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dealing with depression
Don't be intimidated.
Life was good. Until it wasn't. Because something that I can only refer to as stroke-like symptoms started to take over me, seemingly out of nowhere. A Mumford & Son's song blared in the background (I had just come home from a month long tour across the southern U.S. with them,) as I started to lose feeling in the left side of my body. First in my hand, palm and up my arm, then in my foot, calf, thigh and entire left leg. I wanted to tell my guy that something was happening to me, but I struggled to get any tangible words out of my mouth.
My friend died six weeks ago. His name was Kent Nolan. He was 25. He was talented, handsome and successful. He was an actor, a writer, and a filmmaker; the kind people call, "incredibly promising." He was a son, a brother and a friend. He was unbelievably kind.
Mental health isn't just about feeling good. As someone who has suffered with generalized anxiety disorder and subsequent depressive episodes, the last thing I want to read is feel-good drivel. What the media needs to focus on is honesty -- like the countless numbers of medications I've tried just not to have a panic attack on a subway car, the days I skipped work to lie in bed and cry (and how I always told my friends, family and employers I was sick), the pounds I shed not being able to eat in my depressive state, the long hours I spent in a therapist's office because I didn't know how to "fix my head."
We all have a defining characteristic. To accept that depression defines me means that I know who "me" is right now. That will change in the future. But for now, accepting that depression defines me means that I know who I am.
Framing a depressed person's behaviour and speech as being influenced by their illness can seem helpful. I've certainly said things like, "that's not you talking, that's your depression." But telling someone, especially someone who is suffering from a mental illness and has spent years dealing with all the stigma that comes with it, that it's not really them talking can be downright dangerous.
Did you know that interacting with nature be therapeutic for individuals with major depressive disorder? Also, your short-term memory capacity can increase by 16 per cent after a nature walk, not to mention you'll burn some calories!