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Bell Let’s Talk

Published: Wednesday, Jan 27th 2016, 10:01am

​By Stephen Safinuk

Today seems like a good day as any to branch out a little bit, and tell you a little bit about myself. I have an “about me” page on here, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. In fact, looking at it now, it really doesn’t crack the surface about who I am. Occasionally, in the coming months, I’m going to spend a little time on my blog telling you a little bit about the guy whose crap you read on a regular basis.

On a day like today, where people are so willingly opening up to discuss mental health, I figure that is a great place to start. Today, you get to delve into my head, where very few have gone before.

#BellLetsTalk

20% of all Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Be it depression, anxiety or bi-polar disorders. As a sports nut, I see some irony in being a part of a major statistic. I am one of those 20% who suffers from depression. Up until last year, I fought that battle alone. I put on a face so well that even my wife, family and friends had no idea. It got easier over time to just hide myself away for fear of being seen as weak to everyone around me. Even as I watched others in my life give in to this terrible disease, I stayed silent. To me, it seemed like the right choice. I’d lived with it for so long, that dealing with it no longer seemed possible. I would tell myself that I was fine, and immerse myself in other things. Those things were sports, more often than not. There is a reason that I am openly discussing this on a sports blog.

For me, sports have always been a passion that I have been very vocal about. What many don’t know is the reason for it. I lost my mother at a very young age (#EffCancer) and was not very good at dealing with emotions at that point. Honestly, at 8 years old most people aren’t really prepared or capable of handling that kind of loss. I found myself instantly throwing my mind into sports in every way I could find. I had found an escape from the pain in what I thought was a constructive, meaningful way. For a long time, it was constructive. I could spend 3 hours at a Rider game, and not dwell on the feelings that so often try to drag me down. I could spend an hour or two on one of my many rec league sports teams and not have to feel anything. For years, this worked as my only real meaningful escape from my problems.

Like so many before me who have dealt with severe depression, I do have one, thankfully unsuccessful, suicide attempt on my mental record. This disease almost beat me once, but even that didn’t change how I handled myself. I never sought help then either. I chalked my survival up as just another day. For years, I continued on, fighting in silence. I use the term “fighting” very loosely. Avoided is a more likely term.

That finally changed on January 28th, 2015. For the first time in my life, I was willing to openly admit to several people in my life, that I had depression, and it was a battle I was losing. For those who don’t know me, Florida is one of my favourite places in the world. It’s a place that I have been to regularly over the past few years. On that day, last year, I sat in a meeting room at an IT conference in Orlando, and it finally hit me. As I sat between sessions, reading twitter, following along with many of the #BellLetsTalk tweets that others were posting, I realized for the first time that I was truly not alone. I finally decided it was time to talk. It may have been by text, but as I sat there messaging my wife; I felt a weight lift off my shoulders. She didn’t see me as weak for being depressed, but strong for having the courage to tell her. It took the courage of others to make me finally see that I didn’t have to do this alone. I have still been rather guarded with my depression, telling only those people I truly trust. Today, I realized that every story that gets told is another example to those who suffer, that they do not have to suffer alone. I am hoping that my story helps someone. Even if it’s just one person, then it will be well worth it.

If you think you might need to talk to someone, talk.
If you know you need to talk to someone, talk.
If you are sure that you don’t need to talk to anyone, listen.
You never know who in your life might be in need of someone to talk to.

Consider this an open invitation to anyone who reads this. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate. DM me (@Safimod), email me (Safonsports@gmail.com), I don’t care what time it is. Everyone deserves to feel like someone is willing to listen. So let’s talk!

 

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