Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guest Blog: Dysthymic Dad

In an effort to reach out to those dealing with mental health illnesses, now & then we will be featuring a guest blog post.  These people are dealing with anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, stress, and other disturbances to their mental health.

Everyone featured has granted us permission to post on their behalf, to share their stories, their blogs, and hope that you will find solace and comfort in that you are not alone.

Today's post comes from Dysthymic Dad on Twitter.  This man has been very brave in battling his Depression and Dysthymia.  This blog post comes on a snowy day in Ottawa, which makes the analogy he writes about understandable.

Visit for more blog posts from Dysthymic Dad. 


Depression: Driving Stick-shift, Uphill in Wintry Conditions
My mental health muse must’ve taken a holiday, what with over a month since updating this blog. I kept telling myself I should write another entry, but the motivation / inspiration simply would not materialize. Symptoms of my condition? Mayhaps… Meanwhile, I’ve been filling the “creative” void, 140-characters (or less) at a time… hence why you should follow @DysthymicDad!

But I have been giving some thought as to how I could explain what I’m going through, to those I choose to disclose my condition…to come up with an analogy, a “story”, to explain what Depression feels like. Or at least, what it feels like for me. Being Canadian, you know weather had to factor into the story, somehow!

When first diagnosed with Major Depression and likely dysthymia, I’d been stuck at the bottom of the hill for so long, spinning my wheels in 5th gear, I’d no clue what might lie on the road ahead. At first, the blizzard-like conditions of my depression swirled around me, blinding me to my surroundings. Complete white-out conditions.

What revealed itself to lie ahead was one very steep hill to climb, riddled with unavoidable icy patches. I felt overwhelmed, ill-equipped to weather the wintry storm and topography ahead; I was an old beat-up clunker with balding summer tires, no map and no GPS device. I wasn’t even sure anymore what destination I was trying to reach. My internal On*Star navigation system had completely failed me.

Extended sick leave from a supportive employer allowed me to put some gas in the tank and recharge the battery. With the help of my GP, I equipped myself with winter tires – an anti-depressant called Cipralex – to gain traction on the road to recovery. Both my GP and EAP (Employee Assistance Program) Counsellor were of great assistance in pointing out the destinations that are open to me. 
 And my Mindfulness practices are the polarized lenses that allow me to notice the individual snowflakes, and see through them as I plod ahead.

I have no illusions that conquering this hill will take time. There are still days where I feel stuck in neutral, all traction lost on an icy patch as I slide backwards. Sometimes my GPS acts up when I hit a pothole. Loosening my white-knuckled death-grip on the steering wheel of anxiety doesn’t always come easy. And there will be times when I may need to call out a tow truck to get me out of the ditch.
But progress is being made, one gear shift at a time. Sometimes I do need to downshift, and I’ve learned to accept that, if not outright welcome those opportunities. I’ve given up on *wishing* that the weather clear up, or a sand/salt truck magically appear ahead of me. The road and weather conditions are what they are.

What drives me now is knowing that I will reach the top of this hill. Maybe not tomorrow, or next week, or next month. But one day, I will reach the summit… and hopefully find a level parking lot where I can do doughnuts to my heart’s content.

As always, the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region is here for you, at any time, day or night.  You can call us at 613-238-3311 to talk about what you're experiencing.  We're here to support you.


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