Tammy Bortoletto knows a lot about defeating depression.
She has lived with it for the past 20 years. And that’s why she will be volunteering at the third Annual Defeat Depression Walk on Sunday, May 24 at Ostler Park.
Bortoletto first experienced depression when she was in her 30’s as a result of being in a bad marriage. She has also suffered physical health problems since she was a young child. In more recent years, neurological issues resulted in the loss of use of her right hand, and the loss of work, leading to depression as well.
Throughout her life, Bortoletto has been admitted to the psychiatric ward at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Comox several times, and she has also attempted suicide a few times.
It took a long time for Bortoletto to seek out help for her depression because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, past negative experiences with physicians, and her family’s attitude. Friends often dismissed her depression, saying things like ‘let’s go out and get your mind off it.’
“I thought I had to deal with it myself, it was the way I was raised, you deal with things on your own,” she said. “Because of all the sickness I had growing up, Mom would say “You’re tough, you can handle it!’”
Now Bortoletto has advice to share with others.
“Seek out professional help, don’t take as long as I did,” she said. “There’s such a thing as being too stubborn. “
But she noted doing activities that make you feel good also helps, whether it’s going for a walk, talking with a friend, swimming or singing karaoke, some of her personal favourites. Bortoletto also enjoys volunteering and helping others.
“I like working with people in general, it brings my spirits up,” she said. “Sometimes you have to force yourself to do things to make yourself well. Doctors can only do so much, eventually you have to help yourself.”
Bortoletto has a clinician at Campbell River Mental Health and Substance Use, has a doctor she likes and has been a member of the Campbell River Beacon Club for 12 years.
“My recovery has a lot to do with the club,” she said. “When I come here, people understand. Talking with staff, telling jokes, interacting with people, helps me get out of my depression. It’s a place to come to feel safe, no one is judging you.”
At the clubhouse you can find her making others laugh, giving hugs and volunteering. And on May 24 you will find her helping with the Defeat Depression Walk.
Everyone is welcome to participate, including families and pets. Businesses and organizations wishing to sponsor the event or donate a prize can contact Robyn Ellsworth at 250-286-8828 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration is at 9:30 a.m. and the four kilometre walk begins at 11 a.m. Participants can walk/run/cycle four km to Sequoia Park and back to Ostler Park. Refreshments will be served after the event at the longhouse. To register, donate or purchase merchandise go to mdsc.akaraisin.com/CampbellRiverDD2015