July 15, 2021 | Alberta
Mental health issues affect us all, and everyone can experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Depression, for example, is a medical condition like any other and anyone, even the best experts and specialists, can suffer from it.
Meet Victoria Kuczynski, a counsellor at Friends for Mental Health, who recently spoke with us in an interview.
"I am interested in mental health issues because I have personally had a few mental health difficulties in the past. Having a solid understanding of mental health, however, did not prevent me from experiencing depression following the birth of my daughter," said Victoria.
Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but what do you do when emotions such as hopelessness and worthlessness take hold and just won’t go?
"I was watching my daughter develop, and couldn’t see the beauty of it. It felt like I was wearing dark tinted glasses all the time and couldn’t see anything nice through them. I had suicidal thoughts and people around me couldn’t understand what was happening to me," said Victoria.
"You have this beautiful child, why aren't you happy?" they asked.
With the constant fear of not being a good mother, not being able to sleep, suffering from anxiety, and realizing that she couldn’t function to her own standards, Victoria decided to consult her family doctor who referred her to a psychiatrist who prescribed antidepressants. Her healing strategy had two components: medication to alleviate neurochemical imbalance and meetings with a psychologist to discuss her intrusive thoughts and faulty patterns.
"The feeling of drowning, gasping for air, not being able to get out of bed in the morning, and difficulty falling asleep are all indicators that should not be ignored. When these symptoms appear, it is essential to talk to someone. Several listening services are available these days, and most are anonymous. A listening ear can make all the difference in the world when the going gets tough," said Victoria.
Although she has overcome her postpartum depression, Victoria does not consider herself cured.
"I think I have better self-awareness because I’m working in the field, but I have to continue seeking help and talking to professionals. I am constantly in recovery similar to the Alcoholic Anonymous model where you are always in recovery. It is the same struggle," said Victoria.
Victoria believes that stigma is often a bigger problem than the mental illness itself because it prevents people from getting the help they need or prevents them from speaking to someone. In many cases, people are reluctant to talk about the pain they are in with their loved ones.
"Everyone is okay when they say that they need to go to the optometrist, but it’s a different story if they have an appointment with a psychologist. There is suddenly a cloud of shame and people are afraid of being judged. It shouldn’t be that way. For me, talking about my depression has helped me get over it," said Victoria.
According to Victoria, mental illnesses should be taken as seriously as physical illnesses.
"I want to give people who have mental illness the ability to speak up, and not be afraid to talk about it. The more we talk about mental illness, the less people will be surprised when they hear it," said Victoria.
For help or more information about mental health, visit:
Or call: Centre for Suicide Prevention at 1-833-456-4566