Brand building through storytelling

Stories by Rona

Mental illness and the REAL talking cure

Early in my tenure as Editor of Chatelaine, I let my readers in on a secret. I had suffered from depression that took hold of me in childhood and did not let go until my mid-thirties. In its grip, I hid behind a mask of competence–meeting every

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Mary and Me: What a Nurse Taught a Manager about Mental Illness at Work

The toughest challenge of my corporate career was managing a talented staffer with a mental illness. Compassion didn’t cut it: I needed expert coaching that HR couldn’t provide. I wish I’d known there was an expert down the hall–the occupational health nurse.

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My favorite vacation disaster

The vacations that make the best stories are the ones that go comically wrong–the ones that make your friends glad they were stuck at the office. Come with me while I relive my favorite vacation disaster.

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The fight of her life: Jan Wong against workplace depression

I felt like cheering when the Globe and Mail launched a 28-part series on mental illness, produced by a team of reporters. As a survivor of depression, I’d been waiting for the day when diseases of the mind would command that kind of attention. I didn’t stop to notice that one of the Globe’s biggest names, Jan Wong, was missing from the team. And I couldn’t have guessed that she’d been laid low by depression.

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Making peace with my hometown

I grew up wishing I could grow up anywhere but Durham, New Hampshire, where I never fitted in at school, where the few friends I had were other weirdos like me. But for one extraordinary August weekend, Durham was where I most wanted to be. I’d been chosen to speak at my school’s first all-class reunion, to people who had juggled their schedules to be there. And suddenly it no longer mattered that no Durham boy had ever asked me out. I had to be there.

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Kicking my estrogen habit

I never planned to be an estrogen lifer but I seem to be headed that way. I’ve made two attempts to quit; both times broken sleep and sour moods drove me back to my little blue pills. I’ve been on estrogen 15 years–three times as long as the maximum that even the most hormone-tolerant doctors recommend. What am I doing to myself?

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Stuff happens

I was packing for a trip to Argentina with my husband, and we deserved every mind-clearing minute of our escape to the land of tango. We’d just moved from a house-size condo with three walk-in closets and endless built-ins to the compact loft that now held just a fraction of our former possessions. We had jettisoned carloads of belongs—some of them nearly new—that used to seem essential but suddenly felt like excess baggage. The more bags and boxes we filled with cast-ffs, the more useless things we uncovered that we didn’t even know we had, from Annie Hall pants last worn in 1980 to a 25-year-old Encyclopedia Britannica from our son’s school days.

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Beauty in motion

I once thought I wanted to be a ballerina. What I really craved was the beauty of every woman who moves with assurance and grace, never mind a less-than-perfect body. An eccentric, small-town ballet teacher pointed the way.

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Losing it

I once owned a man’s silk paisley scarf in burgundy, cream and navy blue. It was the kind of thing that looks expected on a silver-haired guy in pin-stripes, but playful on a 30-something woman in jeans and a T-shirt. I wore that scarf so often that it smelled of my favourite scent and felt like an extension of my skin. One day I wore it to a movie. Halfway home, I realized that I’d left it on the seat. I rushed back but no one had seen a paisley scarf. Something plummeted inside when I knew for sure that I had lost it.

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So this is what 60 feels like

For the better part of three decades, I’ve been shrugging off milestone birthdays. Forty: eclipsed by my mother’s death two weeks earlier. Fifty: an excuse to squeeze a girlfriends’ lunch between meetings. Then I turned 60—the boundary between thinking I have forever to do my growing up and accepting the fact that I don’t.

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