I stumbled across Elvia Magazine a few months ago. In fact, it was a call for writers on Linked In that initially drove me to their site. The magazine focuses on inspiration and hope, finding the elusive joys in life, and helping readers through the less joyous bits. After reading some articles from their premiere edition, I decided that I needed to tell my story. Too many people suffer alone with depression and anxiety, surrounded by people who can’t simply cannot empathize with the pain that weighs on their mind, body and spirit day after day. It is easy to feel alone.
As a bubbly, talkative, generally overt individual, many people do not associate depression with someone like me. The stereotypes that accompany mental illness have yet to be dispelled, leaving many sufferers feeling ashamed and alone. In fact, 1 in 5 individuals live with depression, wearing a mask that ironically perpetuates their inner struggle.
Over the past few months, I have noticed many organizations bringing attention to mental health and its under estimated prominence in our community. In a bid to shed depression’s taboo awning, organizations such as Not Myself Today, Canadian Mental Health Association and many MAD Pride are fighting to dispell any negative myths.
With many media personalities sharing their own battles with mental illness, and to promote further awareness of depression and anxiety, I knew it was time to tell my story.
My Friend, Hope by Natalie Preddie
Nine years ago I decided to die. Kick the bucket. Eat dirt. Push up daisies. Whatever you want to call it, the outcome remained the same: dead. It had been a tough few years preceding my decision. Following a sexual attack in my teens, I withdrew inside myself, and the sparkle that danced within me deteriorated and died. By the time I reached nineteen, I displayed all the signs of a manic depressive, left University, and consequently, moved back into my parent’s bedroom.
And so, I decided to die. I downed the whole bottle of pills. I left two. Just in case. Odd, yes, but I suppose it is this moment when she was born. There, somewhere in that dark room, whether I saw it or not, this little glimmer materialized and began to shine. Let’s call her Hope.
I left the hospital a week later knowing that I had lived, although I still didn’t know why. I also knew that despite my racing heart beat, the insecurity of each step and the tight fist that constantly manipulated my gut, so mehow I was going to be okay. I inched home: scared, anxious, insecure. Hope- tiny, sparkling Hope- took my hand and lead me home.
Hope grew. Slowly but surely. Six months later she was packing my bags and escorting me, hesitantly, to a new life in London, England. She tied my ballet shoes, and together we tried to dance away any memory of the pain I had left behind. Boy, did we dance! Ho pe worked especially hard then. Hope- determined, lovely little Hope- filled my mother’s patient voice and loving words, as I cried over the phone. Hope put my Aunt’s arms around me, in a tender embrace. Hope sat awake with my father while we talked until the early hours of the morning.
Over the next eight or so years, Hope continued to grow bigger and stronger. There were times when she left me entirely: sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks or even months. Sometimes I had to go looking for her. But Hope- my darling Hope- always returned in some form or another. As time went on, her absences became less and less frequent.
Hope resides with me now, like an all-pervasive ghost that h overs- suspended- like a cloud or the fog that settles over the garden on an early spring morning. She leaves sometimes- rarely- but mostly to run errands, as she is never away for too long. She has also brought some other friends into my life. Love, Faith, Trust, Happiness, have all made themselves members of my growing family. They permeate smiles, hugs, kisses, laughter…even time.
I wish I could have told nineteen year old me that Hope was coming with her friends…and soon! If only she knew that her tears proved resilience. If only she knew that each cut was futile. If only she knew the power of a single embrace. If only she knew that there was strength inside her. If only she knew that she was beautiful. If only she knew. If only she knew!
Hope may have been evasive, sometimes tardy, but she came. She arrived and eventually, she stayed. And just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.