more than just a memory.

i studied my surroundings: beige walls and old, ugly ’90s chairs with green and blue faded floral fabric. i fidgeted in my seat. the drapes were dusty and the tv played sponge bob square pants. i fidgeted with the forms in my hand. no one made eye contact and my coffee was finished. i fidgeted with my coffee cup.

i didn’t want to be here. why was i?

my mind flashed back to that wednesday night.

i lifted my head from the pillow, now soaked from tears. the clock flashed 8:03 p.m.; i had been crying for somewhere close to two hours. as i cleaned my kleenex-covered bed, slowing picking up each damp tissue and inspecting it before piling it in the waste bin, i couldn’t remember what started the sobbing. that wasn’t new. why did i ever cry lately? it was rarely ever an event that set me off, more of a blanket – a large, heavy, suffocating blanket – of emotion.

this evening may have been about loneliness. a type of loneliness that could only be filled by love, but not people. i missed my friends but did not want to see them. more than anything i missed my family back in ontario. sister, dad, and mom. oh, my funny, little mom. i inherited her large forehead, and eyes that change colour like a mood ring. i inherited her crooked nose and affinity for blonde hair dye. it also seems i inherited her depression and anxiety.

and, as odd as you may think this statement to be, i see it as a gift.

yes, a gift that you can’t quite wrap in sparkly little bows, no matter how hard you try to put that spin on it, but a gift nonetheless.

my mother’s gift allowed me to understand her.

the times sister and i jumped on her bed and played in her room because she didn’t get out from under the covers; the times she was quick to temper; the times she isolated herself: i understand them all.

the pyramid of kleenex in my garbage can made me think. my impulses and reactions no longer felt “normal”. maybe it wasn’t just a bad day. maybe it wasn’t PMS, or that thing that person said at work, or the latest guy i was no longer dating. maybe it was me.

i spent so much time hiding my feelings of inadequacy, sadness, anxiety, and self-hate, and the tears came because i had no idea how to deal with this inner voice. i couldn’t fess up to the weakness and fear that had a firm grasp on me. if i said it out loud would i be less of a person?

i often wonder what it would be like if the dark cloud of depression didn’t follow me around; if my brain didn’t always work overtime to flood my mind with anxiety; if picturing harming myself wasn’t a thing. what would it be like to be “normal”?

i couldn’t keep at it alone, i needed help. i feared going to a doctor because i didn’t want to live in a medicated haze, and i didn’t think i belonged at a psychiatrist’s office because i wasn’t “crazy”. crazy. a word i was terrified would haunt me for the rest of my life. my sad, lonely, crazy life. with cats. at least two cats, because they needed a companion, and…


i snapped out of my downward spiral, and straight back into that beige waiting room. i stood and handed her my forms: intake, contact information, mood indicator. she was young with a nose ring and a tattoo on her right foot. she was my counsellor and i already felt like she could help me.

i was lucky enough to find calgary counselling centre, a charitable organization committed to providing compassionate, professional, and affordable counselling services to calgarians. they’ve moved into a much nicer building, with a view of the calgary tower and downtown skyline – no more beige walls or floral chairs. though i am no longer regularly going to sessions, i am thankfully for my on-and-off five years and different counsellors there. 

if you share any of these feelings or thoughts i’ve expressed, i encourage you to be brave, to look past the stigma that still very much exists, and make the hardest decision to help yourself when it feels like nothing can get better. i’m here for you. i relate to you. i cry alongside you.