being the light of the world and the salt of the earth". I wish there are more like you coming out to share their success stories, to shine a light in a situation which otherwise is hopeless. May God be with you and always, God Bless.
  107. Kim Philby from Canada writes: Patrick: you are going beyond being unhelpful; you're dispensing bad advice. You think that, because you've "found" God, that's the answer for everybody. You don't recognize it, but your obsession with God, as reflected in your posts on every Globe and Mail topic, borders on the pathological. You wear your religion like a wealthy person wears a sable coat. Even your moniker - Christian Warrior - reeks of egotism and arrogance. The subtext of all your posts is "Look at me - I have a special understanding of, and relationship with, God!! I'm more spiritual!!"

    I suspect your delusions will one day come crashing down around you, and, like us other mere mortals, you'll have to switch your drug from religion to Prozac or Paxil.
  108. Doris Wrench Eisler from St. Albert, Canada writes: I agree that some types of religious belief border on the pathological, and if there is a god, He/She should be insulted at the idea that extreme pain and suffering is interpreted as His/Her means of making us "better". How much pain is enough? It is like saying you need to cut off your arm to become aware you are leaning on a sharp object. Physical pain would be useless in that case and serious depression doesn't work that way either- not when it sometimes takes away your will to live. I prefer to think of the creativity of the world and universe - even if we destroyed Earth completely - it would renew itself once again without us. Genius is associated with creativity, not destruction, not useless pain. When my personal experiences of depression begin to mesh with the utter stupidity of our stewardship of Earth, this is what keeps me going.
    Incidentally, didn't Christ say not to wear your beliefs and personal relationship with your god on your sleeve? Don't pray and preach in public?
    Because then you have already received your reward?
  109. JMFT S from Canada writes: Hi Sarah,

    Kudos for stepping up! You are an extremely good writer as well. I suffered from post partum depression for one solid year. It was pure hell. I never told anyone and no one guessed. I was terrified 'they' would take my children away if 'they' new how much I was suffering.

    I come from a family who are, for the most, part very accomplished but nevertheless vulnerable to mental illness but the post partum depression was all that I've ever really suffered. It was not until my son developed schizophrenia that I decided to 'come out of the closet'. I joined three community mental health volunteer groups and started what we call a Mental Health and Wellness Community Cafe where the public can come to talk informally about topics related to mental health. We've been going for a year now and have just been approved for a grant to help cover our minimal costs. Yea! It is a great feeling to be able to discuss openly issues in terms of a mental health perspective. We have mental health consumers, family and just plain interested public attending. Stigma be dammed!!
  110. it's a fact from Canada writes: JMFT S from Canada writes: Hi Sarah,

    Kudos for stepping up! You are an extremely good writer as well. I suffered from post partum depression for one solid year. It was pure hell. I never told anyone and no one guessed. I was terrified 'they' would take my children away if 'they' new how much I was suffering.

    That is what happened to me too. i commend you for discussing it in the open. i try to do the same, especially with my pregnant friends. I want them to know that it happens and where/how to get treatment. Because like you, I was terrified and thought they would take my child away and lock me up for good. fortunately, my doctor knew her stuff and sent me to a specialist. otherwise I may not be alive today. I don't want others to suffer because they don't know what to do.
  111. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Doris Wrench wrote: " Incidentally, didn't Christ say not to wear your beliefs and personal relationship with your god on your sleeve? >>> I'm not sure where you heard this from but it is on the contrary. For the record, this is from the bible, in Acts 1:8 NIV "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.", and in Acts 13:47 NIV 47For this is what the Lord has commanded us: " 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." >>> We Christians are to preach, that's why we are called the evangelicals, we will get into trouble if we don't. God has given everyone a free-will to believe or not, it's up to God to soften one's heart for them to accept Christ Jesus. Christians were already chosen by God long before the creation of the world. A Chinese proverb once said "It's easier to change kingdoms than to change one's character". This statement is so true for the secular world but not to God, only God can change a person's "heart" at will. Just ask the millions upon millions of born-again Christians and they can tell you how their lives have changed since becoming a Christian and become a good witness for God. But God did made the promise, for anyone who seeks him in earnest and constantly knocks on His door, He will answer. (continue)
  112. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: If a persons accepts Christ Jesus as the son of God, born of Holy Spirit, dies on the cross for his sins, resurrects 3 days after, later ascended to the heavens to prepare room for us, and He will return for us one day, then he is a Christian. How it works is this; if you accept this truth openly and in your heart, repent your sins and pray for His forgiveness, and if forgiven, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit. Once you receive, or being baptized, by the Holy Spirit, you will have a strong sensation of relieve, a huge load of burden unloaded off your chest, all the wrongs/guilt/hurts that you have done or been done to you wash away through your unstoppable tears running from your eyes. Well, this is the normal account of Christians receiving their Holy Spirit, not always. From that moment forward, the Holy Spirit dwells in your body every moment of the day, the Holy Spirit counsels you and protects you, dark evil spirits will run in fear of you, when you read the bible you will gain understanding, when in crisis/emergency situations, the Holy Spirit can help you make split-second decisions that will give you lasting peace. If you believe God created the heaven and the earth, His wisdom is higher than yours, everything that happened to you is according to His will and for His purpose for you, and if you accept His will and your purpose of being, it will go down a lot easier and you will eventually see His purpose. Just a hint; People in general mature faster through pain. If you do not, you can resist/fight Him tooth to the nail, you can scream/shout/cry about it, but you are not going to change anything.
  113. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Kim Philby wrote: "I suspect your delusions will one day come crashing down around you, and, like us other mere mortals, you'll have to switch your drug from religion to Prozac or Paxil." >>> Try to play nice. Your words here borderline on cursing a Christian. You do not want to curse a people or someone that is blessed by God because God will take vengeance for His beloved sons/daughters. And I don't want you to be in a more difficult trial than it already is. You may have had a bad experience with Christianity or a run-in with a false-Christian (a disguised Satan representative). I'm sorry if it is so, but you can pick-out the bad apples or the false-Christians quite easily; they do not walk-the-talk, they call themselves Christians but know next to nothing about God, words from their mouths are just as vile as the people you detest, and they live their life just like a typical secular person. When you spot them, distance yourself from these "toxic people" as one poster has suggested.
  114. Doris Wrench Eisler from St. Albert, Canada writes: Patrick the Christian Warrior - god will take vengeance? Is this what you claim to know about god that others don't?And don't quote the bible again as there are all kinds of things in there you would never teach children, or anyone at all. This is the sort of dismal narrative the world can do without. You threaten others but pull the god card when you perceive a slight - (this is the third millennium, right?) Sounds both superstitious and unbelievably arrogant - no one has a monopoly on god. By the way, "Christian" is just a word, calling yourself a Christian and following Christ's example are not synonymous - and "example" is the key word, not preachiness. Is a "genuine" Christian vengeful? Does he/she swing god or Christ around like a club? I rather doubt it. I can't quote the scripture but I have read it - don't pray or make a show of your religion to enhance your status in the community or "you have already received your reward".
  115. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Doris Wrench Eisler wrote: Patrick the Christian Warrior - god will take vengeance? Is this what you claim to know about god that others don't?And don't quote the bible again as there are all kinds of things in there you would never teach children, or anyone at all. >>> Now, you are being foolish. For the record, this is what God said in Isaiah 35:4 NIV say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. >>> I didn't made it up, these are God's words. Christians are not to revenge the wrongs that are done to us, vengeance is God's job. You might have mistaken the Christian God the Almighty with other powerless idol gods. Our LORD the Almighty is about Righteousness/Love/Holiness/Blessings, and make no mistake, He will punish sin to uphold righteousness, and the price of sin is death. I'm sorry if I didn't articulated that too well, but I hope you got the picture. Before you go off into a rage of anger, just ponder on who God is, don't raise your fist to Him, try to accept He is God, and things will turn out better for you. God can turn things around for you or against you at His will, it could happen in the next minute.
  116. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Doris wrote: I can't quote the scripture but I have read it - don't pray or make a show of your religion to enhance your status in the community or "you have already received your reward". >>> Just to settle your anger further, this is the quote you are trying to find. In Matthew 6:5 NIV "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." >>> These are Jesus' words to disciples not to be like the Pharisees (Jewish religious leaders) at the time. However, I do receive reward points towards getting my crown in heaven when you eventually get converted and become a Christian. The definition of Christian is a follower of Christ, it is written in the book of Acts, just look it up.
  117. Bee Shepherd from T, Canada writes: This article so completely mirrors my experience, it is uncanny. Thank you Sarah for showing us that we are not alone as we battle daily with this illness. Your article was so well written, so accurate and very brave. May we all find a treatment that helps us with this disease. Take care
  118. Doris Wrench Eisler from St. Albert, Canada writes: Patrick the Christian - I don't know why I bandy words with you - maybe it's because out here, I feel the hot breath of fundamentalists more than
    I would elsewhere, or maybe I find your reasoning amusing. It's all about points isn't it, and a huge ledger in the sky: god's accountants - not to speak of his henchmen. How boring, unconvincing, and silly, missing the forest for the trees. Unfortunately, such thinking has caught on like wildfire in the US, which must look to reasonable people like the great majority of Europeans, for instance, like a catapult right back to the Dark Ages. I am not opposed to Christ's philosophy and precepts which are, I believe about love and forgiveness - seeing yourself in the other. I am opposed to didacticism like yours and you will wait a very long time before you make "points toward my crown in heaven" off me.
  119. Patrick The Christian Warrior from Canada writes: Doris, I can wait. I'm 47 and hopefully, I can live long enough to witness your conversion, and if not, I will see you in heaven when it's your time. I pray for God's mercy on you.
  120. Pierre Picard from Gatineau, Canada writes: Dear Sarah,

    The struggles of depressive persons are not easily understood. The account of your personal experience with depression has touched me; your courageous effort will benefit those who are engaged in the same fight, including my daughter.
  121. Andre W from Toronto, Canada writes: Excuse me for my ignorance about depression. But to those who suffer from depression, can you start with a question, what is it that makes you unhappy or unfulfilled or un-satisfied? Can you search deep down for the answer? once you find it, can you act on it?

    For example if you feel lonely, can you do more activities that give you a chance to meet new people? if you feel tied down by a commitment with someone, can you end the relationship? It requires effort, being honest to yourself, what is it that make you depressed? and how can you correct it?
  122. Doris Wrench Eisler from St. Albert, Canada writes: Patrick the Christian Warrior - the only concept of god I'm at all interested in is a merciful one - to all. But thanks for the good in intentions - if that's what they are.
  123. D C from United States writes: Wow these comments are so interesting. Michelle V. from Canada writes:I keep asking, 'Didn't you see I was SO sick? Didn't you see I was SO alone?' I'm being told that nobody even noticed anything was wrong...And meanwhile, I'd spent two years feeling such an intense loneliness and isolation that I could barely survive day to day. " Wow, really well said. My experience exactly. It makes me wonder when I look around at all the seemingly "happy" people that I see everyday what their internal lives are really like. Looking back I can't believe how easily I used to make assumptions about what other people were experiencing based on their appearance... The subjective experience of life is so different from the objective, and we live in a society that is very preoccupied with surfaces ... It's amazing that a person can suffer so intensely in such an intangible way that to other people they appear fine. I look at pictures of myself from two years ago - I was smiling. I look like I was happy person. No wonder people were shocked when I cut myself and started threatening to kill myself. I was suffering but could not identify the problem, could not find the words to express what was wrong and even if I had the words they didn't convey any meaning to the people that mattered. Marilyn Monroe was smiling in her last interview before she ended her life. She looked FANTASIC, obviously she didin't feel fantastic. She was in a major downward spiral and nobody could see it, much less do anything to help her . This leads me to ask: If a person can suffer so intensely without anyone even knowing, than what must it be like for the homeless people who are starving? I always used to think "that must be really awful, I can't imagine what that must feel like" Having suffered myself I think I'm a little closer to comprehending what the reality of life is for some people...
  124. Bobby the K from Dreadnaught, ON, Canada writes: ~

    I've had great healing results by eating cannabis. i fry it well in butter. the effects are long lasting and stable.

    I combine this with a good diet, quality vitamins, tonic herbs.
    and find physical exercise, yoga, meditation enhanced and fruitful.
  125. it's a fact from Canada writes: Andre W: no, it isn't as easy as answering those questions. Often one doesn't know WHY he/she is depressed. It is not that easy unfortunately. And even if you know you should go out, or get help, or whatever, finding the ability to do is very, very difficult. Did you read the article? the idea of black dogs, etc to describe it is fitting. I myself felt like it was a dark fog. one where you don't have control of your mind or your thoughts. you might realize what is logical, but you are paralyzed by the fog.
  126. rita guigon from Canada writes: (Craig Schiller from Toronto, writes: Part of the problem is that many people also use the words 'depression' and 'depressed' more casually, to mean the sort of transient bad mood that everybody gets into once in a while when a few minor inconveniences pile up at once.) I agree. There is NOTHING similar between feeling blue and having a major depression. For me, it was like living under a suffocating grey blanket--it was physically debilitating as well as mentally stifling.

    Fabien Nadeau from St-Liboire, QC, Canada wrote: Thanks. My daughter has been fighting depression for a few months...I feel so helpless. Is there a solution?

    It takes immense courage to confront this problem, because the very resources you need to fight with (energy, hope, health) are at an all time low. To start with, you have to take it on faith that you will get better--and that's very hard--but for a while, faith might be all you have as you work your way from moment to moment.

    This is my personal experience. Meds can help to take the edge off but for longterm success, I found cognitive approaches to be more helpful. (A suggestion, Feeling Good Handbook, by Dr. David Burns. No-one should try to self-help their way through a major depressive illness, but this can give you some leads.) I believe that the mind can affect the body in a positive way (and vice versa) just as in depression, it affects it negatively. Though you don't get better through an act of will (snap out of it) anything that affects your physical being for the better--a simple daily walk even if you don't feel like it (depressed people seldom feel like it) can help. For a depressed person, summoning the energy for that walk requires massive determination--as huge as facing any treatment to a life-threatening illness--but it helped me. Good diet, massage...all helpful.

    I admire people who can speak honestly of this. You are helping countless others by being forthright.

  127. George George from Canada writes: The impending collapse of the environment, an economy that demands a schizophrenic detachment that puts greed above common sense, a punctured social safety net, decay and corruption in every realm of human endeavor, failed social and economic models--if you are not depressed, you are not paying attention. Never before has the statement been more true: "Ignorance is Bliss."
  128. Lois Sannes from United States Outlying writes: Dear Sarah, You are not alone. I am one of many of your family who has suffered from profound depession. There is hope, and there is health. One of my most precious resources in dealing with depression has been a free resource: Recovery International, weekly meetings with training in how to deal with depression and other ways we stress our lives. It is practical down to earth and it works. There is a web site with lots of information and locations of meetings. There are also phone meetings for folks who are not located near a physical meeting. There is hope, there is health. You are not alone. Thanks for bravely sharing your story so familiar to many of us. Loie
  129. Steph InToronto from Toronto, Canada writes: You are not alone. the strength that it took for you to write this article is immense. I am so impressed. As someone who is 32 and also suffers the same fate, I am silent about my exsistence as well. I tell no one. i think that it is easier that way. the stigma is too much. I do see a therapist and take antidepressants and anti anxiety meds, but the stigma of family and friends is too much to deal with. Your strength on the CBC this morning was amazing. I have been writing about my struggle if you are interested:

    Good luck, Steph
  130. Zoe Morrow from Canada writes: I hope you can find a way to feel better and be happy in your life.

    Doesn't writing help?

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