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.

My goal is to make every day feel like summer.

HOW I ESCAPE THE SUBURBS 

Travel

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.

Style

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.

20 Comments on Welcome to the Suburban Escapist

  1. Dana my dear you are inspiring! As I assist my children with their mental health and struggle with my own I know the daily battles they are fighting. You are a rock star! Miss that beautiful smile but this will be great for staying connected! 🥰😍

  2. Good for you, Dana! Great article! Depression is not that rare and in many ways is finally being recognized as illness where the symptoms are not just mental/emotional but affect all body systems.
    One time, I had brain fog, mistakes in writing (spelling, left out words, editing half-complete). It devastated me. Where did my usual me go? They second, subsquent time it hits….it is never quite like the first. Recovery takes internal patience to the 9th degree, tons of trust in oneself and often when not everyone else in your life gets it and understands, even when there was someone else affected in the family! Phew!.. More stress when some kind of stress is often the culprit!! A great mood-disorder psychiatrist for assessment, meds when needed, and a counsellor are mainstays in my case. Rest. I also use a light therapy lamp and watch sunrises. The Equilibrium Group in Halton has great information and group support too! Keep blogging!

  3. Dana,
    This post is wonderful, honest, brave and funny….and it’s all you!! Fabulous!!! Can’t react to read more!

  4. Wow Dana, I had no idea. You make all that perfection look soooo easy! Way to take some positive action that will undoubtedly help other too!

  5. I’m hooked already Dana! You ALWAYS make me laugh and even on some of those gloomy days you speak of
    you still “showed up” and manage to make others smile. You’re a true fighter and this is one of the things that I admire
    most about you. I’m so proud of you and I can’t wait to read it all!

  6. I so enjoy reading your blogs Dana. Keep them coming please. I too suffer from Sad and I am dreading this up coming Winter. I’ve made a list of to do’s to keep me busy and motivated but I also give myself permission to nap and have a me day once a week or whenever I need it really. Oh and as for your Dirty Book Club…I love them! Have you read The Kiss Quotient? If not, let’s do a book swap!

    • OMG — I haven’t read the Kiss quotient but I will be reviewing some dirty books next week. I’d love to do a book swap, maybe I should put one of those little free libraries on my front lawn but only dirty books are allowed. Too risqué for Oakville?

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