Sharon Durant: One woman’s story of struggle and hope

Joan experienced severe depression over two years. She knew something was wrong.

  • Oct. 16, 2011 2:00 p.m.

Joan experienced severe depression over two years. She knew something was wrong. Her life had changed from being a happy-go-lucky person who loved shopping and socializing to someone who didn’t want to answer the phone, go out or have anyone over.

“It creeps up on you but by the time it was most severe I couldn’t even get up off the couch to go outside, it felt like I was in a dark hole with no way out,” she said.

It was two years before she made supper again. Joan felt as though there was no support, partly due to the isolation. The exception was her husband and daughter who helped get her through many days. Joan said it was huge having her daughter understand what she was going through and pushing her to get help.

There was one thing that Joan managed to do throughout those two years and that was to attend Toastmasters. She’s not sure what made her go, perhaps it validated her as a person; she would win ribbons and that would lift her up for a while. She remembers having to talk for one of the spontaneous Table Talks and spoke about depression giving a toast to “those who suffer in silence.”

From the encouragement of her daughter and desperately needing to make a change, Joan sought help. It was that help where she was able to talk about things that she didn’t even know were bothering her.

Initially it was Joan’s family physician that referred her to mental health. Joan began attending the 10-week day program, seeing a counselor and a psychiatrist. In conjunction with therapy, Joan is on medication for her depression. More recently she attended an assertiveness course at the Family Resource Centre. It was about six months into this that she began to feel that she could start to function again although she quickly adds “I still have those days, but now I have strategies from all that support I received.

“People should say that they need help.”

Women are about twice as likely as men to experience depression. The effects of stress, violence, poverty, inequality, and low self-esteem likely increase women’s vulnerability to depression.

If you are concerned that you may be depressed, ask for help. Talk to your doctor or visit a walk-in clinic and tell them how you are feeling. Call the Crisis Line at 250-545-2339, they will listen and provide you with contact information where you can get help.