Talking About Mental Health 



The Poster Boy for Depression

The Poster Boy for Depression
By Sean Robert

There is no question this past winter on the Coast has been a major downer. As a prairie boy, I am no stranger to blizzards, extreme wind-chills and embarrassing neon snowsuits. However, whereas the prairie winters always took their physical toll, I find the endless days of rain and clouds to be much more emotional.

When the clouds rolled in ahead of schedule last year, it did not take long before I exchanged my beloved fall wardrobe for a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Canceling all plans that did not involve Netflix, take-out pizza and a bottle of red wine, I locked myself in my basement apartment and waited patiently for the sun to come back. Measuring weeks in television series, I knew I had to make a change when 2017 rolled around and I had become the Poster Boy for depression.

The problem with depression is that its grip is tight and its staying power is tireless. More often than not, the more you try to fight the mental state the more defeated you become. When it is exhausting enough just to find the energy to get out of bed in the morning, it feels darn near impossible to even think about seizing the day. That is not to say the battle is over, however, it just means that absolute victory is no longer the endgame.

When life’s mental forecast becomes just as miserable as the weather outside, the objective is not to try to change it, ignore it or pretend that it will go away; but rather accept it for what it is, and do whatever you can to take care of yourself in the meantime.

After months had gone by, I finally managed to pull myself off the couch. Taking a seat at the local coffee shop, I took a sip of dark roast and looked out the window at the grey sky above. “I am depressed,” I typed on my laptop, “Now what?” Acknowledging my mental state, I proceeded to create a checklist of everything that has helped me to feel better in the past: exercise, eating well, writing and talking to someone. Then I hit my first roadblock. I became exhausted at the mere sight of the list.

And so I shifted gears. I narrowed down the scale of each task until they were manageable enough for me to pull forward. Exercise shrunk into “walking for ten minutes,” eating well became “digesting something green.” As the list went on and the tasks became smaller, I felt myself becoming stronger and more confident. I recognized that even though I did not have much to give, the knowledge that I still had enough to make a difference was all the comfort I needed.

That evening my world did not change completely except for one dramatic adjustment. I changed out of my sweatpants.

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