a place where it doesn’t hurt.

In early November of 2016, I stayed with my parents in Ontario for about five weeks. It was a tough time for me – my depression had reared its ugly head, and was a weight on my shoulders that wouldn’t let me up. I was drowning.

When I arrived in Ontario, I slept for days. My depression had led to strep throat, which became bronchitis, which turned into me sleeping for nearly twenty hours a day. When I wasn’t sleeping, I was crying.

I remember one Sunday in particular. I woke up and the sunshine was coming through my window, and I felt instantly energized. I wanted to be outside. It was even warm – winter hadn’t yet begun, and the air still smelled of that crisp autumn earthy smell. My parents asked me to go for a walk with them, and for the first time in nearly a week, I left the house.

We walked for maybe half an hour. At the beginning of the walk I was so full of hope – Could this be the start of my healing? Is it this easy? Did I just need to see the sun? 

But after about ten minutes, a dark cloud moved in, casting a shadow over only me; the sun still shone for the rest of the world.

You will never be happy. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life crying in bed?

I started to cry, walked ahead of my parents, and lead the way home. I walked into the backyard and sat on the patio stairs. Dad came and sat beside me and let me cry into his shoulder.

I will never forget the conversation we had next:

“Dad, I wish I had cancer. Because then I would have something wrong with me that people could see, and I wouldn’t feel so ashamed to feel this way.”

“I know sweetie, depression is hard.”

“Dad, I don’t want to live anymore. I just want to say good-bye to my family and friends, and just go some place where it doesn’t hurt.”

This was the first time I had said the words out loud – The first time I said them to another human being – They were no longer just scribbles in my journal. Someone else finally knew how I felt, and it was freeing.

 

I am not sharing this story to make you sad (even though I have shed a tear or two while sitting here writing it), but I am sharing it to show you how far I have come.

I know that it feels like it’s going to last forever, but it won’t. I promise. It’s not all good, but it’s not all bad either. Your dark cloud will go away, the weight will lift, and the tears will dry. I believe in you.

 

I love you, Dad.

 

perspective.

How do you see yourself through your eyes? How do you see yourself through the eyes of others? Is there a difference?

In the therapy course I attend, we discuss this quite often: Why is understanding perspective necessary? How is it that two people can see the same situation differently? What is perspective?

Once again, I will call on Merriam-Webster for an official definition, “the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed; places the issues in proper perspective (point of view). The capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance ‘trying to maintain my perspective’ “.

Besides thinking about perspective in therapy, it has been coming up a lot at home as well. I try to see situations from another persons’ point of view if we are having a discussion or perhaps a disagreement. And that technique has allowed me to be quite a bit more self aware and generally more calm. It is important to understand that each individual will see things from their own perspective, because each individual experiences different emotions, holds different values, and has different skills. And that is what makes the world go ’round.

But a situation arose this past weekend that sort of through me for a loop:

I met up with an old acquaintance from childhood; we have known each other since before kindergarten, playing hide-and-seek on the back streets of our neighbourhood. Hide-and-seek turned to grade school, grade school to high school, and then we eventually lost touch.

We met for drinks with other acquaintances from younger years, and over the course of the evening a couple references were made to how these people viewed me when we were younger – my life, from their perspective. A very different life than the one that I lived. They knew a Shannon that I had never met.

Apparently, from their perspective, I looked like I had it all.

What I had in high school was a turbulent relationship with an alcoholic mother; I had pressure from friends to drink alcohol and use drugs, and I found myself in situations that were less than desirable. I put pressure on myself to be as good/fit/smart as my older sister. I was bullied in grade school, and the first two years of high school; eventually I became a bully to hide my real emotions – something that still holds deep regret in my heart. Most days I skipped class to avoid the hallways of people. I was depressed, and at times I was suicidal, and I couldn’t wait to never step foot in the hallways of that school again.

Today I will ask you to challenge yourself to see someone from a different perspective. Perhaps that person looks like he or she has it all together, but in reality they could really use a friendly smile, or a helping hand. Look under the social expectations and material possessions that we hide behind, and call on yourself to be better. Look deeper. Be kinder. Smile.