Brand building through storytelling

Mental health

I’m proud to help break the silence around mental illness. Here’s why.

When I was a young working mother and couldn’t stand being me for one more day, I finally started treatment for depression. Things looked up so fast, it was like crossing over from a black and white world into color and light. I could dream, take a chance, throw my arms around the world.

Until that point I’d been only half alive. Every day was an uphill hike in sand.

Depression poisoned times that should have been joyful. Like becoming a mother. I had terrifying fantasies of throwing my baby out the window. I thought I must be the worst mother in the world. So I didn’t tell a soul.

I learned to put up a good front. Made my name, made every deadline, made my own pasta from scratch. But I kept seeing a bathtub and a razor blade.

Meanwhile my friend Chris was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors gave her three years. I thought, “If there was any justice in the world, I’d be the one with cancer.”

And it struck me that I did have cancer: cancer of the soul. I could not trade places with Chris, and my suicide would devastate my family. I would have to find a reason to live. I called a mental health clinic and said the three words I’d been afraid to say: “I need help.”

Therapy showed me how to invest my whole self in this world, not just 50 percent. It set me on the path to the top job at Chatelaine. I arrived with a mission: to break the silence around mental illness. I shared my story in an editorial, and the floodgates opened. One reader sent me a water color of spring flowers, with a note that said, “Your story gave me hope.”

Depression has been a great teacher. It’s given me compassion and courage. It’s taught me to celebrate the shining moments in every day. It’s given me a story that empowers other people to go public with their own. Stories turn the silence of shame into a song of hope.

How it feels to get help at last

What every manager should know

Related stories I’ve told:

Mental illness and the REAL talking cure

Mary and me: What a nurse
taught a manager

Mental illness and the media

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