Michael Landsberg knows what it’s like to feel alone, helpless, and depressed. The former Ryerson student and current TSN personality has been struggling publicly with depression and anxiety for almost five years, and he says that some days are infinitely harder than others.
“Sometimes you just don’t want to get out of bed,” he says. “The idea of facing the day is torture. I’ve been there, I’ve lived that.”
Landsberg has been hosting TSN’s sports debate and interview show, Off The Record, for 17 years. Even now the host of Canada’s longest-running talk show says he has his good days and bad days. Despite this, he insists that he wouldn’t be where he is today if he wasn’t vocal about his ongoing battle with mental illness.
“The single most important thing to do is share,” he says. “If you don’t share, there is never help. You can’t ever do it on your own.”
Tuesday was Bell Let’s Talk Day, a day dedicated to being vocal about mental illness and raising awareness. Bell Let’s Talk is a wide-reaching, multi-year initiative designed to break the silence around mental illness and support mental health across Canada. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donated five cents to a Canadian mental health program for every text message sent, every phone call made, every #BellLetsTalk tweet, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image.
The amount of money given this year has yet to be calculated, but between its launch in 2010 and 2013, Bell donated over $62 million.
For the past three Let’s Talk Days, Landsberg has dedicated a show to the issue. He has dealt with the case of John Wood, a Canadian Olympian who committed suicide a year ago; brought on Clara Hughes, Canadian Olympic champion and spokesperson for the Bell initiative; and created a documentary entitled Darkness and Hope: Depression, Sports, and Me. This is all done with the hope that talking about his own story will encourage others to share theirs.
“Any chance that I get to talk about this issue, I will,” Landsberg says. “We can promote sharing by sharing our stories.” When asked about the one thing he wants everyone to know, Landsberg says, “If you’re out there learning about depression or mental illness and you’re thinking, ‘Wow, this is me,’ there is help for you, and there is hope for you. But the first thing you have to do is tell someone.”
This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on January 29, 2014.