Hello, my name is Dana and I am a Depressionista. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which means my depression is tied to the weather; my mood plummets every fall and stays low until spring. I’m also a mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, writer and shopaholic. On a perfect day, I have a perfect life and I remind myself over and over how very lucky I am. But sometimes, as great as my life is, I am completely overwhelmed — and even though I’m so, so lucky, depression gets the best of me. On those days, I hibernate under my duvet, I go to bed at 8:30 p.m., I stop calling the people I love because my brain tells me they don’t want to hear from me when I’m down. I’m also much more likely to burst into tears at the drop of a hat.
Depressionista — (n) One who is depressed, but by God, she’s fabulous!
I was first diagnosed with depression in university but I’ve had it all my life, even as a kid. When my son was born, I experienced post-partum depression, which was a whole new kind of suckage. Not only was I a sleep-deprived mess, I was also responsible for loving and nurturing two little people while my brain lied to me in weird and sometimes exciting ways. It told me my husband didn’t like the baby, that I should leave him, that I should just drive right into that highway median because I was so, so tired and I just couldn’t do life anymore.
Lies. Depression lies all the time. She is such a bitch.
Flannery O’Conner once said “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” and that pretty much sums up my writing life. I would add that sometimes I don’t know what I feel either. I’m so busy driving, picking up, folding laundry and making dinners no one will eat, that I often forget to check in with my feelings. Sometimes I forget to have them at all, until I start crying for no apparent reason!
I started the Suburban Escapist because I work very hard on my mental health and over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to battle depression and win. And I know I’m not alone. According to the Canadian Association for Mental Health, one in five Canadians suffers from depression in any given year. So, I fight and I share what I’ve learned because sometimes being OK is hard work. I have to take care of my mind every single day; I take antidepressants and Omega-3s, I exercise, I do yoga, I meditate…and if that doesn’t work, well, then I escape the suburbs however I can.
HOW I ESCAPE THE SUBURBS
I escape the cold Canadian winters whenever I can. Sometimes my escapes are just little road trips and sometimes I’m lucky enough to head to a beach, where the sun is warm and my SAD is better. I come back stronger and ready to face the remaining cold months, content in the knowledge that summer is closer than it was yesterday. Sunshiny Canadian summers are the ultimate balm for my achy heart and I spend the warm months building up my good memory cache with trips to the cottage and family road trips.
Sometimes I can’t just leave the country to escape my depression (so unfair, right?) Money can’t buy happiness but shopping for pretty, colourful things is one of my go-to mood boosters. It may sound trite but getting out and looking at beautiful things on a cold, gloomy day is exponentially better for my mood than staying home and hiding under my duvet. Last year, during a particularly bad bout of SAD, I discovered the whimsical world of Lilly Pulitzer fashion and I spent way too much money updating my wardrobe with bright colours and tropical prints. It’s hard to feel truly awful when you look like a tropical cocktail. I love my Lilly so much, I decided to integrate that same sense of fun into my home decor. Bye-bye beige, hello flamingos!
Dana’s Dirty Book Club
What do I do when I can’t travel or shop? I escape into the pages of a dirty book. I make no secret of the fact that my favourite books are equal parts sexy, funny and well written but I guess not everyone is so open about their smutty cravings. I tried to start a Dirty Book Club in Oakville but it never really took off. Apparently, people are eager to ask me for suggestions in private but they’re less willing to discuss the juicy parts in public. I’m not ready to stop talking about dirty books all together though; so, I’ll just talk about them here. By myself. But I know you’re totally going to read my book reviews and read a few dirty books too.