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G&B: Apologies to Sting

It's been a blast, folks. The Worlds Most Popular Podcast is signing off. Truth to be told, there's not enough hours in the day for ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the depths of depression: how i got by

If you knew me as a kid, you would never know I would be depressed later on in life. I was a happy sort. Still am. For the most part. Then, something happened. It first hit me when I was in my late teens. It goes and comes. Every few years, I have a huge setback. The best part of it, though is that with every setback I also step a few steps forward. With two steps back, I skip five forward. I realize something new about myself and I continue to fight it out. And that's all you have to do. Fight. Never give up. And trust me, I know how hard it is to want to give up.

1997. Like I said. Happy kid. I had a rough year. Got dumped and I was feeling the effects of my parents divorce a few years earlier. I started to really confront the whole thing and it hit me hard. 3 suicide attempts. All different ways. I knew I had to do something. I decided to go see a shrink. Behind my parents back. Of course, my parents found out later. Someone had to pay the guy. They were accepting and we talked about it together. We were a team going forward. I spent a week in the mental health ward at the local hospital and all I knew was that I didn't belong there. I did the shrink thing hard and I wanted to get better. Slowly but surly I did. I turned to friends for things I didn't or couldn't talk to my parents about and I spoke to my parents about family stuff. It was a good compromise and it got me by. I knew things wouldn't be the same ever again. I knew that it could happen again. I just knew this, I grew from this experience and knew the signs to watch out for.

2005. My second major downfall. I lost my job and my friend past away in late 2004. I felt lonely and had no direction. Had no idea what the future held. This was coming from someone who thought he had it all planned out at 15. My drinking started to get regular and I started to experiment with drugs. It was a type of depression that sneaked up on me. I thought I was living the life. Living for the day. In reality, I was going down this black hole very slowly. I finally found out about blogs. I chose to create one. This helped me a whole lot. I started to write again and it helped me get my thoughts out in the open and made me see what I was actually thinking. It scared me. As I saw what I was writing, I started to fix it. I didn't stop till I found a job and I started to talk to friends and family more about my life and what I thought what was wrong with it. Communication is key.

2008. Third time. Like few years prior, this depression creped up on me slowly. Everything was falling and breaking right in front of me. I was slowly loosing myself and the world around me. I had hit rock bottom. My only regret was that I didn't realize it till sooner. I should've recognized the signs. I should've seen it coming. I won't get into what sparked this depression just because they were too many reasons. Too long to explain. It all hit the wall one night after a drunken fest. I called a friend early in the morning and started to ball on the phone to him. I couldn't stand it anymore. I was on the floor of my room crying to a guy. I was throwing things around in my room and was looking for change to buy some coffee. Needed to get out of the house. At 4am in mid-winter in suburban Toronto. My friend talked to me and calmed me down. He told me to listen to some music and stay in the house. I listened. As I cleaned off my tears, I got up and knew I had to do something huge to fix my life. Or else, I was going to die. That night I decided to quit drinking. I did. 97 days. During the streak, I found myself again. My friends saw that side of me. A side many hadn't seen before. I was happy. Back to the old Shane. My mom said that her son was back. We moved, I found a job I loved and I was on a roll. I started to drink again, but I was happy. Sure, my friends were upset that I started to beer-it-up again, but I just told them that I needed that break. Some still tell me they liked me best during those 97 days of sobriety.

2010. My latest drawback. When I got back on my legs after the 2008 episode, I started to notice all this creative energy I was hiding inside. I took up painting and took my writing more serious. I started to gain more focus than ever before. I was going down a good road. Then, I lost someone very close to me. From suicide. I thought I was going through the normal mourning process when you loose someone very close to you, but it was actually depression setting in. Slowly. This time I realized it before it was too late and did something about it. I talked to my friends and searched out help. This wasn't before I started to do go down old paths. As much as I didn't want to go down the path, something was pulling me in. I couldn't stop it. Finally, I chose to use my creative energy and just focus on that. I locked myself in my basement and drew. Wrote. Painted. Anything to cure that sobbing soul inside. Over time, I got better. I started to smile again.

I'm not saying that depression is done with me and these are the only times I will ever encounter it. I know it'll be around me. Maybe for the rest of my life. Maybe not. I just know I know how to deal with it. The slow progression between my first drought in 1997 and the one last year, I found something new about myself that I choose to focus on to make myself better. Art, Writing, talking, walking, photography, whatever it was it got me on a positive road that helped cure myself. I found that the best medication is to talk about it. Trust me. It's totally different when you hear yourself say those words that you are depressed and hear yourself talk about why you're sad. Don't be afraid to talk to a friend, a family member. Me. Anyone. Communication is the best pill.

You can e-mail me if you need to talk. Everything will remain between us. Bell Canada is doing Let's Talk. Check the website to find out more information on some useful ways you can find help. Help is out there. You just have to say the word.