Courage on depression a service to others

Courage on depression a service to others


Courage. That’s what politician Celina Caesar-Chavannes had by going public about experiencing periods of depression – the kind of depression that would have her going to hospital to seek relief.

Across this planet an estimated 121 million people live with some form of depression, but fewer than one in four get adequate treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, depression is the fourth leading cause of disability. By 2020, it could become the second leading cause of disability.

Women are almost twice as likely to experience depression as men. However, at least one U.S. study found that depression is higher among older immigrant males from the Caribbean, relative to the general population.

Depression also affects people in high-income countries more than in lower-income countries.

Most people will experience deep sadness during particular life events which may extend into depression. Loss of a loved one, extended periods of unemployment and divorce are among the life events that can result in what can be called situational depression.

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Pat Watson is the author of the e-book, In Through a Coloured Lens. Twitter @patprose.


Black men must support each other – opinion column

Black men must support each other
This is a re-edited version  of the  opinion column that ran in the July 3 issue of Share newspaper


No sun will shine in my day today
The high yellow moon, won’t come out to play
I said darkness has covered my light, 
And has changed my day into night, 
Where is the love to be found 
 (Lyrics “Concrete Jungle” – Bob Marley)

We have just come through a winter that has a special place in the climate record books, and with all the kind of fun waiting ahead – like Toronto’s Carnival-style festival – most people are soaking in the comfortable, albeit brief, respite.

But, if you are among the more than one in 10 persons experiencing a mental illness, it may not matter all that much. It may surprise some to grasp that people who are overcome with the anguish of depression or schizophrenia, or any one of a number of other mind disorders, in their attempt to find relief are more likely to commit suicide during the period when the weather is more tolerable.
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Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young – E-book Excerpt

The following is another compelling excerpt from the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens

January 14, 2007

Some Who Fancy Themselves Tough Guys Don’t Die Young 

Guns have been in high schools for decades, another signal of the folly and recklessness along the way to adulthood and maturity. A stable home life ups the chances a teen will be better able to navigate those deceptively treacherous years. If not a stable home life, then a strong early foundation leaves a good chance to recover from the relatively risky teen years.

I remember José (not his real name), a rosy-cheeked boy of Spanish heritage who wore a puffy Afro and identified himself as Black. He went — for a while anyway — to my high school. José was growing up in a household of women – his mother and two older sisters – where he was the only male and had no male presence to emulate or to guide him. School gossip was that his father had died.

José was one of the guys who smoked substances that were not allowed in the smoking area just outside the school building. Later, his attendance at school became irregular. After that, he would visit the school although he was no longer a student there.

I remember the day José showed me his gun. Well, showed off was more like it. He handed me a small bag that was surprisingly heavy. When I saw what was inside, I immediately handed it back to him and asked what he was doing with such a thing.

I didn’t see José again for years, until we ran into each other by chance. The rosiness of his cheeks was all gone. The baby softness, which decades before seemed so incongruous with his tough man attitude, was also gone. Now he was muscular and wiry. Of below average height, he looked nevertheless like someone you wouldn’t want to test in a fight.

He said he was living in a nearby basement apartment and that he had recently returned from one of the States out west where he had served time for armed robbery. He said something about lawyers being some of the best people in the world, and especially sang the praises of his lawyer.  Apparently, he had been able to get José off with less jail time than might have been the case, given the charge.

José said he’d learned a lot in jail about how to be a better skilled criminal. What we are interested in we study. What we study we become good at. What we become good at we practice as a skill.

José would pop up in unexpected places at unexpected times over the years. The next time I saw him was about 15 years after his return from the West Coast jails. Then, he looked like a homeless person. When I said hello, he either didn’t recognize me or pretended not to. It was hard to tell. He said he didn’t know who I was. Mental illness was evident.

The last time I saw José was on a subway train. He looked much, much older than his years. His hair had turned mostly gray and his features had become hardened. Given the previous chance meeting years before, I wasn’t sure whether to say hello or not. I looked in his direction a few times, and as I prepared to get off the train he waved and said hello. He asked how I was. I said, “Fine.” I didn’t ask how he was.

Not every youth who wants to be the bad man is killed off before he reaches 25. Some, like José, live past their dangerous youth. Then they have the rest of their lives to contend with. José didn’t study academics or a trade; he studied crime. He had come from a fine family. That’s what the gossip was. But he didn’t look like a man who had come from a fine family.   He looked beaten and worn out by his life choices.

Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of the e-book In Through A Coloured Lens available at,,

Small insights to daily life

A note on the bellwethers of a society…

An old, Black woman begs for your small change at Bloor and Sherbourne. An old White man is literally on his knees with his hands in front of him begging for your small change at North York Centre. They are not inebriated or mentally ill. The elderly are emerging on the streets with their hands out. Imagine the day each made the decision to take that desperate step.

On a note of incongruity…

The very talented homeless duo, hoping for spare change in return, sang and entertained the ready-made audience in the subway car. They traveled the length of the car singing a pleasing harmony and, as they neared her, switched languages as an appeal to include her. But she wouldn’t pull her face out of reading her Bible long enough to spare the pair even a smile.

On a note of losing one’s self…

If reality has come down to whether it’s better to have someone looking beneath one’s clothing via a scanning machine rather than having one’s body touched all over by security personnel at airports then we are really failing to admit that the terrorists have already won.


Toronto writer and columnist Pat Watson is the author of In Through A Coloured Lens, available for Kindle, tablet or PC at