Health Care

Nightly news anchor shares struggle with COVID-related depression

WCAX co-anchor Christina Guessferd, Facebook photo

by Anne Donahue

Republished from Counterpoint

When Christina Guessferd takes to the air as co-anchor on the WCAX nightly news, she is the consummate professional: composed, articulate, relaxed.

That reflects a large part of how she sees herself. As her high school’s class valedictorian and someone who “strives for perfection,” she said she was “taught as a woman and as a professional that [one] can be branded as weak or sensitive or out-of-control” if feelings are exposed.

Guessferd knew the experience of being branded, because she was hospitalized several times in her high school and college years, diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety and living through wearing “the scarlet letter” as she walked through the hallways with her head down.

“I knew that everyone knew,” she said.

By 2018, with help from a course of dialectical behavioral therapy in college, Guessferd had pulled away from her symptoms and had entered the world of broadcast journalism, living her dream to be a writer and “tell people’s stories.”

Then COVID hit. Guessferd found herself reporting on how others were experiencing the pandemic but keeping her own challenges siloed away and wondering, “was I the only person to struggle?”

She found herself deeply depressed and unmotivated. She had “lost the love of my job.”

“Rock bottom is such a lonely place,” she reflected in her recent interview with Counterpoint. “At the end of the day, it’s you and yourself.”

Finally, one day, she walked into her boss’ office to say, “I can’t do this. I need help.”

She felt like a failure and was “terrified I was going to ruin my reputation.”

Instead, her supervisor offered her the potential of taking time off under the federal medical leave act, telling her it was “an option that you have a right to.”

That had never occurred to her.

“You think of a physical, debilitating condition” as the basis for a medical leave, Guessferd said, but that’s a misconception. 

The support from her work environment “was truly the cornerstone” for recovery. 

She kept doubting the validity of taking the time “for something that no one could see. You can feel a lot of shame. It’s misplaced shame.” 

It was her colleagues who told her, “You deserve it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

And it was the company’s Human Resources department that focused on “what their employee needed, and why.”

“What do you need from us?” they asked; “Take what you need.”

Going to her boss was “really hard,” she said. “It was scary.” She feared the response would be, “you’re fired.”

But Guessferd now reflects that “if that was how they handled it, I wouldn’t want to work here.”

She took 12 weeks off in all, six to “center myself” while on a waiting list for treatment, and then an intensive six-week course of DBT.

She was encouraged by her therapist, who told her, “What you need is more than what I can give,” and she recognized that she had “lost what I had gained” in the DBT skills she had learned in college.

“I was not exercising that muscle,” she said. She learned she needed to “give myself the grace to take a breather and not feel I failed.”

Did she feel labeled by taking that time, as she had in her school years?

“At first, I did,” Guessferd said. But then she decided to write a public tweet to share her experience.

She opened it by saying, “You may not have seen me on air” recently.

As a long-time mental health advocate, Guessferd said she recognized that “if I’m going to talk the talk, I’ve got to walk the walk.”

She believes in living with transparency, and if she expects others to ask for help, “I can do my part to let them know they are not the only one” by making her story public.

Just because “you view the world a little differently” shouldn’t be a basis for discrimination, she said.

One of her transformational moments was when she started the DBT and, as she “poured my heart out,” received the advice that she should reconsider her diagnosis. 

She looked at the list of symptoms for borderline personality disorder and found it resonated.

“I have never felt so seen,” she said. It was “a day and a moment that I’ll never forget” because recognizing a diagnosis takes its power away.

Rather than controlling her, she sees it as just one part of who she is. 

The “white noise” may still be in her brain, causing “shame – guilt – fear – doubt,” and while “you can’t silence those thoughts,” you can analyze their validity.

When her brain is leading her towards catastrophic symptoms, like “I’m blowing up my life,” she has learned to say, “I see you. Now go away.”

Guessferd said she has “learned to embrace and celebrate my mental illness and consider it my superpower,” because the so-called “negative traits” are also “part of what makes me, me.”

That is someone who is empathetic, compassionate, and fiercely loyal, with strong convictions, and who takes accountability for herself.

Her ongoing challenge is making the distinction between “who’s Christina the human being” and “who’s Christina the journalist,” telling the stories of other people without “losing my identity in the process.” 

She “doesn’t want to sacrifice professionalism” by bringing her personal feelings or her own strong personal convictions into stories; she needs to “navigate a career with the traits of myself that can be to my detriment.”

She fears that recognizing her “me” could influence her perspectives as a journalist, yet, “you can’t ignore what you are feeling.”

It was her boss who told her she didn’t need to make that sacrifice, she just needed to “respect every other opinion out there” as well.

Her told her, “I never want to stifle that creativity” that makes her so good at what she does, Guessferd said.

Guessferd believes that her journey also taught her employer “the urgency of every employee taking care of themself.” Putting oneself out publicly as a journalist makes one subject to criticism, so taking care of employees is crucial, she said.

It is a trend she sees starting in the larger society, as companies experiment with ideas on how to support their employees and begin to recognize that doing the best for one’s employees is also “doing what is best for the business.”

Guessferd said she has come to recognize that living with an illness is okay; it “makes you who you are” and “you can walk tall.”

Developing the tools to do so can be painful, because one must “dig deep into the place you didn’t want to go.”

Instead of putting bandaids on a wound, it requires “cleaning out the wound – that’s painful,” she said. She remembers “being so scared of how much it’s going to hurt.” But in pulling away the bandaid, she said she found herself.

It enables one “to be able to thrive as opposed to just surviving.”

“My job for my health is to make sure I have those tools” and to recognize that mental health requires that “you must carve out time to take care of yourself” and be able to communicate one’s needs to others. 

Guessferd said that she works on how to “balance the formula” between therapy, medication and taking that time needed for self-care. She said she’s “baking with [that] recipe every day.”

Mental health also requires having empathy for others and understanding that every person is carrying their own story. It means needing to see that “everyone’s doing the best they can.”

Classmates who were mean to her in high school and college days, calling her “crazy” and “psycho” were too young to “have that wisdom to understand.”

After one college episode in which she took off from the school and was picked up by ambulance to be taken to the hospital, the school conditioned her pending study abroad application on her taking DBT – which was highly positive for her.

But it also meant she was rejected by many friends who said, “I can’t deal with you anymore.”

In the future, “I would hope they would ask questions instead of judging.”

Only two classmates were willing to ignore her “rumored reputation” and “would not let that taint their view of me.” They helped change her life and they remain best friends.

Guessferd said her experience with discrimination shows it can frequently be subtle: a doctor dismissing concerns about medication side effects, or family members saying someone is spoiled. “It’s ingrained in us, that the pain of breaking a bone is more real.”

But she sees hope in the way society is talking more about mental health and with the help of science, the impact of mental health on physical health is being recognized.

Guessferd’s plea to others now is that if someone in their life is struggling, “Don’t just say you support them. Prove it.”

“Practice compassion, because if you practice judgment, it will escalate,” while compassion “will stay with you forever.”

Treat them “not with pity but as a human being,” she said. “You don’t have to talk with them about it,” Guessferd said. “Just be there.”

She likened it to holding one’s arms open and saying, “You don’t have to come in here, but you can if you like.”

The author is a member of the Vermont House of Representatives for Northfield/Berlin and news editor of Counterpoint, the publication of the Vermont Psychiatric Survivors.

Categories: Health Care, Media

16 replies »

  1. Considering she is a young person; odds are her afflictions are courtesy of big pharma. The number of inoculations and medications a young person ingests from birth is likely the cause of many afflictions these days. Customers for life – sponsored by Pfizer. Just count the number of advertisements for drugs broadcast during the nightly news – meet your assailants watching the tele-Lie-vision.

  2. This is nothing more than a political propagandist pandering to the pill pushers.
    As usual. Again.

    So, let me blaspheme by making an effort to promote TRUTH.

    Every prescription is required to be accompanied by a print out of it’s properties, it’s focus and how it will affect your body. If you read the printout from ANY psychiatric drug, it never states that there is a chemical imbalance that will be rectified by ingesting said pill . NEVER NEVER NEVER

    Be brave and go to any pharmacy and ask for the printout of any psychiatric drugs you may want, or to learn about. They MUST give it to you regardless of whether you are filling a script or not. The “chemical imbalance” mantra is made up. They do NOT say that. NONE NONE NONE
    Want to know why??? Because that would be a lie, and Big Brother as well as Big Pharma are not about to go down that rabbit hole when such a claim could be easily refuted. By doing so they would be sabotaging themselves. So they continue to lie, knowing full well that lie has been so well established there truly is no need for redundancy.

    Did you know that serotonin is produced in your STOMACH???? That any and all psychiatric “diagnoses” are made up? Truth. I actually learned that from one of Big Pharma’s top guys. He said that!

    What this young woman, spoken of in this article, needs to be told are the realities of life. NOT given pills to stifle who she is. As I told my children when they would whine that something wasn’t fair, my answer was “life isn’t fair”. So what.

    ALL of us, one way or another, were hurt by the Great Shamdemic. SHE never lost her job, ergo didn’t have to fear homelessness. She never went hungry b/c she never lost her job. Should I go on with this or are you getting the point?

    Some of us simply need to be heard; our fears and difficulties and fears and confusion and fears…is there someone out there reading this getting the point? I am not here to invalidate this young woman’s experience of and reaction to the Great Plandemic. We were ALL lied to, misled, bamboozled, and with everything coming to light there’s gonna be more and more of us just collapsing to our knees in horror. More importantly: we all need each other now like never before. Perspective is tantamount to unity. How can that happen if one does not truly feel; if one cannot think clearly?

    The push for the drugging of America HAS GOT TO STOP. It’s nothing more than yet another tool to Divide and Conquer.

    VERMONT: Had enough yet?

    • Absolutely! Ever notice at the end of those big pharma drug ads, they roll off the side effects at a rapid-fire pace? Ever catch the term “fatal crises?” The real term is death or may cause “suicidal thoughts.” They also use cartoon characters and costume characters like Flemy, the whimsical furry flu germ, aimed directly at children. The death merchants count their profits as humanity and society collapses all by design.

  3. Sorry anyone who works for WCAX is not a news anchor they are just mouth pieces for the communists who run this state.

  4. Maybe she found it hard to lie to people of every day of the week with a smile on her face. State sponsored media is not news.

  5. I am appalled reading the comments here!! They are disrespectful to Christina, as well as the author of the article, Anne Donahue. I suggest that at least some of you re-read the article and attempt to comprehend the REAL message here. For those of you that don’t know Anne Donahue, she is ready and willing to not only share her own personal story, but spend a great part of her life dedicated to supporting programs for mental illness(es). I have a lot more on my mind, but will stop here.

    • While I do believe that the comments are insensitive towards the person in the article , I think the commenters are just reading between the lines, and expressing their frustration with the state sponsored media and their mouthpieces, as well as the state run medical system in this country. Both of which are implicated in this article.

    • I mean no disrespect. I mean people need to take the blinders off and stop pretending the populace is not being poisoned on purpose for profit. I noticed years ago, children and teenagers suffering from depression and anxiety. How can such an affliction strike so many youths in a short span of time? Add on top of that obesity, malnutrition, autism, etc. etc. Afflictions, mental or physical, in young people was sparse decades ago, not the norm as it is now. Perhaps adults need to put down the “smart” phones and live in reality for a change. Society is collapsing by design. If the lies and deception continue with impunity, expect many more deaths, many more incidents of inexplicable, bizarre behaviors, and chaotic, dangerous events.

    • Oh, I see. If you do not pat this woman on the back, it is a crime, a slight. Give me a break, some of us can see thru the puff piece about the positives of big pharma kill pills. I feel sorry for the woman and any who take those drugs. Just about every “mental health ” worker will say how good the pills are . Notice THEY are not on them. I personally have seen the zombification of many, especially women, so they will just shut up and stop complaining. Sorry you don’t like it but talking about your problems to GOD , friends, and family will not make you sterile, suicidal or Fat (which makes you more depressed) or sexually numb or any one of hundreds of problems those pills and psycho training do. Let me guess next they will suggest ECT. We know how much fun that is. All to get you to SHUT UP , STOP COMPLAINING! What about the people that are homeless because they will not comply with the state edict to TAKE those pills. No one is talking about that either. On a similar note how much of this was caused by the shots they made her get , you know the now known bioweapon. Yes, I am talking about the big pharma killer covid shot.

  6. The irony of WCAX news anchor saying:

    “Just because “you view the world a little differently” shouldn’t be a basis for discrimination”

    Should not be lost on us.

  7. I wonder why this particular article was chosen to be published on the VDC site? What kind of comments did he expect?

    Psychiatric illness isn’t something you “just suck up and get over”.

    Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

  8. All the shaming of comments here overlook the last three years of demonizing by social media and fake news of those who early on recognized the scamdemic being perpetrated on the world.
    For those willing to bypass all the government-directed censors and “fact checkers”, the NWO agenda was and still is out there for all to find. Event 201, sponsored and promoted by Johns Hopkins, big pharma, billionaires, international corporations (Black Rock) and their bought politicians was their propaganda training framework.
    Orchestrating a pandemic and their tyrannical responses (that had no basis in medical science), was high on their list of tools, as is their fake climate crisis. It is sad and shameful how so many sheeple fell for the fear mongering and haven’t followed the money. The rather sudden increase in mental illness diagnoses is simply another logical outcome and convenient avenue for big pharma to further peddle their poison.

    • @GRANDMADDER: Thank you for your obviously well researched comment.
      MY comment IS all about yet another scam to cripple the masses, one citizen at a time. God Bless!!!!