We all have unique stories, and sharing them can be both empowering and healing. My name is Sharla, and this is #WhyIWalk.
As a child, I struggled with a mysterious ache in my chest, which doctors couldn't quite figure out. I was convinced I had asthma but all tests would indicate otherwise. In those days, mental health wasn't a topic that was widely discussed, so it wasn't until someone close to me suggested that I might have anxiety that I began to dig deeper. In 2011, at 20, I was finally diagnosed with anxiety... but it wasn't long before I started experiencing depression as well.
I've come to view depression as waves - sometimes they're big, sometimes they're small, but the key is to keep swimming. Unfortunately, during each 'big wave' of anxiety, I found myself losing friends, feeling isolated, and overwhelmed with shame. Reaching out seemed pointless, so I kept my emotions bottled up instead, which further isolated me.
At the beginning of 2020, I discovered the Defeat Depression Committee, and it changed my life. Managing social media for the campaign allowed me to channel my creativity into designing graphics and openly discussing mental health, a topic I once felt ashamed to talk about. I was brought on at the national level in 2022, where I poured my heart into creating content that resonated with others.
The year 2022 also saw me facing another 'big wave' of depression. But this time, something was different. Instead of losing friends, I found myself embraced by a warm and supportive community of people who understood the importance of sharing our stories and not facing our struggles alone. This community was formed by the incredible individuals I met through the Defeat Depression campaign and the Mood Disorders Society of Canada (MDSC).
Being a part of the Defeat Depression campaign has shown me that change starts with each of us. Every single person deserves the opportunity to talk about their experiences, find the support they need, and know they are not alone. That's why I walk - to raise awareness, fight stigma, and help create a world where no one has to face mental illness in isolation. Together, we can Defeat Depression and make a meaningful difference in the lives of those around us.
To donate to my team: https://mdsc.akaraisin.com/ui/DD2023/t/BrockvilleDD