Imperfection Inspiration: Vaughn’s Story

Imperfection 1A couple of weeks ago I appeared on TV. My seven-year-old assured me that it was “no big deal” to be on TV and that his friends are on TV “all the time.” As you can see my family hasn’t let my newfound “celebrity” go to my head. In truth I have no desire for such things as fame, fortune or to appear on a reality show. Ok so that was a lie, who wouldn’t want to be on Canada’s top model/chef/dime-store-counter-lady? It would be an honour. But I digress.

After my first blog post went up a few weeks ago I got a text from Paul asking if I was free to talk on the phone. Now we never talk on the phone, we always communicate by text so my immediate thought was “who died?” I know – I’m optimistic like that. When he got me on the phone he said someone from Global News had seen my blog post and wanted to do a piece on me. Shortly after I got a call from reporter Su-Ling Goh who asked if she could interview me about my story, particularly how I had used exercise to alleviate my depression.

I don’t usually seek to be in the spotlight especially when it comes to talking about struggling with depression. I had no intention of becoming the poster child for mental illness or mental health as it were. In the past I have been very circumspect about who I told and for many years no one outside my immediate family and close circle of friends knew that I suffered from depression. The thought about going on TV was scary; the thought about going on TV to talk about my depression was downright terrifying. But I took a deep breath and agreed to do it in hope that I could help someone else.

My first reason for my coming out of the mental health closet so to speak was so that others could learn from my experience and know that they too could do things that they might have thought impossible. The second was to let people know that exercise isn’t just good for your body but also good for your mind, and is one of the most important factors in your mental health. The third reason was to remove the stigma about mental illness so people know that it is something regular people suffer from and allow other people to come forward with their stories.

And you know what it WORKED. The best part of having my fifteen minutes of fame was hearing from so many people, people who shared their own struggles, who could relate to the challenges I faced and people who were motivated to make changes in their own lives big and small. One of the best comments I received was, “I think your story is amazing as well as inspirational. I have been struggling a lot with depression over the past year and a half and sort of in a spiral of smoking and gaining weight and feeling gross. I am going to try to use your inspiring story to motivate myself to at least start somewhere.”

imperfection 2Many people used the word inspiring which frankly at first I found off putting. Inspiring is an Oprah word, a word that should be reserved for people who do great things. In my mind for someone to be inspiring they have to be near perfect and I am far from perfect. As I was doing all these blog posts I was having trouble getting motivated running and all I could think was that I’m not inspiring, I am a fraud. In fact I kind of went into a tailspin and didn’t want to workout at all. Fortunately my darling husband teased me saying, “Wasn’t there a woman on TV recently, didn’t she say something about how good exercise was for preventing and treating depression?”  As I said before, my family keeps me grounded.

Slowly I have begun to realize that you don’t have to be perfect to inspire people and that perhaps it is people who stumble and fall and get up again that are inspiring because they are more believable and often more likeable because we can relate to them. And in relating to them they give us courage to fight our own battles whatever they may be. Each person who makes changes in their lives inspires others and thus the circle of influence keeps expanding. And it all started from one little blog post.  Give it a try. I’ve seen it work.

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