How to Cope with Depression in the Family
Depression is something that has been in the news a lot recently, thanks in part to the Bell Let’s Talk Day. Only recently have mental health initiatives as large as this one emerged in our culture. There is a historic stigma around sharing one’s mental state, as it has often been viewed as something that is within one’s power to overcome. Recently, mental illness has been defined as a disease; That is, something that one is afflicted with that is not within one’s control. Efforts within the pharmaceutical world have provided a wide range of options for coping with depression, and other more holistic options are offered that include mental and physical therapy like counselling and yoga, respectively.
People admitting to experiencing mental illness is becoming more common as social efforts to reduce the stigma around the illness are emerging. When a family member admits to having a mental illness it can be very hard for everyone in the family to handle.
My personal story with a depressed family member had a major impact on the direction of my life. When I was completing my first university degree and was enrolled in my City of Ottawa co-op program, I learned that my aunt was experiencing depression as a result of an accumulation of factors, including the loss of her son. This news was like the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, in that I was already over my personal capacity with school, work, running a committee and exercising. I went to my supervisor and quit my co-op position, feeling altogether overwhelmed by the news.
My story proves that not only experiencing depression yourself, but also being affected by someone experiencing depression, can create challenges. It is important to talk about mental health problems and to reach out to people when you aren’t feeling mentally well because it can affect others. Supporting mental health initiatives is another great way to get involved with the cause of reducing stigma around mental health. Good luck!