Depression and how one man overcame it
In March of 2005, I lost everything: our family farm to bankruptcy, my off-farm employment, and my marriage of 20 years. It all came to an end. Everything I had worked for, for decades, was gone. To quote my counsellor, “okay, Colin, the only thing you have left in your life is your integrity, and you are coming too close to losing that.”
Everyday I struggled to keep going; I had an “exit strategy.” I prayed that my creator would just take me home and my strongest temptation was to dig a hole in the “back forty” and just crawl into it.
My counsellor said, “you are at a crossroad in your life and you need to make a choice. You can either stay bitter or you can get better.” It was one of the hardest decisions to make, because I knew what that would cost. Getting well would mean feeling the pain of loss. Getting well would mean to stop self-medicating. Getting well would mean facing the reality that I was a 46 year-old man who had nothing. I could not support my family, I lost my desire for adventure, I had no achievements and I felt that I had lost the respect of my community. I was depressed.
I would come to realize that I did not lose everything and then get depressed; I lost everything because I was depressed, I just did not know it. At that time, I thought that depression was feeling sad and blue. I did not feel sad and blue. I was angry. I felt like I was a volcano ready to blow at any moment and at times, it took everything I had inside of me to keep a lid on it. I was engaging in risky behaviour. I had pulled myself right out of community. I was a man at risk, I just did not know it.
Now, 10 years later, as I reflect on the journey out of the valley, it was a series of little things that kept me going, and brought me to a place of health. Today, I am well: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially. There was no magic pill, no easy fix, and no end date to the depression. I just waited for that day when I could honestly say to myself, “I feel well inside.” Well within my mind, body, heart and spirit.
Getting my mind working again, and becoming healthy physically, was a lot of small changes that added up over time. Living integrally strengthened me emotionally and spiritually, and the most important part of my healing journey was reengaging in community life. Without community we die; with healthy community we have the potential for life.
The deepest pain of depression is the feeling of profound loneliness. The most helpful words I heard were, “you are not alone in this,” “you are not the only one struggling with depression,” and “I am with you in this - I have your back.” Knowing I had people in my life who loved me in spite of me, and people who knew my story who did not judge me, seemed to put “a floor” to the depth of the darkness and hopelessness.
Making a difference, gives me a sense of purpose to my life, being at peace within my heart makes me feel at home and practicing honesty and being integral, all are the values I seek to live by.