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"I always found the mere act of seeking help very empowering."

About Donald D’Haene:

I was one of the first males in Canada to have his abuser charged with sexual assault and go public with his story in 1981. I was a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s 2-part, 200 Male Survivors Episodes in 2010. I have been a writer, author, actor, director and producer. I freelance write for The Good Men Project. My last column was on my bucket list item doing stand up comedy for the first time: “Standup – Deliverance From Living Below the Surface.”

Don’s Story

WHAT WAS THE MAJOR TURNING POINT IN YOUR RECOVERY FROM DEPRESSION?

An early turning point was my first visit to a therapist in 1981 at age 20, even though I was in a religion (Jehovah’s Witness) that was dead set against therapy. Just in the first visit, he was the first person to make me believe that my feelings and thoughts were important. A decade later I found a therapist who helped me realize my bouts of depression were normal within my frame of reference, that the expectations on me to be “superman” were not all of my own making but the dissembling of that reality was within my power.

Even though the total of my combined therapy only encompasses a period equaling four of my 58 years (ending two decades ago), I always found the mere act of seeking help very empowering. Ie. Putting into words what only I could realize.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT REALLY HELPED?

  • Taking a holiday from thinking, remembering, feeling. Literally taking on projects that forced me outside of myself for periods of time (theatre, acting, volunteering).
  • Asking questions of other people and listening… you will discover everyone has a story. You will learn to live and exist outside the box that is your experience.
  • Journaling your thoughts and experiences.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER GUYS FIGHTING DEPRESSION?

There is no one way to be; find your own way of being. There is no one ultimate example of what depression is supposed to look like.

I find irony in everything, including depression.

For six years, I supported/listened/helped find employment/encouraged someone who was/is depressed. Recently, I wrote a column in which I revealed my struggle with depression for the first time and shared the column by email with this person. I haven’t heard from this person since. Not a peep. Meanwhile, I still see their daily posts on their battle with depression. So you can’t expect or predict how someone will react to your disclosure.

We who experience depression can help each other but we must help ourselves first, though I still would rather make someone laugh then talk about IT!

My acquaintance and I are both poster models for depression but opposite extremes. My friend talks about feelings about depression all the time. After I wrote about my depression for the first time (after decades of columns) the reaction I got was, “YOU depressed?!” When my friend makes posts though, he hears, “You’re still depressed?!”

I’m king of change the subject, make them laugh. My friend is queen of pain, angst. I am happy being me. You can be too!

– Donald D’Haene, author (Father’s Touch) and one of the male Survivors on the Oprah 200 Survivors Episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, 2010, based in London, Ontario, Canada. twitter