President, Blue Canoe Philanthropy
Living with CPTSD, anxiety, and depression

After being diagnosed with depression, Leah realized that she had been experiencing symptoms for years before. Now, she is a successful business owner with a network of great friends, and she encourages others to seek help as soon as they feel they need it. Through sharing her story, she is determined to “speak out for those who can’t speak for themselves”.

Leah’s Story

How has your condition impacted your life?

I was first diagnosed with depression in my early 20s, though I know I lived with it for many years before then. I’d approached my family doctor when I was younger, and she dismissed my concerns and symptoms. It took another five years for me to get up the courage to approach another doctor, who took my concerns seriously.

My condition has impacted every aspect of my life, but it took turning 50 for me to say to myself, ‘hey, let’s tackle this beast.’ I’d been on anti-depressants for more than 25 years, and my gut told me there were other things that needed to be tackled.

I tried therapy and distinctly remember the day when my therapist said, “you clearly have cPTSD.” I think that was the moment that was most difficult for me: reflecting back and remembering all the things that contributed to that diagnosis, then making the difficult decisions around what I was going to do about it.

What is your life like now?

I’m much more self-aware these last few years. Once I knew my diagnosis, I realized that I was in a professional and personal place that wasn’t conducive to healing. I made some big decisions and am incredibly happy with where I’ve ended up. I’m now much more in control of my life and can shape it in a way that I live well with my condition.

Who in your life or what specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?    

When I decided to seek therapy, I chose someone based on a friend’s recommendation. It turns out that therapist specialized in trauma. It had never occurred to me that I’d had trauma in my life until he pointed it out. It was a life-changing moment.

For me wellness includes advocating for myself, asking for help when I need it, and speaking openly about living with a mental health condition.

What do you do to manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis?

For me, the keys to staying healthy are exercise, sleep and putting self-care above all else. I’m no good to my family if I’m not well. It took me a long time to realize that.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

Don’t wait as long as I did to start digging into your condition. If you feel unsettled, unhealthy and unusual, talk to someone about it.