Illness Army: “Name It”

What does Depression look like?

Darkness lurks inside of you.
It speaks to you constantly and pokes you in the ribs, but it won’t tell you its name.
It will tell you things like, “You are alone,” “You suck,” and “You have to deal with this for forever.”

Its name is Depression.

For me, Depression looked like a smile on my face, but it felt like a sob in my throat.
I went to college, went to church, and even volunteered, all with a smile on my face. But, the moment I got home, I would turn to my closet and hide. I would weep for hours at a time. Depression is messy. Literally. I would have puddles of tears and snot to deal with. My pain felt nameless, but it was not. And neither is your pain.

There was an exercise that my therapist had me do one time that helped connect the right brain to the left brain. During that session, my Depression came in the form of an ice skating girl who kept saying, “You’ll never tell anyone about me.”

I find this significant, because, in telling others about my Depression, I have gained the most hope I’ve ever had. Depression says not to tell anyone, but Depression is conquered by telling others about it.

I remember telling my mother, for the first time, that I had suicidal thoughts. That was the beginning of my continued journey to recovery. I opened my mouth to confess what was hard in my heart, and, in doing so, a piece of the burden and pain lifted. It was not an instantaneous healing – in fact, I still am learning to cope and deal with the Depression. But, in opening up to someone about what I was feeling, it validated my pain and allowed for a little piece of hope and light to be shed on the dark hurting part of my soul.

Every time I told another piece of my story, I would see that I was not alone. I began to see other people around me stand up and begin to tell me that they have been there too. Not only did my sharing of my story give others a reason to share their story, it also brought hope to everyone.

Healing is found in opening up – whether that be to a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or a doctor. In a practical sense, a person will know how to help you if you share what you are going through. In an emotional sense, naming your pain and your story creates a bridge for others, including yourself, to find hope and joy.

In everything, my main advice is to share your story – in whatever way you find resonates with you. Whether that be through a painting, a photo, a song, a quote, story, the world needs your part. You are worth it to get better! You are worth loving!

So, whatever Depression looks like to you, begin to bring in others to your story to shed light on the darkness of your pain.

The lovely, and very patient, author of this post can be found at
Heather wants to bring hope to others by sharing her sufferings with Depression through journal entries, essays, and poetry, she wishes to share her story with others who might be experiencing the same amount of pain she used to experience every day. She wishes to encourage others to then share their stories, and for them to know that they’re valuable. Make sure you give her a Follow!

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Illness Army: “A Thousand Victories”

I usually finish these pieces with a paragraph to tie loose ends, but this piece in particular calls for special attention.
If there is one submission that you must read – it is this one.

My dear friend and one of my first followers, Ross, has written this incredible piece discussing life AFTER illness.
Yes, I did say AFTER.
Ross has gone on to lead a very active life after suffering for years with many mysterious symptoms, and Doctors who doubted him.
Please, PLEASE read and follow him at
I guarantee there will be NO disappointments…

1 Pm and the alarm sounds. Glancing away from my keyboard I take a short breath and begin to rummage through a handful of medications, its that time of day. That time of day for the just over three thousand, four hundred and I’ve lost count dosages that keep this motor running.

I’ll give you a brief history of my life with mental illness, it will help bring this short story into context. At age 19 I was diagnosed with Manic Bipolar Disorder, year after year the list of diagnosis continued to grow. At present I am 31 Yrs old and have been diagnosed as living with; Manic Bipolar Disorder, Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Chronic Anxiety Disorder, Psychosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder & Clinical Depression.

From age 19 till just recently I refused to accept that there was anything the medical community could do for me. First Gen medications were brutal, often making living life harder due to the massive collection of unfavorable side effects. And despite my impressive list of diagnosis I was always considered to be of sound mind and capable of refusing medication.

So I did, out of fear.
Fear that I may lose my mind more, suffer more and my biggest fear of all; I might get better.

4 Yrs ago roughly I ate dinner at a local restaurant in Toronto, Ontario. I had no idea how much my life was about to change thanks to a miniscule dose of common yet potentially lethal bacteria. Most of you have probably experienced food poisoning before. But not what everyone has experienced is the crippling and enraging visits to clinics & hospitals as a mental health patient to be told that what your experiencing is in your head.

Over the span of 3 Months I visited my GP, emergency clinics and mental health refuge homes. I rapidly lost weight, dropping from 180 Lbs to less than 120 Lbs in weeks. The pain was unbearable, I couldn’t eat or drink. If I did it was unearthly, the sickness I’d experience. Day in and day out I sat on the floor. Laid next to the tub or draped myself over the toilet. Punishing myself for not being able to will my mind out of tearing my body apart. And then it happened. Salvation.

I found a GP willing to actually test. Perform a real, physical collection of material from my body that could be measured and deliver factual evidence that my pain and suffering was not in my head… One week later I was laying on the cool concrete floor of my basement apartment and a call came in. It was the Center for Disease Control. It was real. It was really real.

By time I was treated with wide spectrum antibiotics which wiped out any good bacteria I had left in my system. I weighed less than 100 Lbs. Every bone in my body was visible, each one jutted & poked out through the translucent skin. And the nail in the coffin, the bacteria was present in my system long enough to cross the blood brain barrier and infiltrate my mind.

I flew back to my home city Halifax, NS. I lost my mind, literally. I toyed with the idea of taking my own life. It was cyclical, a merry go round in my head. Close friends and family struggled to help me. Until one day it happened, I carefully and thoughtfully planned out how I would spend my last day. I’d end it all in a construction yard, impaled on the gauntlet of fork like rebar. It can be found arranged in pits far below the skeletal concrete structures of downtown development.

On my last day a close & lifelong friend approached me. They said something I can’t remember. Walked me to emergency and it all spilled out. I told the nurse everything, I cried and like a miracle no one made me wait. No one told me it was all in my head. They put me in an ambulance and moved me to a mental health facility.

A unit named the Mayflower became my home for 3 Months. My right to choose was revoked. I no longer had the choice of being afraid to get better or get worse. Each day my nurse would watch me with scrutiny as I took my medications. I began to gain weight, I began to regain my senses. My ability reason and my will to live became strong and unwavering.

After leaving the Mayflower I was picked up by another mental health support group known as Connections. Here I’d continue to grow. Everyday for three years I attended Connections, 8 Am to 4:30 Pm. I had a Worker, a Psychiatrist and peers. I had a plan.

Four years and bit later here I am writing to you. I work, full time. I have a career and I love my life. Is it perfect? No. Nothing ever is, but… It is what you make of it. I know that there is a bad place, it’s at the very bottom of existence. And no matter how alone a person may feel while they live in that bad place. There is a good place, a place where you can heal. A place where you can flourish. Big or small purpose exists in this place. I have seen it. And so can you.

Please don’t ever stop reaching out, no matter how many times your passed over, ignored or belittled. Reach out, ask for help, talk about what is in your head no matter how dark or scary it is. Tell people, tell the world. You’re not alone. Something better is out there.

Now it is your turn!
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