"Talking about depression will make it easier for others to talk about depression, and hopefully by continuing this momentum we can get to a place where we don’t think twice about it."

About Colin:

a young lad flashing a brilliant smile in front of the cool color tones of autumnI am the Therapist Directory Coordinator here at HeadsUpGuys, responsible for therapist onboarding and outreach initiatives. I’m deeply interested in mental health advocacy and awareness in order to reduce the stigma that still lingers around seeking help. I strongly believe that everyone should try and integrate therapy into their lives if they are able, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing mental health concerns. I strive to make openly discussing mental health and therapy a common part of everyday life.

Some other things that I like include graphic design, bouldering, and saying hello to every dog I see. I completed my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Neuroscience in 2018 at Dalhousie University and dearly miss Halifax cuisine.


In my experience so far there has not been one major turning point, but a series of smaller ones over the years. The first was going to see a general practitioner at a walk-in clinic about depression, after some much-needed encouragement from my partner at the time. Unfortunately, that appointment itself was not very helpful, but it was an important first step. You may not always get the help you need on the very first try, but sticking to it and figuring out what works for you is key. Once I had taken that first step things felt like they were moving forward, and the next step felt a little easier.

Eventually, I was able to meet with a psychologist for an introductory session, which I found immensely helpful. Talking about what I was going through with someone that didn’t know me at all was very freeing. I only saw this psychologist once, but about a year later I found a clinical counsellor that I have now been seeing for almost three years. Therapy is genuinely something I look forward to and has been so helpful in getting to understand myself better, as well as the factors that contribute to my own mental health struggles.

In addition to my journey with therapy, I was also able to see a psychiatrist and receive a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. While we still have a ways to go in getting to truly impactful and meaningful diagnostic labels, having these words written down in a report authored by a psychiatrist was very validating for me. It framed things in a way that made them simpler to discuss with people. Labels can be meaningful for some and harmful for others, and it’s by no means necessary to receive one to receive treatment and make strides in recovering, but I personally found mine massively helpful. This label helped to convince me, despite my strong internal resistance and unfounded worries, to pursue medication.


Talking about it

  • I’m going to sound like a broken record in this article, but I cannot emphasize enough how much just saying stuff out loud has helped me. I’m very fortunate to have family and friends that are open to discussing mental health, and that has certainly made it easier, but it was still a tough thing to actually do for the first time. I was really worried about how it would go, or how to convey the things I was feeling, but I think the outcome of that first instance is way less important than just doing it. Talking about depression will make it easier for others to talk about depression, and hopefully by continuing this momentum we can get to a place where we don’t think twice about it.

Understanding that struggling at all is struggling enough to take action

  • When I finally came to accept that I was probably depressed, I still wrote it off in my head as not being all that serious. My thought loop became, “Sure, ok, I might be depressed, but it’s not like super bad or anything. There are people who are dealing with really severe trauma, or who are suicidal, and those are the depressed people. They’re the ones who really need to see therapists.” This is, it turns out, the opposite of helpful.
  • Thinking like this is akin to thinking that breaking your hand and not going to a doctor is fine because some people fracture their spines. Comparing yourself to others in these situations has zero impact on your own situation, and you should seek help even if you think you don’t have it “that bad.” It’s really easy to undermine our own thoughts and feelings, especially when we’re depressed, but we need to advocate for our own health in order for it to improve.

Taking medication

  • I thought seriously about medication for over a year before I finally took the plunge and sought a prescription. I was very worried about the potential side effects, as well as the unknown effects taking medication might have on my mood/personality/thoughts. I think there is a lot of unwarranted stigma around medication, especially for mood disorders, but it is scary to think about taking something that can physiologically change your brain.
  • It is not a choice to be made lightly and you should definitely talk to a healthcare professional about it, but in the end it’s something you can really only decide for yourself. You’re going to be the one that needs to remember to take it every day, and deal with whatever effects it has. All that said, taking medication has been an overwhelming success for me and I am very glad I decided to do it. It’s not an easy road, as the first one you try and the first dose you get on may not be the best fit possible, but it has been worth it for me for the impact it has had on my mood.
  • I have now been on a pretty consistent dose for about eight months, after about six months beforehand of trying to find that dose. While it hasn’t been a panacea, it has raised my baseline mood to a really good place. I still occasionally get down or have an off day, but in those moments I feel like I have the ability to do the things I need to do in order to lift myself up. That wasn’t something that ever felt possible before.


Tell someone

  • If you think you might be depressed, tell someone. Tell anyone. Tell your dog. Tell your goldfish. Tell a bartender at a noisy bar so no one can hear what you’re saying. Send us an email and tell us! Whatever the situation is and whoever you need to talk to, actually verbalizing it – turning it from some awful thought loop to something that exists in the world – is legitimately such a big step. 

Be patient with yourself

  • My journey so far has looked something like this:
    • Accept I’m probably depressed
    • Convince myself to go see a healthcare professional
    • Try again and go see a psychologist
    • Try again and see a different counsellor
    • Get in to see a psychiatrist, after being on a waitlist for months
    • Receive a diagnosis
    • Get on medication
    • Continue therapy with medication
  • This journey has spanned about eight years. I highlight this to say two things: first, don’t be like me! It took me like two years to get from point one to point two. That’s inefficient at best. If you think you might be depressed, go to a doctor today. Second, it’s entirely ok if you are like me. I absolutely understand that “go to a doctor today” is easier said than done, for a plethora of reasons.
  • If you’ve been thinking to yourself, “Hey, maybe I’m depressed,” for the past five years, that’s completely valid. I’d still urge you to talk to someone as soon as you can, but maybe for you that’s another few weeks or months. That’s okay.

Be nice to yourself

  • I know that this sounds like some empty self-help slogan, but it’s my number one rule. Be kind to yourself, and appreciate the highs and lows and the things you are able to do. Remember to treat yourself like you’d treat a loved one, and tell yourself that you can make strides in your recovery because you deserve it. I know that in the midst of some particularly bad days you may not believe it, but it’s true.

There is no ‘right’ way to recover

  • Depression is a very subjective experience, and there is no optimized way to attempt to get better. Pretty much any step toward trying to improve is going to be a positive thing. I am doing inconceivably better today than I was at the beginning, and whether or not this is the absolute best I could be doing right now is irrelevant.
  • Take some steps, take any steps, and take the time to congratulate yourself on any steps you do take, no matter how small they may seem to you. Getting better is kind of like walking up a staircase that doesn’t reveal the next step until you’ve taken it. All the steps are different sizes and you have no fucking clue how many there are, but in order to get anywhere you have to take them all. So move forward.