Role Model: Lance Blakney

WYL: Tell us a bit about yourself

LB: My name is Lance, I'm 25. I grew up in the Kennebecasis Valley. I am a photographer, videographer, editor, retoucher, writer... the list goes on. I usually just call myself a "creator" because my list of passions is always growing. Currently I work for the University of New Brunswick as a Digital Marketing Coordinator. I am lucky in the sense that I get to be creative in most areas of my life. When I am not being creative, I am probably playing pokemon. I am a total geek at heart.

WYL: Why is ending the stigma important to you? 

LB: I think ending stigma is one of the most important parts of maintaining your mental health. Sure, ending stigma in society is important. But, firstly, you must work to educate the people that are closest to you; to remove stigma from your support system. There’s something so unfair about that. When you are struggling with a mental illness, before you can get on the road to recovery, you must put so much work in… but it is a necessary part of the process. To be able to talk about it freely with the people you love is so crucial.

WYL: How have you overcome your struggles? 

LB: For most of my life, I felt lost. I always had this thing inside me, but it never had a name. I knew it was something that wasn’t supposed to be there - but I eventually learned to exist with it. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I learned to call it “depression”. Even though people close to me were suffering from mental illnesses, it never clicked in my brain that: oh, maybe that’s what is going on with me. Looking back, it seems like it was something that was never talked about, mental health wasn’t a topic that made people comfortable. So, I learned to sweep it under the rug - just hoping it would go away. Of course, it eventually came to a breaking point. But, when I came to that point, Wear Your Label had happened into my life. I finally had a way to talk about it; rather, a way to learn how to talk about it. “SAD BUT RAD”, a simple saying on a t-shirt, that opened the doors of dialogue. WYL taught me that it was okay, that a mental illness does not define me. I am still a pokemon-loving photographer, I just happen to also be diagnosed with depression. It’s an on-going battle. I have come a long way. Some days it feels as though I have walked a million miles up hill, but am no where near the peak of the mountain. What is at the top of the mountain? Happiness? Tranquility? Who knows. Who cares. Currently, I am more concerned about the people I meet on my journey. Self-love has been a big part of my journey. I hated myself. I hated that I was so depressed. It took a lot to learn how to get over those feelings of hate, and learn how to invest time in self-care.

WYL: What does your Self-Care Sunday look like? 

LB: I work a lot. Like... A LOT. I have a full time job, and I am also a freelancer. Creatively, both of those are pretty demanding. I easily get burned out because I ignore my body when it tells me it's tired. So, I made the conscious decision to dedicate a day of my weekend to taking care of myself. To relax I usually play video games. Eat snacks. Watch anime. Read a good book. Go for a walk. Listen to Lady Gaga. Any combination of these things is my ultimate day off... a day that doesn't require anything of me. I am very much an introverted-extrovert. I love interacting with people, but I only have so much social energy to give. I love when I am able to recharge my social batteries, so I feel like I can take on the busy week ahead.

WYL: What are you most proud of yourself for? 

LB: Honestly, I am most proud of myself for having a good attitude. I'm not saying that I am positive all the time (people that know me well would certainly say I can get very grumpy at times). However, I have learned to always try to look on the bright side of any situation. I used to be very-much a pessimist... but it was exhausting. Honestly, I don't know how people can be so negative all the time. When I am having a bad day, the only way I can survive it is to know that the sun will come out tomorrow. If I were to ask my younger self where I saw myself at 25, I honestly didn't think I would make it this far in life alive. I feel like the only way I survived, in addition to conquering my demons, was learning to be happy. Happy with who I am and happy with where I am in life. Sometimes I am happy to the point that it annoys the people around me… and I love that about myself.

1 comment

  • Joan Pitman

    Lance, what a journey you have been on! Look at what you have learnt and accomplished. You are a brave and caring person to put your life out there so that others who are struggling with depression and identity in this world can also feel hope and know that they are not alone. Sometimes, life can be a long, lonely road, but thank God for people like you, who are open to share their experiences and offer inspiration and hope to others. Take care!

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