I have been lucky in my life…
I have lived my life, trying to make good choices… being open and as transparent as I can be.
Not having hidden agendas, means or methods.
I do business on a handshake, and when I say I’m going to do something, I do it.
I’m not saying I’m perfect… far from it !!!
But with things inside my control, I have relatively few regrets in my life.
I got to spend amazing quality time with both my parents before they passed away.
I have a wonderful, loving wife, and live in a house that is paid for.
Through charity and work, I have met and made wonderful friends, who we don’t see enough… but life is busy… and we touch base as often as we can.
There is one regret I have, and wish I could have a “do over” on.
When I ran a Store at UBC, I found out too late that one of my employees suffered from Depression.
It was 1993, well before I personally encountered depression, and before I knew really anything about it.
I had noticed the healed scars on her wrists, but as she was an athlete, I never gave it too much mind, just putting it down to a sports surgery.
Cheryl was a member of the UBC Basketball Team, and after and between classes, she worked at the Store.
She had a quiet sense of humour, and when engaged, would join in the spirited back and forth banter of our Crew.
It was late May, and we were between Seasons. The School Year was past, and exams were done. Tourists were not yet travelling.
With her room mate out of town for a few days… one day, Cheryl didn’t show up for her shift.
The phone calls to her house were, at first, joking… but as the day wore on, and there was no reply to our calls… we became more worried.
Later that afternoon, we finally got an answer that was far worse than we’d feared… not that she had been in an accident, but that she had committed suicide.
We closed the store and sent everyone home.
I went for a walk in the bright sunshine, and wrote down some words in the Japanese Gardens on the UBC Campus.
Her death frightened me… beyond reasonable measure.
A few days later, when the arrangements had been made, and it was time for her funeral… I couldn’t muster enough courage to go.
I’ve always regretted that.
Her, taking her own life, scared me.
That she was able to be at work… be for all appearances normal… go out and have dinner with friends… come home, compose a goodbye letter, and extinguish her own life?
It shook me to my core.
Further, it shook me so much, that I didn’t go to the Service. I “blinked”…
Even as I write this, I can’t put into words what it was that kept me from going… but I didn’t go.
A few years later, I would have my own encounter with depression.
The relatively sudden loss of both my Parents, and some other much loved family members… combined with a change in my job, moving to a new house, and other factors, all combined to push me into my own battle with depression.
With support and help, I made it back.
This upcoming weekend, there is a Mental Health Conference in Vancouver, dealing with the stigma and fear associated with Depression, and other Mental Health issues.
I know a lot of people who have it, or who had it.
I have fought it a few times, myself.
I won’t be at the MHC YVR 10 Conference, but I will throw my voice into the mix, saying I have battled Depression, and I believe that the more voices that speak up… the less the power that THAT stigma has.
I wish I had been able to better prepared to help Cheryl… and that there would have been better opportunities for support and counseling for her.
And I wish I would have gone to the Funeral, to support her friends and co-workers who didn’t blink.