I was recently challenged by my best friend to write about gratitude. We’ve all seen the gratitude challenges on Facebook:  post about 3 things you appreciate, then challenge 3 friends to write 3 things that they are grateful for. For a nice blonde lady it’s a lot of math, but this would normally be the kind of challenge that I would participate in without hesitation. It’s fun and helps to remind us of all of the things that we take for granted but forget to acknowledge in our day to day. For someone who is prolific on social media, blessed beyond belief, and living proof that a positive attitude can get you through the darkest of days, I thought: “This should be a cake walk.” 

Except that it wasn’t. This week I was clinically depressed and had no appreciation for the life I’d been given. I only wanted to die. I couldn’t make a pithy proclamation about my gratitude for the sunset, or the sunrise, or my beautiful children or my health. Every bone in my body hurt and I just wanted to pull down the shades, literally and metaphorically. 

I’m trying to accept that my depression is no different from diabetes, MS, or even cancer but there remains a stigma around mental health. Depression is an insidious and shameful disease, one that we are only beginning to bring out of the shadows. The world is shocked and saddened by the death of Robin Williams, one of the most beloved actors and comedians of our time. The news that he was battling a severe depression surprised many – how could someone so funny, talented and kind be DEPRESSED? But for someone who suffers from depression, I know that darkness can lurk very close to the surface of a carefully constructed facade of  happiness. Depression is a siren call that has lured many wonderful, worthy, beloved men and women to their deaths.  For some, death is the only way to silence the screams. 

Depression is a very real disease and yes, it is my disease. If there was one thing that I was grateful for this week, it was prescription medicine. Because without hardcore antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication I might have succumbed to the call of the sirens myself. But this wasn’t something that I could tell my Facebook friends, blog subscribers or Twitter followers; no one wants to read about someone’s sads on-line. It took every ounce of humility and desperation I possessed to tell the people I loved that I was suffering and that I needed their help. And during this dark night of the soul, I found something to be truly grateful for: 

The people I loved showed up. 

My family opened their arms. They gave me a place to feel safe and lay my head. My friends were on deck. They answered the Bat Call in every time zone around the world and made me feel worthy. I talked to my family, my friends and let them hold me with the words and their love while I cried. 

Hour after hour, I clung to sanity and prayed for light. It finally arrived at dawn & for a few fitful hours I slept. My children awoke the next morning pining  for bacon & bike rides as if nothing had happened. They remained blissfully unaware of the storm they had narrowly escaped. My little people reminded me of the big picture and kept me alive for another day. And for that,  I am truly grateful.


Pam is a Vancouver-based mother of two who writes with honesty, humor & hope about her post-wife life at divorcedoula.me After working through a difficult separation and divorce. she now enjoys a enlightened co-parenting relationship with her former husband. She started DivorceDoula.me to share her experiences and resources with others who may be going through a separation or divorce of their own.


  1. I’m glad your kids had bacon and bike rides, and that the bat call was answered, because we love you Pam. I’m sorry that you have this battle to face, and I’m glad you know that you don’t have to fight it alone. xo

    • The only remark I have to make If I can get better and ask for help I think anyone Can Iknow it’s hard to do but you will find in the long run it’s also an easy thing that’s has to be done if you want to live. I did and here I’m am.I have never regreted doing this for my family they were always there for me in bad times&good times and in my case one other person and that was
      GOD without him it makes less sense I know there is A lot of people that will say ‘s no no .Just give him and this a try.It’s well worth it the med’s you will get
      Off is worth it. Sometimes my brain doesn’t want to
      shut off.

  2. Loving you so hard, lady. We wrote the same post today. You’re my fave. Thanks for staying alive with me. xo

  3. I want to reach through this screen and hug you so hard. Bless you for telling your story and being vulnerable. Your story just helped another. I know it. I can feel it in my soul. ox

  4. I pray one day people will treat all mental illness with the seriousness they do cancer. I tried so hard to get my dad to understand that his alcoholism needed to be treated just as badly as my uncle’s cancer…but he was so embarrassed and ashamed about it. Maybe one day it will change.

  5. I have read tons of these stories this week as people work through the tragic death of Robin Wiliams and depression makes the limelight….but NONE of them touched me the way YOUR story did. It is beautifully written and made ME sad along with you. I am so glad you have those kinds of friends and family that flocked around you and held you up when you couldn’t do it for yourself. God bless them AND you. You will overcome.

  6. Laurie Hollman, PhD. at Parental Intelligence
    Pam, Sorry I was away offline and didn’t see your post until now. This may sound odd, but at least you recognized you were depressed, so you could reach out to your friends and take medicine. Sometimes it takes a depressed person a long time to realize their inner world isn’t what it used to be because depression can sneak up on you slowly. Fortunately, it also dissipates but slowly.
    Next week I’ll be posting an article on mothers with depression on my blog, so I’ll think of you and hope it is helpful (lauriehollmanphd.com/blog-parental-intelligence). As you said, depression is a biological disease but somehow even in 2014 it creates shame because it’s not something a person can control and people confuse that with some arcane notion that self-discipline of the “chin up” variety can be done when that advice is so off the mark and unempathic that it hurts. I wish those advice givers would understand that depression isn’t something a person “fights” or “gives in to” or “controls.” We don’t tell people to fight a fever or a pinched nerve. We tell them to rest, seek comfort, stay warm, eat when you can, let others take care of you if you want it, let healing take place. Sounds like you have some people who are saying the right things. Stick with them!
    Best wishes

  7. Marie with the Bad Hair Reply

    Thank you.
    I mean it – THANK YOU.
    I can’t thank you enough.
    What you have written will really help me support a dear friend who is going through some very hard stuff right now.
    God bless you.

  8. I am fortunate to have incredible friends & family to support me but will admit that notes of encouragement from strangers, knowing that I may have helped someone better understand this disease, means the world to me. Thank you everyone. For reading, sharing & talking about depression. Keep talking.

  9. I am just now reading this, Pam. I couldn’t bring myself to read it before as it is hitting so close to home these days. I’m here for you. We can be here for each other. Love you!! xoxo

  10. Generous, courageous, beautiful you, Pam. We love you so, and are always here for you. xo

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