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.
Ruth runs her own travel company after retiring from a career as an executive assistant. She first experienced depression in her early 30s. She has successfully lived through her depression experience for a number of years with the help of regular counselling, exercise, medication and travel.
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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Ruth identified being single and feeling pressure to marry and have a family as contributing to her depression. She also believed depression ran through her family.
But things, you know, in my personal life were always difficult because I was now in my, my mid-30s. Everyone around me was getting married, having kids. I wasn't and I struggle with it; and I guess my family struggle with it.
And it was always the case when you go out to functions, you know, oh when are you getting married? When are you settling down? The whole bit. And that wasn't me; and it's still not me. So there was a lot of pressure. Even though I did - I was handling my, my depression, I was handling my condition, there was still the pressure from the - my surrounds. And I found it very hard to cope with that. 'Cause I'm one of these people who just does what they're told, to a certain extent.
You know, I'd been brought up in a Jewish environment, Jewish home, family are very, very big. It's a very big part of my life. So it's always, it's always part of, you know, the next step. You've got to find someone, you've got to settle down, you've got to have kids. And that wasn't the way my life panned out.
I actually think depression runs in the family and I think I've actually got it on both sides of the family. My dad actually had a couple of breakdowns. He was a very nervous, anxious man. He actually had a couple of nervous breakdowns. And my Mum - again, I could say to her, Mum, you're suffering from depression. But my Mum's 76; she won't do anything about it because it's that generation.
And it's a case of they think that if something in their environment changes, it'll be better. Well, it doesn’t - it's a case of almost, sometimes, where you can, you can never please them because they are so depressed. Even the nicest things will even - they'll see it in - it's glass half full, glass half empty; and hers has always been glass half empty. So, you know, it… I know my Mum suffers from depression, and I think - I believe also it's a bit - it is a generic condition.
Ruth talked about being happy to continue taking antidepressants as they made her feel ‘herself’.
So the medication doesn’t worry me. I'm more than happy to take it because when I'm on the medication it is who I am. It brings out – I- I've got - I guess they call it a chemical imbalance. And for me, the medication levels that; so medication has helped me.
I'm been very lucky that the medication that I've been on from day one hasn't given me any side effects; has just, just been great.
And when you're on the right medication, when you're on the right therapy, you're on the right track. And it makes such a difference to your life. When you're depressed you are not who you are; and that's what used to upset me because I am pretty outgoing, and when I'm depressed that's not who I am. Who I am is when I'm on my medication, when I'm properly treated, when I'm talking about it, when I'm not talking about, when I'm just getting on with life and...
Yeah. Look, I'd, I'd be happy to come off it, and I'd probably, you know, talk to my psychiatrist about coming off it. And, you know, she's always said to me you can, you can certainly level it back, you know, take smaller, a smaller dosage and then gradually come off it, if that's what you want to do. But we haven’t discussed it, probably, in the last six months. I think the last time I discussed it was about six months ago, and she, she wasn't keen for me to come off it. She just couldn't understand why. If it's working why do you want to, you know, - and like I said, that's probably a good thing because had I not been on it now, with what's been happening, I think I would have struggled.
Once Ruth let her employer know about her depression, they were very supportive.
I, you know, I remember having bouts of depression while I was working, and, you know, saying to my boss I just need time out. Take the time out. Do what you have to do. Again, I think I'm very lucky. I think I'm very lucky because I know that's not the norm, you know.
I heard of a story recently of someone who told her, her employer and they took it pretty badly. Oh, yeah, I talk about myself being blessed because of the people in my life that have sort of said well, Ruth, you know, we just want you to be happy. That's what life's all about, and if you - you know, so when I told my friends, when I told my family, when I told my employer, they were supportive because they wanted me, they wanted me to get better . You know?
Source: Experiences of depression and recovery in Australia, 40-49 Ruth
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Last reviewed: September 2013