As a person who has experienced depression, there have been many mornings I’ve woken up dreading the day and wishing I could sleep forever. Even when I am well - which I have been for the past two years and for ten years before that - there have been a lot of mornings when I’ve had to drag myself out of bed. But my friend Stanley MacEachern, a former farmer who lives in Dartmouth, doesn’t have that kind of trouble. I want to know his secret.

...there have been a lot of mornings when I’ve had to drag myself out of bed

There was a time in the mid 1980’s when Stanley was depressed for six months straight, staying in bed all and only getting up at suppertime for a meal, then going back to bed. “That was a terrible time,” says Stanley.

Today, though, is a different story. Stanley keeps his place clean, cooks for himself and for his friends, and works hard. He maintains a positive outlook on life, and a young man’s openness to people and to learning. As long as I’ve known him, he’s been reaching for something instead of clinging to what he has, striving instead of settling. But all I really want to know is: how does he keep the feeling of wanting to get out of bed in the morning?

How does he keep the feeling of wanting to get out of bed in the morning?

“I feel refreshed when I get up. I feel like doing something,” he says. Since he was a child he has woken up early, with the dawn and the birds, and “bounced out of bed.” That might sound too good to be true, but Stanley says, “I love the morning, the peace and quiet, no traffic.” He uses the early morning as a time to reflect on what he hopes to do during the day.

Stanley starts his day with prayer, a cup of tea on his balcony, and a splash of cold water on his face and arms. He also exercises in the morning - push ups and arm exercises. He credits his friend Zac, who is also committed to healthy living, with giving him the motivation to work on his physical strength. Zac has also taught him to play chess, which Stanley feels is beneficial to his mind.

Stanley keeps busy, working a part-time job every weekday. He looks forward to the early morning bus ride, when he passes the time reading. At his job, he is appreciated for the work he does, keeping the property of a local business trash-free and tidy. He also has his own business, doing yard work and gardening and delivering flyers. As well, Stanley sits on several mental health-related committees.

Along with his commitment to improving himself physically, mentally and spiritually, Stanley is grateful for the people and opportunities that have enabled him to flourish. “If you wait long enough you get everything” Stanley says.

“If you wait long enough you get everything."

It is clear to me that his arms are always open to embrace the present and reach for the future, and strong enough to hold on to the things that make his life better and more meaningful.

Getting out of bed for Stanley means another chance to live as well as he knows how, to grow and flourish. ”I believe in, and help, myself and others,” he explains.

Who knew the key to getting out of bed every morning could be that simple? 

About Anna Quon

Anna is an accomplished freelance/creative writer and writing workshop facilitator. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  She is passionate about many things, especially writing. It is through her writing, and her volunteer work with community organizations, that Anna honours the lives of people who, like her, are living with mental illness. In 2008, Anna received the Inspiring Lives Award from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia. In 2009, Anna published her first novel titled Migration Songs which was short listed for the Dartmouth Book Award.

Visit Anna's website.