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Let’s Talk

It has been five Let’s Talk Days since my dad died by suicide.

For people just learning about Bell Let’s Talk Day, that means my dad has been gone for five years.

Below is the first of many blogs I have written about his death. It is the first post I wrote really addressing my own mental health.

It has been five years since I joined the conversation about mental health. So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same. I will keep talking. I hope you will, too.

With Kane at 11 months.
My dad with my son, Kane.

20         The number of days since my dad, a 58 year old cardiologist, went missing.

17          The number of days that have passed since my dad’s car was found.

16          The number of days that have passed since my dad was found.

10          The number of days that have passed since we celebrated my dad’s life.

Dad’s favourite view at Cowichan Lake.

Tomorrow, January 28th 2015, is Bell’s annual Let’s Talk Day. You’ve probably seen or heard some of the commercials that have been running recently. The one that really hit home has two guys at work talking about another colleague who has anxiety.

Below is an excerpt from the speech I gave at my dad’s memorial. I’m starting a conversation about mental health.

“I know we’re all feeling guilty. I’m sorry I didn’t call my dad more. I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time with my dad. I’m sorry I didn’t say I love you more. I’m sorry I lied about my friend jumping on the hood of our 4Runner in high school.

But most of all I’m sorry we weren’t able to prevent this. The cause of Dad’s death is inconclusive. But what we do know is that he was having trouble handling work-related stress, which resulted in anxiety and depression.

We also know that Dad had so much he was looking forward to in life, and so many people he wanted to spend time with, that whatever happened it was not the way a healthy mind would handle the difficulties he was facing.

Here’s where I get on my soapbox. I started to think about things that are in my control. Things I can do. Be kind, be an attentive listener, be a shoulder to cry on, offer what I can… Maybe you’re thinking of someone right now that you still have the opportunity to support through some form of mental illness.

Yeah, I said it. Mental illness.

Mental wellness.
Mental health.
Call it what you want…we need to talk about it.

We, as a family, even talked about whether to address this, and decided that if we don’t start talking about it, who will? Our family has heard many stories over the years, and even more in the last few days, from Dad’s patients, nurses and colleagues about how compassionate and dedicated he was to helping others. This is where we can carry on what he was doing. Be there for someone else.

The greatest loss I’m feeling right now involves Kane and Maverick. I’m sorry my dad didn’t get to spend more time with his grandkids. He adored Kane and never got to meet Maverick.” 

Bell is partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association as well as Kids Help Phone. This year’s campaign focuses on five simple ways we can all help end the stigma around mental illness:

  • Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness
  • Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs
  • Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot
  • Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen
  • Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence
Grandad Dennis with Kane at 8 days old.
Grandad Dennis with Kane at 8 days old.

My dad didn’t want to burden friends and colleagues by asking for support. My dad didn’t know about or wasn’t using the resources that were available to him. My dad thought he could fix his anxiety and depression with medication alone. He couldn’t.

Hope for tomorrow
Life goes on…hopefully speaking up helps to make someone else’s experience easier to cope with.

Five years ago, I asked for help.

Five years ago, I also asked for for recommendations for therapists.

Five years ago, I asked people to share my blog, because I wanted to make anxiety, depression, and mental health in general something we talk about rather than hide.

Five years ago, I joined the conversation about mental health. So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same. I will keep talking. I hope you will, too.

One way you can start talking about mental health is by sharing this blog post. Another way is to check in with a friend or family member who is a caregiver. Please start talking whether it is with a therapist or a friend. Everyone needs support with their mental health.

Kristy Wolfe Photography Speaker
Sharing our story at the Grace in Grief Conference Edmonton May 2019

Five years ago, my dad didn’t want to burden friends and colleagues by asking for support. My dad didn’t know about or wasn’t using the resources that were available to him. My dad thought he could fix his anxiety and depression with medication alone.

He couldn’t.

Photo credit: Slice of Love Photography

Five years later, I am continuing to talk about mental health and I still have a therapist. A lot happens in five years. I have learned that the tricky stuff can open your eyes to just how strong and resilient you actually are.

Published by Kristy Wolfe Stories

Kristy is an engaging, open, and honest Common Language DST trained digital storytelling facilitator. She has been speaking and teaching workshops on both photography & digital storytelling for 5 years. With a background in the education, healthcare, and non-profit sectors, she works with diverse audiences, prioritizing ethics in storytelling and storyteller wellbeing.

180 thoughts on “Let’s Talk

  1. I am so sorry. I know no words can take away the pain, but you are in my thoughts and prayers. I am sending you warm hugs.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Death leaves such a big gap in our lives. I pray you will have someone to listen to you and be of true comfort. Maureen

  3. I live in Victoria and was so upset for your family when your Dad was found. I’m so very sorry it ended this way. What a profound loss. I’m sure it was difficult for him and all of you over the holidays..Christmas often seems to trigger a deeper depression. I lost my own father a few years back and it is a tough loss for any daughter close to her dad. t I know loss and grief too well, having also lost my 14 year old son suddenly many years ago, and have written extensively about the long journey through a variety of emotions, including denial, anger, guilt, extreme sorrow and extended sadness. I got stuck in my grief and it affected every area of my life…until enough time past and my heart filled up again by getting outside of my head and my own problems and helping others. I dealt with many of those feelings I had through art and journalling as well as reading almost every book I could on loss, trying to find meaning in it. Sometimes there are just no answers and all the ‘if only’s’ in the world don’t help at all. Recently retired I have time now to mentor others through their own journey of understanding, if you ever need to chat in person or online. I’m in Oak Bay but if you don’t find someone in Edmonton to connect with right away, please get in touch. I’m a good listener and that’s just what you need because there is no quick fix for the shock of an untimely death. Bless your Dad and the peace he has found in his passing…

  4. So sorry for loosing your precious Dad – my 4 kids lost their Dad also & I really think this is a valuable read – you are one brave daughter & that’s what your Dad would want you to be – helping others I am sure. Depression (mental illness) very often is overlooked and dealt w/meds but what good is this if nobody cares!! from now a widow (left w/3 girls & 1 son & he never did meet any grandchildren but they all “know of him” keep him in our conversations a lot!! You are doing a real SERVICE to us all! Thanks for sharing!! Take care!

  5. Thank you for sharing. There is a comfort in battling with friends even those I may never meet.
    My dad took his own life too. He was
    found hanging from a tree in a park.
    He was losing a diabetic battle and a second amputation was imminent in his life. But I think he was really losing his battle of depression of losing his best friend and wife, my mom suddenly and unexpectedly a decade earlier. I was 17. I’m 51 now and I don’t think I’ve ever been truly happy since that day.
    I have plenty to be thankful for, but it’s not the same.
    Thank you for letting me write here.
    I sometimes just need to talk about it too.

  6. Your dad was my late husband’s cardiologist too and kept him going, despite all odds, for 18 years, dealing with a difficult patient with patience, humour and compassion! My deepest sympathy goes out to you and yours. Your sad but heartwarming story might not only help others left behind deal with their loss, but also those suffering from depression to reach out and talk; talk about their illness and not hide it in shame or plain concern for others. The “black dog” is a demanding master to deal with and our society does not really want to face the fact that it is a problem. Medications alone are not enough, acknowledgement of the reality of the illness and a stop to its stigmatization is vital, in the true meaning of that word’s roots.

    In deepest sympathy with my best wishes to you and yours,
    Anita Kladia Robertsdottir-Lewis
    (a former neighbour on Bedford Road)
    PS: Could you, please, forward this message to your mother, I cannot easily find her address. My thoughts have been with her since I heard the news.

  7. I worked with your Dad for many years and knew him to be joyful, compassionate and respectful. He spoke of his family lovingly. I am so sorry for his pain and yours. Thank you for reminding us of something we should have already known….that we each need to be accountable to our family, our friends and our society. I hope your Dad is at peace and that you can find yours as well…..

  8. Kristy, I feel for your loss and I am so sorry. But as you have noted, taking and listening can prevent this tragic event. I myself have survived self destruction because my brother reached out and saved me. Truly, stress will precipitate anxiety as well as depression. Before you know it, life seems hopeless and you feel guilty about your drain on society. I just didn’t care about living! Fortunately, my friends not colleagues talked to me and listened to me.
    Now, I listen and pay close attention to a persons speech, manners and activities.

    It breaks my heart to hear about your father, Dr. Dennis Morgan.

    We need to be aware of mental health interventions. Tackling the stigmata and the personal humiliation can be done by ” Lets Talk” !

    I am all for it, Kristy.

    Dr. John

  9. I want to thank you. I read your blog in January three days before my parents returned home early from a long trip. My mother explained my father’s anxiety was out of control. A quick chat with him revealed it was much, much worse and I flew home immediately. Over the next chaotic, frustrating, terrifying week, we discovered he was severely depressed with psychotic features. I want you to know that it was your words I thought of when I called mental health outreach. It was your words in my mind when my mom and I took him to emergency. It was your words that made us refuse to leave without seeing psychiatry, and it was your words that – two weeks ago when he was admitted to hospital against his will for suicidal ideation and forced to have ECT – gave me the sanity-saving peace of mind that he is in the best place to stay safe and to get well. Our road here on out is by no means clear or smooth. But my family gets to navigate that road in tact, together. And for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



      DR. JOHN


  10. I work in the Department of Heart Health, and although I never met your Dad, I remember saying hello in the hallways. Your piece is simply inspiring. Today, I’m going to start talking about mental health, and the obstacles and set-backs I’ve faced because I’m dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress in the workplace.

  11. I love that picture of Dennis holding Kane at 8 days old!! There is so…much love there!! ❤ One of the awesome memories you have captured with your talent! Thinking of you and the family! Miss him all he time! Love Gail

    1. I read through your information and then I remember! My thoughts and prayers to Kristy. Grief therapy with good psychologist. My recommendation!

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