Louise is the full time manager of a community mental health organisation. She was diagnosed with depression when she was hospitalised after an injury. She has benefited from yoga, professional help and involvement with a peer support group and antidepressant medication.
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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Louise described how her counsellor motivated her to take a more active role in getting better from depression.
It’s a – I think it’s a bit like when you take your car to a mechanic. I mean, I can change my tyres. I can – I really can do that. But, it’s easier if I go to a professional and get them to do it, because they can do it faster and quicker and they’re aware of things that I might not be aware of and I sort of see it along those type of lines and it wasn’t as though when I have depression that I don’t – I don’t think to myself I’m just going to give up on it all and – every day, you know, I think it’s a new day and start again, start afresh.
But it gets to a point where it’s just not working anymore. So you go to a specialist in an area and if it’s – I know that my keeping physically active is good and I actually really don’t like physical activity, like exercise. But it’s good for you, so I do it. so yeah I go to a gym and, and, and I’m with people and, and I’m going to the doctor that, that’s the medication part of it and going to see a professional person. They know how to ask questions that can delve deeper into things of why you might have a certain line of thinking and how you can change that, ‘cause it really all has to do with your thinking.
Louise felt ‘self-absorbed’ during some phases of her depression and not able to benefit from the support available to her.
I think because, you know, we, we're all connected to other people in some fashion and even when we have depression and mental illness, we tend to isolate there are still people connected to us and sort of caring and sort of loving us.
But we don't sort of really see that ‘cause we're so self-absorbed, we just can't see out of the, the black hole.
Certainly - and even recently, my parents had quite worried about me and certainly with my work colleagues, not so much here at (organisation name), because they're understanding, but my previous workplaces. Even though they were understanding it puts pressure on them - yeah, it affects all of your relationships and some people are more understanding and some people aren't. yeah it just, it just affects all of your relationships.
Louise saw recovery as being about developing a new self.
Recovery. I think it's not to get back to how you were before, because that was your old self and you want to be developing your new self, because life is about changes and if you try to hang onto all those old things, you are going to find it really, really difficult.
You want to be learning new ways of thinking and doing things and that's what I see recovery as. I don't see it as a permanent thing, ‘I've now recovered and I'll never have another bout of depression again’. It's like saying I'll never break my ankle again. I might break my ankle again.
You've got to mature and it’s through adversity that you do mature and that they say it's easy to steer a ship in calm waters. It's when you get into those choppy seas you see the real character of a person. so yeah, having, having depression and the things that are associated with it and working through them and - and being open. I’m quite open to lots of things and a lot of people aren't.
Louise summarised the benefits of group physical activities.
It can be, yes. I did take up yoga, I forgot to mention, and I found that enormously helpful and I still do it. That was really helpful and also another thing I'd - I've changed with the help of the (organisation name) program. One of the principles is to keep contact with friendly minds.
Well, I find if I'm on my own, sometimes my thoughts and my imagination can start getting away with me again. So when I was at the gym and I was doing my program in the gym, although people were around me, in my head thoughts were still going. So a change I made there was to get into a class. So I've been doing Pump for about nine or 10 years now and I have to follow the instructions there of the instructor and - so that keeps my mind focused on the one thing.
Source: Experiences of depression and recovery in Australia, 40-49 Louise
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Last reviewed: September 2013