We’ve all heard the saying that you have to be able to love yourself before you can truly love others… This capacity to love ourselves includes all the things we do to nurture ourselves both physically and mentally throughout the day.
We asked Carolane Stratis to share her story with us in the hope it will help other people who are going through the same experience and encourage them to take the first step on the path to healing.
Hi, my name is Carolane Stratis. I am 29 years old and have lived with depression since 2012.
How did I realize that I was ill?
My depression hit me from out of the blue. It was a day in February. I had gotten on the wrong bus on my way home the morning after a party where I had enjoyed myself a little too much. I was cold. And when I got home, I climbed underneath my blankets and just started crying. I stayed that way for a month and lost all desire to eat.
I realized that something was definitely wrong when I started to have darker thoughts. It was at that moment that I found the strength to seek help.
Taking a path that’s less clear.
I wish I could say that, from that point on, I was happy with my life and I had lots of kids, except it wasn’t entirely true. Well, as far as a big family (I’m off to a good start, with my second child on its way :P) and prince charming, I was doing okay, but my fairy tale ended right there. The road to feeling better is long and slow, and it all starts with acceptance. Along the way, you’ll have to make difficult decisions, change harmful habits and clean up your life in order to put every chance on your side. In my case, it meant adopting better eating habits and changing my circle of friends. I also had to take a 6-month break from my studies to concentrate fully on my health.
Surrounding yourself with people who support you and, especially, who know how to listen, is very important. For me, that person was my psychologist. She was always there, listening attentively, with openness and empathy – even when I wasn’t sure of what to say. Plus, having followed me for a long time, she witnessed my progress as I faced my illness and gradually overcame it. I wear many hats: I’m a mom, partner, entrepreneur and student. I have even co-authored a book with my twin, Josiane. The fact I can be all that is proof that it is possible to fulfill your potential even while suffering from mental illness.
GET BETTER ONE WORD AT A TIME
Four years later, I can once again say: Everything is great. I can’t say it will always be that way, but at least now I have the tools to help myself and share this experience with the whole world.
We are all on different paths, and each person’s experience is unique, but no one is immune to mental illness. It does not choose whom or what type of person it is going to affect. That’s why it is incredibly important that we speak about it and simply accept that it’s an illness – just like any other physical illness. If you can relate to my story, whatever your own personal circumstances might be, it’s important to seek help, to speak out, to surround yourself with support, but also to be open to change. It is your right. And yes, you have the strength to get better.