Photo, World Curling Federation/Curling Canada/Michael Burns

Watching Rachel Homan and her team struggle in the round robin at the Pyeongchang Olympics is not easy. They are such a strong team and opening at 0-3 is definitely uncharacteristic for them. Not to mention no Canadian women’s curling team has ever opened an Olympic Games with 0-2, let alone 0-3.

At the time of writing this, they are standing at zero wins and three losses. Thankfully, they have a more than 24 hour break between game 3 and 4. They need it! I hope it helps.

Photo, World Curling Federation/Curling Canada/Michael Burns

Photo, World Curling Federation/Curling Canada/Michael Burns

I’m a relatively new fan of curling, only really gaining interest in the sport after watching two of my cousins play in the 2012 Alberta Junior Provincials in Medicine Hat, while I was living there. I later became a fan of Team Homan shortly after Joanne Courtney joined the team as second in 2014.

Being the only team currently without a win, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe they came into the Olympics feeling a little over confident and possibly a bit unprepared for things to not go in their favour.

Between their games in Pyeongchang, I kept thinking to myself, they just need to take it one game at a time. They need to try not to put too much focus on the final outcome of the event. No one is expecting them to be perfect. (If anyone out there is, you’re an unrealistic jerk, because that’s not how life works!) They need to try not to think so much about what’s ahead and what’s in the past. I know it’s hard when you have high expectations for yourself. That’s certainly much easier said than done, I know! Trust me, I am no stranger to thinking that I’m not good enough or that I’ve screwed everything up in my life. Not to mention they want so badly to bring home the gold for Canada.

And they have a good record. The team went almost undefeated at The Scotties last year – I actually attended the one game they lost in St. Catharines, Ontario because I moved to the area a three years ago – and they went entirely undefeated at the World Championships in Beijing.

Photo, Keira Henricks, 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, St. Catharines, Ontario

Photo, Keira Henricks, 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, St. Catharines, Ontario

Although I cannot speak to what has been going on in the minds of Rachel or her teammates, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve put too much pressure on themselves to perform perfectly at the Olympics and are now suffering the negative effects of that. I can only imagine.

After thinking about this for quite a while, the morning after (my time) their third loss, and thinking about how I would respond to a similar situation and that I don’t know if I’d be able to handle it, I suddenly realized, this is the exact perspective I need to be taking in my current mental health struggle. I’ve been having a very difficult time with my depression lately and it would be so easy to just give up. I’ve come very close to giving up, multiple times, in the past few months. That’s pretty difficult for me to admit.

About two years ago, I thought I’d found the right combination of medication and therapy, and things were going well. For the first time in my life, I was looking hopefully into the future. Problem was, I was not as prepared as I thought I was for my mental health to take a turn in the opposite direction.

I suddenly found myself so deep into the black abyss of depression that I didn’t have a clue how I’d gotten there or any idea how to get out of it. I later realized that I’d been headed down that road for some time, but it was so gradual that I didn’t even realize it happening until it was too late. I kept brushing it off as a bad day, but I wasn’t keeping track of how many days were bad, so I didn’t recognize the pattern.

After several medication changes, and always feeling like I was taking one step forward and two steps back, I became increasingly hopeless. I couldn’t seem to get back to the place I’d been previously. I felt stuck. Trapped. It seemed like there was no escape, until I realized the only way out was to give up. There was absolutely no purpose to my life. Nothing was ever going to be good again and I would never accomplish anything. The only answer was to give up.

This certainly wasn’t the first time I’d experienced suicidal thoughts, but it was the first time I’d ever reached the point of actually making the decision that I was going to do it.

Even though the logical part of my brain knew it wasn’t true, it was nearly impossible not to believe the lies depression was telling me. It’s still hard!

Thinking about Team Homan’s current situation though, it would be so easy for them to give up and stop trying because they had a few, not necessarily bad games, but games that just didn’t go their way. It would be so easy feel like there’s no point. So easy to think that it could cost them their Olympic dream.

In reality, though, they still have a chance! No one knows what’s going to happen. And to be fair, the team’s they’ve played so far have been playing really well! Team Homan has just been a little off, not horrible, just not at their best, but that’s perfectly okay. It happens!

We can’t dwell on the past, or the future. We need to keep moving forward. Because right now hard, we have to focus on right now. Team Homan needs to just concentrate on each game as just one game. Take it one game at a time, while also learning from their mistakes and trying to improve upon them. Once they regain their confidence they can use their experience to help them in the future, but until then, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time.

In the same respect, right now, I need to take it one day at a time and not get caught up in what’s happened in the past to bring me down and worrying about whether or not I’ll be doing better in the future and the things I’m missing out on because I’m not doing well right now. I need to just work on changing my perspective so that I move forward.

Of course, it’s hell of a lot easier to say all this to someone else than it is to say it to yourself and actually believe it. Even now, as I’m writing this, I’m really struggling to convince myself that it’s true and that I even deserve it. It’s so hard not to believe that I have nothing worth contributing to the world. But I can’t give up!

It’s so important to remember, that we don’t have to be perfect. When you’re struggling, do what you can to get through the moment and keep going.

“Depression is a dark cloud that is always looming over. Somedays the sun breaks through, and on those days, I smile, I laugh, I am OK. Other days, rain pours from this cloud and pounds against the ground, drowning out everyone and everything surrounding. On these days, I just can’t fake a smile; I can’t pretend I am OK. Most days, this cloud just keep the sky overcast — not a bad day, but not exactly a good one either. It’s just a day.”

“Depression takes all of my motivation, my joy, my positivity. It literally drains the life out of me. Anxiety makes me afraid of everything. My mind never slows down.”

“In these dark hours, I am going over every awful thing I have ever done. I am thinking of things I could have done better. I am thinking of the future, terrified I will never amount to anything. I am thinking of the present, the million better ways I could be spending my time to improve myself and my future.”

To My Parents: I Am Lying When I Tell You I Am Fine

Most people would never know that I’ve been suicidal, simply by looking at me. If there was anyone in my life who had consistently seen me every day for the past 5 years, they might see a slight difference in my overall mood from day to day, but I tend to keep my true feelings bottled up inside and no one ever sees them. Based on what I’ve learned of Chester Bennington, I suspect he was very much the same. I think this photo his wife posted on Twitter recently is proof that it’s not always obvious that someone is suicidal.

Look at that smile. He was with his family, and very clearly happy in that moment. I often find it very easy to be present in the moment, although, to be honest, it’s been a lot more difficult in the past 15 months. But usually, it comes very naturally, for me to smile and joke around and genuinely enjoy the moment. It’s once I’m alone that things go bad.

It’s still surprising, even to me, that this guy with this happy smile, took his life only a few days after that photo was taken.

The reason it’s so important to address mental health accessibility for youth, Kurdyak said, is that some of the most common mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, have their first onset between the ages of 16 and 30.

“So you really need early and prompt access when these illnesses develop to have better outcomes down the road. And any delay in treatment we know affects the individuals lives as a result,” he said.

~ CTV News — Young Canadians struggling to access mental health services: study

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This is so relatable!

“Sometimes I have what seems like a burst of anger and people think I have anger issues and that I’m being rude to people. I’m actually having anxiety and getting overwhelmed and it comes out as frustration and anger. I wish when it happened those close to me would take a minute to ask if I’m OK and what they can do for me instead of getting annoyed or saying I have anger issues. I hate that people think I’m rude to others when really, I just have anxiety.” — Sarah A.

~ The Mighty15 Secrets of ‘Rude’ People With Anxiety

Before I knew I had anxiety and depression, I had convinced myself that I had anger issues. I’ve you’ve read some of my earlier posts about how I ended up getting diagnosed, you’ll know that I realized something was legitimately wrong after hearing Wil Wheaton’s story on Aisha Tyler’s podcast. It felt like he was describing me. I’d forgotten this until just now, as I started writing this paragraph, but I had had the thought, on several occasions, to go to the doctor before hearing Wil’s story, but I was sure that I’d be told I just have anger issues and that I needed to suck it up and deal with it or that I needed to go to anger management. I think it was the moments where I found myself sobbing over the stupidest shit and being completely overwhelmed with everything in my life that made me think that, but then I’d remember all the anger I kept bottled up that was beginning to spill out at work when I was getting close to reaching my breaking point. I think that’s why hearing Wil describe his experience, at the exact moment I did, has such an impact on me. He explained how he was not “sad” but just always agitated and it was exactly how I was feeling right around that time, in addition to simply being completely overwhelmed. Once I found out I had anxiety and depression – and did some research to figure out exactly what that meant – it was like suddenly the lightbulb went on and everything in my entire life made complete sense.

“Even the littlest things could affect me in the biggest way.”

You don’t realize how incredibly hurtful the smallest thing can feel when a person is actively struggling with depression. Especially​ hidden/concealed/functioning/high functioning/smiling depression. We may look fine on the outside, but that’s just the nature of our personalities. Depression is tearing us apart on the inside already and we could be having what feels like the worst possible day of our lives. Add your small comment or joke and it could easily send us over the edge. It’s possible to know what someone else is dealing with at any given moment.

The Words People With Depression Leave Unsaid

This is painfully true.

Sometimes saying I have a headache is simply easier than:

“You know what? I’m not OK. I feel so, so low and nothing is working. I hate myself. I feel stupid, nobody loves me, nobody understands and at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel like anything will ever get better. I feel guilty for feeling like this. I feel so alone.”

Why It’s Easier to Say I Have a ‘Headache’ Than Say I’m Depressed

I’m not a robot. I still experience happiness — but it’s fleeting. I’ll laugh hard over a joke or smile through an entire episode of my favorite show, but as soon as it’s over, I’ll snap right back to my sadness.

It’s like the happy moment never happened at all. Like it was wiped from my brain as soon as it ended.

It’s almost scary when I find others who describe exactly how I feel. When I was in the deepest part of my latest depressive episode, this is exactly how I felt. Especially the snapping back… Except it wasn’t really sadness, it was just nothingness. One second I’d be laughing at my dog being a weirdo, and then it would stop abruptly and I’d immediately be back to feeling nothing.

When You Don’t Have Enough Energy to Hate How Depression Makes You Feel

Just because it looks like I’m always doing well doesn’t mean I am.

I’ve developed a natural defence mechanism (not intentionally, it just happens) where I basically hide everything I truly feel. When it starts spilling out, that’s a good indicator that it’s really bad because probably only 5% of how I REALLY feel actually comes out to see the light of day. The other 95% is boiling inside me, building, creating stress out of nothing and causing so much anguish that I feel like I’m going to burst, but I never do. Instead, it leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms for release. Course when depression leads me to feeling nothing at all, that’s a whole different can of worms.

Having severe depression doesn’t mean I look severe.

Just because I don’t look depressed doesn’t mean I’m not. And just because I, and my life, don’t resemble the idea you have in your head about what “severe depression” must be, doesn’t change the reality of having it.

This is something my counsellor said to me a lot when I was in my deepest depressive state. My life looks good on paper, yet I’m still unhappy.

Pills don’t make me happy, period. No matter how happy I am, it is never because of the medication I take. Medication is a life vest, but I still have to do the swimming. Medication can not make you happy. It simply can’t.

That’s also not at all how antidepressants work. They don’t make you happy. They adjust how the chemicals in your brain work, to ease depressive symptoms and help get you back to, somewhat, “normal.” In truth, a lot of people say they make their emotions feel flat. They help to get you out of the pit of despair but that’s all they do. They can’t create happiness for you out of nothing. They just get you to the point where you’re able to find happiness on your own because when you’re trapped in the blackness of depression, happiness is nowhere to be seen. Not to mention, simply making you happy wouldn’t solve a thing.

19 Problems Only Happy People With Depression Understand