ADA Month

October is Beyond Blue's Anxiety and Depression Awareness Month, this week (although it's nearly over) is National Mental Health Week and TODAY is World Mental Health Day.

I never thought this would be something I'd need to advertise, because mental health was never on my radar... until being diagnosed with depression last year. Even then I was able to continue in denial for quite some time because it was 'mild to moderate' depression, which meant counselling alone was an appropriate treatment. Things got worse earlier this year and I spent a number of months being unable to cook or clean or do many things that I enjoy. And I do mean physically unable - there is just no way I could force myself to do things, even if I wanted to. I have a vivid memory of wanting to do some painting (which means I was having a relatively good day), getting out some of my painting gear and then realising I would have to fill my water container, and then refill it when the water got dirty. It sounds ridiculous but that one thing made the whole task impossibly overwhelming for me. Often it is just one thing that blocks us.

I didn't realise at the time that I was seeing a counsellor who wasn't helping me (ie, she was actually making things worse... I know several people who've stopped seeing her for similar reasons as me) so I kept perservering with it without seeing my doctor again. Part of it was that I didn't want to admit I was worse because I'd been seeing a counsellor for nearly a year. I was supposed to be better! Eventually a dear friend took me out to lunch and firmly told me I HAD to see my doctor. Unfortunately the anti-depressant my doctor prescribed caused a reaction so bad I had to call an ambulance in the middle of the night, but that doesn't mean I was wrong to see her, nor that the prescription was wrong. It really was just one of those freak things, and despite the outcome I should have gone to my doctor a long time before I did. I ended up changing counsellors and that made a huge difference. I started to feel a lot better several weeks after I started seeing her, so much so that I didn't need to try another anti-depressant - but I acknowledge that's certainly not the norm. Even for me it wasn't overnight.

Now that I'm feeling so much better I'm realising that I was actually mildly depressed for a long time, - probably three or four years - and I'd just developed coping mechanisms. Eventually the coping mechanisms no longer worked for me and so I slid into a deeper depression. I think that if I'd been more aware of depression... if depression didn't still have a stigma... then I would have sought help a lot earlier. And this is why I'm now keen to support Beyond Blue and similar organisations, and why I'm keen to get the word out about depression and mental health.


Joce said...

Thank you for your honesty Femina, I can totally identify with this post. I've had my own problems (one of my featured entries explains it pretty well) and know all about coping mechanisms, denial and inadequate counselling. Finding the right help is SO important. I'm fortunate in that I've never HAD to be medicated, but I've still experienced some very dark and frightening times. I remember bargaining with myself on the pros and cons of sleeping, as in do I take a pill tonight, sleep well, but have vivid dreams tomorrow, or do I have mildly vivid dreams and broken sleep for two nights? Its not a fun place! And for anyone living in Melbourne, The Station Street Fiesta is on in Fairfield on Sunday... maybe I'll see you there! <><

Hippomanic Jen said...

It's hard to comment on this. I can recognise in myself tendencies to depression (and likely mania), but not bad enough to interfere with daily life (and not for long periods).

Of course, it sounds silly to say, particularly when I did a Mental Health First Aid course and I think every one of us in the room could recognise some symptoms of each of the categories we studied.

Megan from Imaginif said...

FANTASTIC post painting a very normal picture of depression affecting normal people. Thank you so very much for posting this.
Depression affects one in is something that needs to be talked about, supported and destigmatised. You have done all three in a single now I will have to marry you when I grow up :)

I am going to green thumb up stumble this post so expect to see a stat increase.

femina said...

Cool... I've always wanted a husband named Megan... :D

I'm glad my post was helpful. It's disappointing that depression still needs to be destigmatised, particularly the milder forms. One of the reasons I didn't think I had depression was because I hadn't had a complete breakdown like many of my friends who'd had depression. Thinking that depression is only depression when it's severe meant that I spent far too long thinking I could just 'snap out of it'.

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