Introducing our newest Wear Your Label Community Champion, Samantha Madore of Truro, Nova Scotia. Samantha shares her story with us - The Elephant in the Room: This is Real.
I suffer from depression and anxiety. For the longest time, I wouldn’t admit this. I would, instead, spend time inside the house and inside my head; focusing on my own personal 'weakness' that kept me from getting off the couch, being social, living my potential. The more time I spent wishing I was someone else and comparing myself to others – who just seemed to be better at life in general than me – the deeper the depression became.
After reaching a place in my life where I could finally acknowledge that what I have is real – a real illness, not a real weakness – I want to help to erase the stigma associated with the ‘elephant in the room’ that is mental illness. But it's not easy. None of it is easy.
It’s not easy because depression is unpredictable and there are lots of setbacks. There are some days, some moments within a day, when I feel empowered and effective in my life. Then the very next day – the very next moment – I can perceive a glance or overhear a comment that I interpret to mean that I am not good enough. That I don't measure up to some irrational idea of who I assume someone else thinks I should be. Who I think I should be. In that glance – in that irrational moment – I am back to the depths that I am so good at creating for myself.
It's not easy because, even though I may be suffering and I know I need help, I may not want help. I may think that I am unworthy of help. And someone telling me that I am ‘good enough’ when I believe that I am not is not going to work for me.
It's not easy because, for no apparent reason, I just don't want to get out of bed today.
In the process of coming to terms with the ‘realness’ of my mental illness, I started working with my local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. I have helped to plan their ‘Women & Wellness’ event for the past three years and, while helping with their second annual ‘Walk for Defeat Depression’, I wrote and shared this poem:
It is hard to know what to filter
Which thoughts are real
Which feelings are building from an imaginary source
It is hard to grasp without reaching
The highs and the lows dance blindly inside While we capture ourselves in darkness
Turn the lights on Look away
It is all making sense in an unclear way
It is all closing in on the one thing you never wanted it to be Fear
This is real.
The body doesn’t match the mind The soul is dark
The darkness is real
Wanting to close the door but the draft persists Holding the candle too close to the heart Watching
Waiting for hope
Waiting for the sand between your toes The light
The bridge to where you want to belong
Holding the hand of who you wish you were The mirror.
The looking glass to your soul
There will be hope.
There will be home.
The safety net will appear in plain sight Take a breath
I am hoping that – by adding my voice to those who are openly talking about their struggles with mental health – more and more people will join in. I am hoping that mental illness will ultimately no longer be considered the ‘elephant in the room'.
Samantha Madore is our newest Community Champion from Truro, Nova Scotia. She is the owner of Bliss Productions, a committed volunteer for mental health events, and lives with depression and anxiety. Photo credit: Portraits by Johanna.