Thursday, July 13, 2017

Let’s Talk About Depression

Been Down That Road

Because I have been there, I can speak sincerely about the effects of depression.  Feelings of helplessness, fear, and lack of confidence consume our abilities to think clearly.  A depressed state of mind is not a happy place to visit and certainly not a happy place to live.  Admitting our need for help takes great strength.  In our weakness, we can be made strong.

During my encounter with depression, I discovered an interesting fact. My depression wasn’t triggered by one major event but sneaked up on me in a series of events, big and small.  The responsibilities, the unfortunate incidents, and the conflicts were likened to bricks being laid on my shoulders. The weight from the combined lot was overbearing and overpowering.  Tears of helplessness overtook me without any warning.  Like Jell-O, which wiggles and jiggles on a plate, I too had no backbone, no strength, no form. 

I was reluctant to take prescribed anti-depressants until a dear friend and pharmacist shared with me a different perspective, “If you had a headache, wouldn’t you take an aspirin?”   Medication alone didn’t fix the depression.  Talking to a counsellor to sort through the debris, the problems in my life, helped pull me through to recovery, allowing me to be freed from dependency on any medications. 

Life challenges are just that … “Challenges”.  Challenges come in all shapes and sizes and mean different things to different people.  Regardless who you are, what your occupation is, or where you live, depression can sneak up on you. Our ability to face and deal with life challenges will depend on our own resourcefulness and support networks.


Recognize the Symptoms

The Canadian Association of Farm Advisors (CAFA), Parkland Chapter, invited David Dyste, a Master Practitioner of Clinical Counselling, to share his presentation about the Warning Signs of Depression and Suicidality in Farmers and Farming Families.   Next to family members, we as farm advisors are often the farmer’s first point of contact.  Knowing the warning signs is valuable knowledge for an advisor because often a farming client doesn’t recognize or is unwilling to confront their reality. They are consumed by their circumstances, assigning blame to a list of other factors, rather than willingly addressing their need for professional help. 

In his presentation, David adequately described the symptoms of depression for our benefit.


The 2016 harvest was a devastating one, filled with high expectations and predicted record yields. For many farmers, the challenge was getting the grain from the field to the bin.  The task was impossible when cloudy and rainy skies consumed the month of October.  In November, when the combines made their way into the fields, their efforts were limited to only a number of adequate harvest days. Convincing oneself that weather conditions are out of our control is difficult.  Last year was challenging beyond words when farm income and sweat equity laid in the fields over winter.   Circumstances like this can leave many feeling helpless, hopeless, and trapped.

Depression is sneaky, robbing you of your ability to think clearly. Logical reasoning is compromised and clouded.  I have witnessed inappropriate business decisions made which resulted in irreparable financial consequences.  It’s reasonable to assume that the triggering causes of depression may be financial conditions or disastrous events like death or divorce. Yet the true cause could be a series of episodes in our lives.   Dealing effectively with them may require professional help.  Depression cannot be left unattended, believing that you will “get over it”.  More and more people are stepping forth to ask for help because they realize dealing with life’s circumstances on their own is too difficult.


Seek And You Will Find

When we recognize our disheartening circumstances, we can effectively put action steps into place to turn them into favorable ones. There is hope because there is help. Dealing with our circumstances restores our ability to control them. Rather than feeling helpless, we can see options leading to our recovery.  I know because I have been there.     

Knowing that help is only a phone call away can bring “relief” to a person’s stressful circumstances.  The Farm Stress Line is available if you want to speak to a counsellor. Call 1.800.667.4442 or visit Mobile Crisis Services.


  1. Excellent post, Delores. Thanks for arranging the meeting with David so more farm advisors can be aware of the symptoms of depression and assist their clients to get the help they need.

    1. The farm advisors in attendance walked away with helpful information. The CAFA meeting was well attended.