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Starting a dialogue about depression in Red Deer

Red Deer Advocate - 3/31/2018

Barry Samson spent 30 years battling depression and now wants to help others out of the abyss.

The Saskatchewan native who lives in B.C. knows mental health is a pressing social issue as life gets more complicated and a growing number of people are struggling to cope.

"It's a huge problem… People become tangled up in misery," said Samson.

He plans to start a community dialogue about depression in Red Deer through a seminar and workshop on Saturday, May 12, at Red Deer'sCentre for Spiritual Living (6315 Horn Street).

The life coach will bring with him a Calgary psychologist and several people who have been helped with depression to speak and listen to attendees.

The goal of this event, as with a similar one held in Vancouver, is to start a supportive, accessible network for people with depression and their loved ones, said Samson. "We want to connect people who are very disconnected."

He knows the value of this, since he had felt depressed and isolated for most of his life.

Samson describes his late father as verbally abusive. His older brother had undiagnosed schizophrenia and was "extremely violent."

As a child, Samson knew his mother only stayed in her marriage because she was told she couldn't take him, her youngest child, with her. She became an alcoholic. When she died of a heart attack after a terrible domestic row, "I thought I killed her," said Samson, who was then 11 years old.

Throughout high school he felt weighed down by sadness, anger and self-blame. His emotionally cold father "convinced me I was just like my… brother. There was no one to help me navigate this," he recalled.

Although Samson attained post-secondary education, become a guide and outfitter, and got married, he could not overcome the hurt of his childhood. For many decades he wrestled with despair.

Samson finally sought one-on-one counselling in his early 40s, which helped immensely. For the past dozen years he's regularly attended a retreat on Gabriola Island.

He knows there's no simple answer to depression. Sometimes counselling helps, sometimes medication, sometimes both.

But he believes it does no good to keep negative feelings bottled up. "By sharing and expressing their emotional life," he said, people will begin realizing they are not alone, help is available, and they don't have to suffer in solitude.

For more information about the 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. seminar (entry is $10, or by donation), please visit Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


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