Yesterday was a sad day for so many people in the world, a man who brought so many people joy lost his battle with Depression. In the hours following the death of Robin Williams there were so many posts and articles about the life of this amazing comedian, man, husband, and father. For many of us Robin was part of our lives and felt like a friend we knew. His talent spanned generations, from Mork and Mindy to Dead Poets Society to Night at the Museum, Robin was someone people of all ages and backgrounds could connect with.
Following Robins death much dialogue has begun surrounding depression and mental illness. I have seen many posts sharing thoughts of support to those dealing with depression and even more looking for some sort of answer to why this illness is still taking so many lives and destroying the quality of life of those suffering through it.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 % of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and 8% approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at sometime in their lives. To me these numbers are staggering. What makes it even more shocking is that almost half of those people (49%) that are suffering from anxiety and depression have never gone to see a doctor about the problem. (http://www.cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/) That means 2.8 Million or 1 in 12 Canadians will experience a severe depression in their lifetimes out of the current 35 Million Canadians.
In recent years there has been more of a dialogue surrounding mood disorders and mental illness than in the past. Many people have come forward sharing stories of inspiration regarding past battles fought and overcoming these illnesses. I think this conversation is beyond important in letting those who are in a dark place that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can come out into the sun in time. I myself have added my voice to the many speaking up in the past and have been astounded at the response of those saying, “me too”. (http://daniellemurrayyoga.com/blog/?p=750) In the past I dealt with severe depression and anxiety, and I have not been shy to discuss those past struggles with others to help bring a greater awareness to the issue.
Over the past weekend I was assisting my dear friend Michele Theoret of Empowered Yoga during the final weekend of her 200HR Yoga Teacher Training. One evening we were sitting on her patio discussing family, life, love, yoga, social media, you name it, it was probably talked out. It was a quite revealing conversation, and we discovered so many new things about each other as you do during a frank discussion of acceptance, trust and complete non-judgement where you feel safe to be open, flaws and all. When the discussion turned to social media we both discussed the illusion And facade of things like facebook and instagram. A majority of the posts we see are sunshine and lollipops, smiling faces and “PERFECT LIVES”. While I like to keep things positive, and try to put good energy out into the world, this facade is neither authentic nor real or helpful. Michele had become more aware of this societal deception as of late (http://empoweredyoga.ca/blog/empowered-handstand-challenge-breaking/) and put it so eloquently, “where are the photos of me yelling at my kids and pulling my hair out?” We both laughed; because that is something we have both experienced as mothers and professionals, so perhaps you can look for those posts in the future.
All of my past experiences, conversations, and the sad loss of a great man have lead me to some deep refection. Although there is more of a dialogue surrounding this issue today there are many people still suffering in silence, and the stigma of having a mental illness and being “crazy” keeps them from speaking up. Until we create a community of support, love, and acceptance to bring depression and other mental illnesses into the open this situation will not improve. We have to come together as family, friends and human beings to say we support you, we are here, you are loved, and there is help for you if you need it. I believe it is also up to those fighting depression and mental illness to not be passive and silent during the struggle. If people would come forward and say I am LIVING with this illness it creates a space to empower others to do the same. Let’s take the power into our own hands and stand together as ONE and DO SOMETHING.
Today I will take that first step. Today I will stand up and say I am #livingwithdepression. I am a Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, and Yoga Teacher struggling with this illness. I have already begun my battle with the help of my ever supportive family, friends, doctor, and yoga practice. Every day is not easy, some days I can barely find the strength to carry on with a smile. What I do know is that is not permanent, #depressionlies and makes me feel like it will never end. In truth I am NOT alone, YOU are not alone. Let’s come out of the dark and join hands, so that others may do the same. One of the most comforting things someone can say is me too, join me if you are suffering in silence and say I am #livingwithdepression.