Welcome to “StigmaCRUSH!”
My name is Jamie Dooks and I live in beautiful Prince Edward Island, Canada. To be honest, I feel kind of awkward drafting an intro about myself…not really sure where to begin, actually. I guess in part because it feels as though my life is in a constant state of transition, meaning I continue to redefine myself.
All this to say, I feel as though I’m not the same person I used to be, nor am I the person that everyone thinks I am. There’s more to my story.
What you might know… Let me first tell you a few facts that people in my little world generally know about me: I am a husband to a wonderful woman and father of four terrific kids. I am educated, having obtained a Master’s Degree in Economics. I am employed professionally and teach at the local university. I am a hockey dad and coach.
What you don’t know… Now let me tell you a few things about myself that people do/did NOT know about me: In 2012, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I spent thirteen months in psychiatric counseling, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, depending on the severity of my symptoms at the time.
Between sessions, I spent my time researching this disorder called ‘depression’. I wrote therapeutically, documenting not only what I learned from my research efforts, but how I was feeling, my thoughts and perspectives. I needed to better understand what I was struggling with and learn how to be proactive in effectively managing its oppressive symptoms.
I discovered hope…I became obsessed with finding a way out, a solution to my mental disorder. There had to be a way. By immersing myself in literature and sharing/debating my perspectives with my doctor during sessions, I began to understand and see things more clearly. I opened my eyes in my disorder and saw a light. For the first time in a very long time, I had hope.
I found purpose…Throughout my journey in healing, I discovered purpose in my life: I wanted to help other people struggling with depression, see what I was able to see, and truly find hope in their own struggle. I took my writing and pieced it together to form a book which would serve as my soap box. I created this website/blog to serve as my portal to reach out to the world, to spread the message of hope.
All of this because I wanted to make a difference. There I was, standing before my soapbox, staring down at it, prepared to spread the word, but something was wrong. I couldn’t lift my foot to step on it. Something was holding me back.
“Stigma” was my roadblock…I was scared. I was scared to talk openly about my disorder because of the perceived stigma I had attached to it. It was bigger than I was. Despite my best intentions, my plans for helping the world in this disorder, my inability to break the stigma deemed me powerless. I had a hunger to fight but I was too weak to lift the sword.
This developed into a considerable source of frustration in my life, in my disorder. I especially felt sickened hearing about individuals close to home taking their own lives while I just stood by, helpless, with my manuscript hidden below a pile of papers in a drawer. Would I have made a difference in their lives? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But at least I would be out there, trying to help instead of being silent, watching the tragic consequences of depression unfold. The stigma I cultivated sickened me, to the point where I had enough.
I crushed stigma… It was time to stand up to my stigma and destroy it. I did so by forcing myself to do the one thing that I was terrified to do for a very long time: talk to my children about my disorder. I knew that if I could garner the courage to talk about such a painful and difficult experience to the very people in my life that mean absolutely everything to me, then I could take that critical first step onto my soapbox, to put my plan into motion. After a very difficult and emotional discussion with my family, I overcame my fear.
You are reading this because I crushed my stigma in depression.
This is stigmaCRUSH.com.
Yours in mental health,