When Nicholas Pegg, a twenty-five-year-old from Rondeau, Ontario, was first diagnosed with clinical depression, the only thing he could see or feel was darkness. Hope appeared to simply be an illusion, an aspiration to imagine. But now, years later, Pegg has not only found hope, but is an active advocate of it.
Pegg's individual hope began with his camera. He thought if he could transform the way he viewed the world, maybe his sadness could transform too.
Soon Pegg discovered a passion. He decided he wanted to spread the hope he had found to other people experiencing depression or pain. How he would do this, he later realized, was through social media. He literally had the world at his fingertips.
Tweet from Nick Pegg on January 30th, 2017:
People don't do things for attention. People do things for reasons scarred into their hearts, only trying to be set free from the captivity.
Pegg, now a communicator of hope, shares part of his story below.
"I thought that I was only worth as much as a punching bag to people around me," Pegg said. "And I started to believe that about myself. I started to believe that I was only worth so much — only worth abuse, and only worth enough that people wanted to take out their anger and frustration on me…. I adapted that as my worldview.”
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode. This can be extremely difficult on them, but also on their families and the people who make up the world around them.
"My girlfriend, Sarah, is the most patient and amazing person ever in my life because she’s put up with this sort of darkness," Pegg said. "When I look at relationships I look at this sort of longterm, sad, drawn out effort that I have to put into this other person. And it’s so easy to fall into this trap of saying ‘That’s not worth it. I don’t want to do it. I’d rather just leave this relationship.’”
Sarah Roessner, the girlfriend Pegg talks highly of, said that loving someone with depression feels as though the person they love is having an affair with their darkness. "In the absolute most honest sense, it is hard not to feel resentful towards that person, because it feels like they are choosing depression, even though they are not. When you see that person at their peaks and valleys you can truly see they are not choosing depression. They are trying to run from something that suffocates them."
Pegg and Roessner have created Hashtag Hope as a catalyst for a brighter worldview. As it tends to be with authenticity, hope is not always shiny and beautiful.
"As humans we want to fix people, their problems, their emotions, their darkness, but the harsh truth is we can't. People are not meant to be fixed, they are meant to be loved," Roessner said.
“I almost wanted to experience the things that I had already experienced, like say, going to certain places or whatever," Pegg said. "I wanted to experience those things again in this new perspective that I was now learning to train myself to see life as.”
No matter what, Pegg and Roessner believe there is hope. "Loving someone with depression is not a period," Roessner said. "It is a journey of understanding how to love well and consistently."