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.
Jack is a retired father of two children from his current marriage and two from his first marriage. At age 28 he had a breakdown following a marital crisis and checked himself into a psychiatric hospital. The marriage ended in divorce and Jack travelled to the other side of Australia where he attempted suicide. Afterwards, he met his current wife, and has enjoyed a stable and happy family life, free of mental health problems.
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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Jack loved his job in the police force and found it very rewarding, but after being hospitalised, he was asked to resign.
Oh went down, it went down the hole. They actually finished up, they asked me to leave and you can’t blame them. I do not blame them. And the funniest thing about it, that’s the only job I ever wanted to do [laughs]. Yeah, yeah.
But it, it’s, I liked being in the police force. I found that I never had any trouble with drunks and drunks are the worst people to deal with. They really are, they can do anything can set them off. But I used to go and sit and talk to them. And they used to walk back with me to the watch house. Didn’t have to grab them, arrest them, nothing. You could lock them up for four hours and they’d sleep it off, go home. Cost them 10 bucks, you know, they. Nobody got hurt.
But there was, to me it was a rewarding job that you could do things and you could talk to people and you could help them. It wasn’t just about grabbing them and putting them in the slammer, it was about. Half the thing was prevention. Not like today. Today’s nothing about prevention, it’s only about reaction. Back then you were a proper copper.
Jack talked about his experiences of stigma related to depression.
Going back to the sixties, can you remember what you knew about depression or mental illness at the time?
Not a thing, not a thing. Except there was a stigma. That’s what I was talking about before, shame with older people. Ah, back then if anybody said you had a breakdown, oh, you were a mental case. You, you should be locked up.
But ah, it’s, the sixties, it was definitely - it was like getting pregnant, having a, a child, being a single mother. I can remember that my first wife had a friend who did this and she just braved right through it. And God, I admired her. And she brought up her child on her own, and any, without any help whatsoever. Oh, she one tough girl, really admired her. But the stigma of mental, mental disorder was worse than getting pregnant. I mean, my God, you’re, you’re, you’re mentally ill. And that stigma is like a big stain on your copybook, if you want to say.
Jack realised that no one could help him to get better and this was his own responsibility.
Recovery? Well this is to me, I don’t know that ah this would go for anybody else, but it means you get up off your bum and you move forward. It doesn’t matter which way you go, to the side, right, left or straight forward. But you get up and you move. If you don’t move, you die. I could honestly say I didn’t realise I had such a strength of character within myself at that stage. But obviously I must have because that’s how I did it. And I didn’t rely on anybody else, I did it all myself, as you’ve realised, I hadn’t gone and sought doctors, I hadn’t sought out specialists, or I haven’t picked out a friend to talk to, any of that sort of stuff.
I’ve just gone and done what my father and mother always told me, is do the right thing. Just go and do it. And that’s what I did.
Source: Experiences of depression and recovery in Australia, 70-79 Jack
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Last reviewed: September 2013