Anyone who has been around me or my business Facebook page for any fair length of time will tell you that I have another great passion besides creating – mental health.
To understand why you need to understand my own personal story (I’m about to be raw and honest so prepare yourself!).
For as long as I can remember I have been a glass-half-empty kind of person, a state of mind that was not helped by difficulties with friendships at school, a little bullying and the immense pressure I put on myself to achieve at school. Still, I sailed along with just a bit of teenage ‘moodiness’, graduated Year 12 and embarked on a wonderful romance with the man I would marry just 3 years later in 2006.
In May 2007 my life changed. It sounds so cliched but it’s true. I began to lose motivation to do simple everyday tasks. Tidying the dining table seemed like a monumental job that required more effort and energy than I had. I trundled on, putting on a ‘face’ when out in public and always answering “I’m fine, thanks” when asked how I was. One morning over breakfast the thought of having to get up and brush my teeth was too much and I broke down. Discussions with my amazing and caring boss prompted me to seek help as she thought I might have depression. I first went to the beyondblue website and took the little questionnaire to assess the likelihood of having depression (to do it yourself go here). It gave words to what I was feeling and with a resounding positive result I made an appointment with my doctor.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression just before my 22nd birthday.
I tried all the natural therapies out there for depression, along with starting counselling with a psychologist. With still no improvement I decided to try antidepressants. With these, the fog started to lift and I began to make progress in my therapy sessions.
Apart from a 2 month stint that resulted in horrible thoughts circling in my head I have remained on antidepressants and I don’t see myself ever going without them. I don’t see this as ‘giving in’ or as a ‘crutch’ or as an ‘addiction’ – they are a medication to correct a chemical imbalance in my brain. Would you pass these same labels on to someone who takes insulin for diabetes? No. For many, antidepressants are necessary to help the body work the way it is supposed to.
Today, I am well. I still have down days but they are far outnumbered by my good days. I have had two children and have been thankful every day that I have not relapsed into post-natal depression (the chances of which are greater due to my history). I am also aware of how my thought patterns affect how I feel and (most times) can recognise when I am slipping back into that dark hole.
Recently I also held a charity auction on my Cordelle Facebook page to raise funds for beyondblue as they were a source of invaluable information during my depression. I am so proud to say that we raised over $1000 for beyondblue!
So, this brings me to Mental Health Week, an initiative to encourage everyone to talk about depression and anxiety. Today is also World Mental Health Day – and this is why I have chosen today to share this with you all. I believe talking about mental health, and especially sharing your own experiences as I have done here, is SO important in helping to remove the stigma associated with having a mental illness. Talk with your friends, family and colleagues about it. Keep those channels of communication open.