Posts

Today Is Mental Health Awareness Day; And So Is Tomorrow; And The Next Day

Baby Hands

I decided to take part in Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk day, yesterday. As part of my contribution, I shared something about myself that not very many people know about and had a very hard time hitting the “Publish” button. The response to that post has been overwhelming to say the least and I appreciated all the kind messages I received, both publicly and privately.

I went into the day not knowing how I felt about the corporate tag being attached to the concept of speaking out about mental health and I wasn’t alone. I saw a lot of discussion surrounding the issue, some reasonable and some just bashing for the sake of bashing, but I wanted to add my thoughts to the discussion. The reason I decided to share my story on this particular day was because I knew that I would be able to generate more discussion than if I posted it on any other day. It wasn’t about the page views; it was about starting a dialogue. And it worked.

For me, the day changed from a corporate marketing event to the real deal when I received this comment from a complete stranger, “After reading your story I now feel that there may be light at the end of this and it’s as easy as talking to your family doctor. Thank you again”. It may not be as easy as going to a family doctor but it’s a better start than doing nothing. Either way, the thought of someone reacting to something I had written in that way, was eye opening.

That comment made me realize that there are so many people suffering in silence and that inspired me to reach out even further. So, I put out an offer for people to email me if they needed to talk, not thinking anyone would actually do it, and to my surprise I received two emails during the day. I read the emails, without judgment, and welcomed them to write me anytime they wanted. I don’t know if it helped them to send me their story but it certainly couldn’t have hurt. I also made sure to point out that I am not even close to “professional” help.

I want to stop here for a minute because as I write this, I can’t help but feel like this is sounding a lot like a “Look at me!” post, and I want to assure you that it is not. A lot of things have changed about me since I have been blogging and the biggest one is the realization that this voice I have created is useless if it is not used to do some good. It also means that if there needs to be a corporate tag attached to an event to get people talking, then so be it. If we’re being completely honest, fear of failure and crickets is why I wouldn’t have started a movement like this by myself, so I’m glad a corporation took the initiative. Maybe I’ll get there someday.

All that said; my offer still stands. If you are having a rough go and need to just share your story with anybody, please feel free to email me at chris@canadiandad.com and I will gladly lend an ear. I am no counselor, so I can’t offer anything but an ear but maybe it’s a start. You don’t have to suffer alone, please remember that.

I guess the main thing I learned by participating yesterday is that we need to be supportive of each other. Everybody has a story to tell and it’s not always easy for them to share it. Yesterday was a great start. I saw so many posts on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, of people sharing their struggles with anxiety and depression, and I hope we can keep the conversation going outside of just that one day. It’s an important discussion and one that deserves a high amount of attention.

Until we meet again, thanks for listening!

The Day the Darkness Crept In

wp_ss_20121204_0001

Edited May 15th: The Dad blogging community recently learned that one of our compatriots, Marc Block from Divided Dad, had succumbed to depression and taken his own life. Now, a number of Dad bloggers have decided to work together to share our stories and hopefully raise awareness about the effects of mental illness and to let others know that it’s okay to ask for help. My story is below and I have linked the other bloggers stories at the end. Thanks.

********************************************************************************************************************

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact day it began. The trigger was easy to decipher. It wasn’t long after my father had passed away that I started experiencing the symptoms. Nagging pains, fatigue and a lot of tears quickly became a part of my daily regimen. I was excellent at hiding it, rarely breaking down in front of even my wife, if at all.

When my father passed suddenly after an ATV accident, I felt like my entire world had been stripped from me. Instead of dealing with the grief and pain in the way I imagine most people do, I decided to take on the role of super strong male provider guy, so I wouldn’t have time to stop and think about what had happened. The strategy worked for a while, and then things started to go horribly wrong.

I remember the first trip to the emergency room like it was yesterday. I had shot out of bed with a pain in my chest and shortness of breath and decided not to take any chances. You can imagine my surprise when the doctor’s said everything was fine. The events that followed this visit are something that I will never forget. I must have visited the emergency room about 12 more times that year, along with 10 more trips to my family doctor, 4 specialists and 3 CT scans. Every trip was more discouraging than the next as I was getting no answers and was quickly becoming the poster child for hypochondria.

My lowest point was while we were living at my in-law’s house, with our new baby, while waiting for our new house to be built. I can distinctly remember the feeling of emptiness that was sweeping its way throughout my body. I would try to put on a face for everyone but there came a point where I just didn’t care anymore. There were many sleepless nights, hours wasted just lying on the couch and more trips to the emergency room. I wasn’t exactly an absentee father but I definitely left my wife high and dry, and I certainly wasn’t feeling whatever it was I was supposed to be feeling about fatherhood. I’ve never felt so emasculated and useless in my entire life. These were the hardest days and the ones I regret most when looking back on my son’s first year.

My last trip to the emergency room provided the awakening I had been searching for. I had been thinking a lot about how much better off my family would be without me and my problems in the picture. That’s not to say I ever thought about harming myself, because I didn’t. I just knew how hard I was making things for my family and wondered if things would be better without me, if that makes any sense. The doctor in the ER was sympathetic and asked what I thought was wrong with me. This week, for no valid reason, I believed I had Multiple Sclerosis. He ran some tests and quickly dismissed my fear; and then he saved my life.

He asked if I’d ever been to a psychiatrist, to which I responded, “No way”. You see, I wasn’t crazy and only crazy people needed to see a psychiatrist; or at least that’s what I thought. The doctor insisted by explaining that he thought I had an anxiety disorder and that it could help. To my surprise, it only took a couple visits for me to start understanding why I experiencing all of these symptoms. By the time four months had gone by, I felt like a new man and was well on my way to recovery.

My last session with the psychiatrist was about 3 years ago and I have been almost symptom free ever since. Sure, there are times when I feel the anxiety building, but I am now equipped with the tools to deal with those instances. My point in sharing this story is to let you know that suffering in silence does nothing but make things worse for you and everyone around you. Reaching out for help doesn’t make you less of a person and in fact can only make you stronger, in my opinion. Don’t let the darkness take over, ask for help, you’ll be glad you did.

********************************************************************************************************************

Krazy Dad Memoir – Do Not Go Into That Good Night

Dad of Divas – The Time Is Now To Ask For Help

Clark Kent’s Lunchbox- Dump Truck Full of Dead Babies

Dads Who Change Diapers – When the World Goes Numb

Dad’s a Lawyer – Words From the Wife

The Daddy Files – Come Back to Me

Dads Round Table – Strategies to Fight Depression

Be a Little Weird – Recognizing Depression in Men for What It Really Is