Two Evenings in Blue


Depression has a number of assumptions made about it--

“Depression is just a fancy way of saying you’re lazy.”

“Depression isn’t really a big deal.”

“Depression is easy to get over. Just get out of bed and you’ll be fine.”

To anyone who’s been depressed or watched a loved one suffer from this particular brain illness, the widely popularized assumptions above only further keep these individuals in isolation. Assumptions are just that: assumptions, not the truth. Those familiar with the illness know depression is much more complex, challenging, and isolating than the world around us believes.

Many who’ve immigrated to Vienna encounter depression on a variety of levels, from mild to severe, from high-functioning to debilitating. Locals, too, are not immune, and I can’t help but wonder if symptoms may be exacerbated by the Viennese tendency to close up and keep to themselves. On the whole, many who deal with depression encounter feelings of guilt and shame partnered with a fear of opening up to anyone from close friends and family to counselors and psychologists.

The first step toward getting help, or even realizing something may be off, is usually the hardest, which is why it’s been our goal to make that first step as easy as possible by making information accessible to all. Through an informative setting, team member, Macarena, led a group of 20 participants through a presentation titled Blue Is Not Your Color. Macarena shared parts of her story, gave helpful tips, invited dialogue from the participants, and provided guidance concerning next steps for anyone who may be struggling with depression.

The following week, a much smaller group made up of participants from the Blue is Not Your Color presentation joined Macarena and me for an in-depth review and time of sharing personal experiences with depression. The time flew by as our little group grew more and more comfortable with vulnerability and connecting on deeply compassionate levels.

We’ll continue this same routine - an important presentation topic followed by a small group discussion on lessons learned. Because sometimes, most of the time, we need to talk about what’s going on in our heads and in our hearts.


About the Author

Holly Kooi is co-founder of U!Shine Vienna and lives in Vienna with her husband and two kids. She is a certified Character Mentor, and her heart is with the refugees and those on the fringes of society. She's passionate about loving people well, writing, mental health, and good coffee. To connect with Holly, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram.