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SOMETIMES I wake up in the early hours of the morning and think that I can feel—the way you always feel things in those dark hours of despair—the grips of the depression that was so much of my life three years ago. I remember that grip so well. How all-encompassing it was. How much it permeated every aspect of my life. The way that it felt not so much like a sadness as a belief—a belief that I would always feel this way, that things would always be this hard, because clearly I had nothing to be sad about on the face of a good life with family and friends. I was loved, and yet I was still sad, and so clearly the problem was me, wasn’t it? Clearly the sadness was not something that could be fixed or made to go away because it was inside of me, a part of who I was, a way I saw the world. Shadows that would be in the corners of every room I entered.


I was wrong about that, then. A diagnosis of major depression and subsequent medication and therapy saw me through the rest of that time and into brighter days. It took a long time, but eventually I got to the point of believing in the world again. The things that I could do in it, the magic that could be.


But also, I was right, a little. That way of seeing the world—it was a part of me, and is, and so I wake up now in the early morning hours and sometimes feel that same despair. When you live with mental illness, the knowledge that things can get better but will also always be in danger of sliding back into worse is a tricky thing to balance. It’s a puzzle that can’t be solved, especially when that puzzle lies in your own head. Sometimes talking helps, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes writing helps, and sometimes it doesn’t do that either. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just be there with one another.


Knowing this is also, I’m discovering, an important part of the conversation. Which is why we here at Little Fiction | Big Truths are proud and so honoured to feature the work of three amazing writers today in support of Bell Let’s Talk. This is our second year of supporting this initiative, and we couldn’t be happier to continue the conversation. Today, we’re sharing the words of Sarah Boudreau, Beth Gilstrap, and Liz Harmer in an effort to show other puzzles of mental health that we live and wrestle with, other ways that we’re all trying to survive. What are the mysteries that lie locked deep in our brains and our psyches? How do we reach for those mysteries and also keep on reaching for the beauty of the world? How do you, at the end of the day, find the strength to keep on going?


Let’s talk about it, and write about it, and be with one another as we work to find our way.






READ THE ESSAYS:

Liz Harmer | Sarah Boudreau | Beth Gilstrap



 
An introduction by Amanda Leduc
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