DEPRESSION: Breaking cultural taboos one conversation at a time

My journey to the depths of despair began somewhere around 2014, when after several years of untreated, chronic depressi...

We have yet to understand the impact of covert racism and misogyny on
the mental health of Canadian citizens, particularly “ethnic” women.
However eager they are to contribute to society, however skilled they
may be, they face a unique combination of social isolation and career
limitations that can trigger illness.

My personal story perhaps speaks to many women from ethnic
backgrounds in Ontario and all over Canada. After all, mental illness
accounts for about 10 per cent of the burden of disease in Ontario, yet
receives just seven per cent of healthcare dollars. Relative to this
burden, estimates show that it is underfunded by about $1.5 billion.

My journey to the depths of despair began somewhere around 2014, when
after several years of untreated, chronic depression, I developed
psychosis. I remember it as the “terror.” I lived alone, had no family
in Canada (although I was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec) and had a
precarious job as a freelance writer-editor. Somewhere along the way, I
thought moving to Toronto might help, but that turned out to be a
disaster as well.

The terror began when my editor at a national publication was
promoted, and I could no longer expect regular work. The $250 dollars I
received from them every month was significant. I made $500-600 a month
in total, if I was lucky; I had looked for over a year for more secure
and lucrative employment, to no avail.

But the terror I felt was, I realize, largely social. I feared
marginalization more than I feared hunger.  My former editor had been an
encouraging man, one who made me feel valued as a writer. When I no
longer had that monthly job, it was as though my only railing on a cliff
fell away. I had already questioned my worth to myself, and the answer
was now confirmed by the outside world. What value was there to me now?
It was as though I had seized to exist.

39% of Ontario workers indicate that they would not tell their
managers if they were experiencing a mental health problem.-Centre for
Mental Health and Addiction

After this, the terror came upon me, sudden and all-encompassing.
Public Health Ontario estimates the disease burden of mental health at
1.5 times greater than that of all cancers put together and I was
feeling every bit.

Photo Copyright: atic12 / 123RF Stock Photo