Being diagnosed with depression can be both emotionally and practically challenging. Listening to others who have experienced similar situations is often re-assuring and can be helpful for you, your loved ones or when preparing questions for your doctor or a specialist.
Andrew is widowed and lives alone. He has struggled with chronic physical health problems and depression for most of his life but his 13 years of marriage were a happier period. He was diagnosed with depression after his wife’s sudden death from a heart attack. He has found mental health peer support group to be very helpful, together with antidepressant medication and regular visits to his doctor.
This interview has been sourced from Healthtalk Australia. Healthtalk Australia is the Australian collaborator of healthtalk.org (UK) which conducts award-winning research into patient experiences in conjunction with the Health Experience Research Group at the University of Oxford, UK.
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Andrew said when experiencing depression after his wife’s death, he felt despair and helplessness, and a need for someone to care about him.
Ah yeah I’d say despair would be one of them. Ah a fear of what was going to happen to me from now ah because if I didn’t have someone to support me. It was like I was back when I was a kid and I was wanting somebody to just pick me up and, and look after me. And give me that sense of assurity that everything was going to be all right. And oh I just - helplessness. Ah I don’t, I don’t believe I was fearful of - I just think, I just, just trying to, trying to think.
Just the hopelessness of the situation that - and it might have been self-driven from my own needs. Ah yeah, desperation.
Andrew was diagnosed with depression in adulthood, but believes fighting a chronic physical illness from childhood gave him a pessimistic mindset.
We left [place name] at when I was 14. We come up to [place name] with the family ‘cause both my sister and myself had to go onto dialysis. Yeah that was a harrowing experience.
Ah I think I grew up, grew up in the state of mind, sorry not grew up, but had that state of mind every time you went into hospital was this going to be it? Was I going to die? Because when you went in there it was like Russian roulette. Three people passed away on the machine. And my perception now is and what I’ve learnt is that as a child and you’re in that formative years yeah it can seem like that. So I was 16, I was offered a kidney transplant, my sister also had one six months before me. So my sister and I have very similar lives. Ah, we’re the best of friends. I’m always there to support her cause she’s worse off than me. That’s my perception.
That was the first time I was actually diagnosed with depression and that was the first time I was introduced to antidepressants. There is, sorry there was mentioned that there is a very good possibility that I, from an early age, was on that gradual decline to depression.
Andrew felt that, in order to get better, people have to look within themselves.
While I don’t like giving advice cause yeah I think change has to, change has to come about from ourselves. And there’s a piece of program in the book, in the (name of book), called responsibility. I have, in the past, never taken responsibility for me and my life. So one - change comes about, from my point of view, from taking the responsibility of what one needs to do in order to change one life, one’s life. If you want to change your drug dependency, your alcohol dependency, what - the dependency on your mother, whatever, you can only enact that by the gaining of knowledge.
Getting help from if I can term it, not just from the medical fraternity but from people who seem wiser than you are. And understanding that change doesn’t happen overnight, it happens within time. Maybe not your time, but it happens gradually.
Source: Experiences of depression and recovery in Australia, 50-59 Andrew
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Last reviewed: September 2013