Travis McCrea: Resigning as Pirate Party of Canada leader to deal with depression
I have depression.
Oh no, cat’s out of the bag! It might cost me a percentage point in some future election. The truth is that, while I want to serve the public, I am a human. I have human qualities but also human flaws, and my illness affects the way I feel and prevents me from enjoying life as much as I would like to.
I am not contagious, and what I have is treatable. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80 percent of people; they can then get back to their regular activities. For me, that means getting back on the horse, uncovering corruption within politics, and trying my damndest to get elected and represent Canadians with every fibre of my being.
Exactly 10 months ago today, my friend and civil liberties activist Aaron Swartz took his own life. While the circumstances around it were great, and it would be difficult for any person to have such an abusive government breathing down their neck—coupled with his depression he was not able to go on. Here in Canada, over 4,000 people die every year because they were not able to get the help they needed.
I am not going to let something that is basically no different than a broken leg stop me. It would be silly for me to wish a broken leg away, just as it would be silly for me to wish away my depression. That’s why I am getting the treatment that I need so I can enjoy my life, because it’s a really awesome life to enjoy.
What Canada needs is a shift in the way it views issues like depression. We view them as weakness, or as something to be ashamed of. I am not ashamed of who I am, and you shouldn’t be ashamed either. We all have flaws, we all have issues, and we should be proud that we are unique and, if they negatively affect our lives, then do what we need to do to fix it.
In the Pirate Party, we realize that we are just normal people; most of us don’t have a law degrees nor do we have a public relations team. When we make mistakes, we have to own up to them, and when there is something up, instead of keeping it in the shadows we would prefer to have it out in the open.
This is why today I stepped down from my role as party leader and candidate in the upcoming Toronto Centre by-election. I need to take some time and take care of myself, get the help that I need. I want to thank my friends and family who have been very supportive of me.
If you are feeling depressed, if you have a prolonged “lazy” feeling, or just don’t feel “right”, go to the doctor. Go talk to someone, talk to your friends. You would have your friends sign your cast; this is just one more experience that you get to share with them.