"Depression isn’t something to be ashamed of."

About Kevin Dyck:

I’m a writer, trail runner, mountain biker, cheese maker and do what I can to raise awareness about mental health by telling honest and open stories about my own struggle. Professionally, I manage the Information Services department for a K-12 school board, helping great people help others find their direction.

Kevin’s Story

What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression?

I’m not sure that there’s been one major turning point but more a number of small steps. Off the cuff I want to say the turning point was my lowest, after the death of a friend in an avalanche. But honestly, the illness ebbs and flows and has been with me for the bulk of 30 years. My reaction to the avalanche really highlighted that I needed help and was the first time I was actually diagnosed, and both of those things helped my wife and I target what I was fighting against, making it identified and almost tangible. But there was no overnight turning point.

It’s been more of a long process of learning more about myself and my illness, and then trying to work within that context to be happy and healthy, trying to develop tools and strategies to coexist with depression.

What are some things that really helped?

Diagnosis

  • As odd as it sounds, getting that label from a psychiatrist provided something to rally around. I was the same person before being diagnosed as I was after, but I finally had something to pinpoint, rather than just some vague feeling that life, well, sucked. 😉

Communication

  • I started my blog Dyckknows.com in 2014 as a tiny little space on the internet to showcase my writing. It quickly evolved into a pretty honest exposition of my inner workings. Once I gained the courage to start sharing the site on social media and it gained traffic, I felt like my community of support was growing. Not only did I have support from my family, I had people contact me to talk about their own troubles, so the constant sense of isolation that comes with depression started to wane.

Nature

  • When I’m not working or sleeping, I spend just about all my time outside. I’m fortunate to live in a gorgeous mountain town (my gratitude for this never ends) so I’m either running or biking in the forests. For me, outdoor activity is as good as my anti-depressants, and I can’t overstate the healing power of mountains and forests.

Mindfulness

  • Ya, I know, it’s a catchphrase, but I believe that there’s really something to it. There’s a ton of information on the internet about ways to practice mindfulness. It’s not an instant panacea, but at the very least you get to feel like you get a few minutes everyday, guilt free, to do something to help yourself. That alone is good.

What advice would you give to other guys fighting depression?

First, don’t expect a quick cure and 100% turnaround. We have a habit in western culture to go for the all-or-nothing. In my experience, depression is a hell of a lot more fickle than that. You’ll have bad days and good days, and you’ll have huge expanses of time during which you feel like you’ve kicked it. That’s generally when you go off your meds, stop counselling and start drinking again. And then one day you wake up and you feel like you’re back in the thick of it. Maybe you’ll be lucky and find a “cure”, but if you expect it you’re setting yourself up for a whole bunch of disappointment.

I’ve found the better approach is to accept that this is a part of you. Own it. And then start working with the people around you to develop strategies to cope and find tools that help you wring the happiness out of live.

Second, and I’ve already mentioned it, is being honest. You don’t have to air your filthiest laundry, but this thing depression isn’t something to be ashamed of. Talk to the people that love you and tell them what’s going on. If nobody loves you (yes, someone does), find a counsellor, an online forum, the homeless guy in the park, anybody that will let you talk to them. Have conversations. Have dialogue. Build community. You’re not alone.

– Kevin Dyck, creator of DyckKnows.com and TwentyMoreMinutes.com based out of Canmore, Alberta, Canada.facebookinsta

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