49 years old
My diagnosis of depression came unexpectedly to me. After all, I was holding down a fulltime job while caring for my two young children as a single mum. I ensured they made it to school every day and attended their myriad of extra-curricular activities. It was early 1992 and my whole world was about to come crashing down around me.
I had no idea my colleagues and supervisor had concerns about my mental health. Once again, I was holding down my job, not taking sick leave etc., When my supervisor first mentioned her concerns to me I was really unsure about what she was implying. Yet, before I knew it, she had taken me to the local private psychiatric hospital, and I was admitted ! I was given the diagnosis of depression, and started on medication.
I spent approximately ten months in that hospital, and have little memory of the time. I know I was tried on lots of different meds, and I was given several courses of ECT. I felt very alone, and very ashamed. I didn’t know it then, but I was to feel that way for a long time to come.
Ten years later I was still not back at work, and living on a Centrelink allowance while raising my two children. I knew more about depression, and I felt the loneliness and despair many depression sufferers experience.
My diagnosis was major depression and PTSD, but apart from medication, no-one seemed interested in helping me obtain any sort of therapy to help me work through my feelings. I was pretty much left to my own devices.
One night, while searching the internet for information on depression, I came across a site called depressioNet. You had to register to use the site, and being new to the web, I was more than a little nervous. But, I took that huge step and signed up ~ and I never looked back !
I didn’t know what to expect when I registered. I certainly didn’t expect to see what I did. There were real people on this website who all suffered from depression or a related illness, and they were all supporting each other through posts and in chat rooms. You could feel the warmth of the place as soon as you logged in.
Here were people who knew depression because they too, lived it. I was no longer alone.
It didn’t take long for me to fit in and become a dNetter (or dNutter as we fondly called each other). I became something of a serial poster ~ both offering help, and at times, asking for it.
My faceless friends never made me feel inadequate. They welcomed me, they let me ‘talk’, they let me be me. I was no longer alone with my pain because these people understood it and knew how to help. This new sense of belonging was wonderful. Even better was the improved sense of self-worth I felt through helping others. Maybe I was a worthwhile person after all.
depressioNet went through some changes when it became ‘depressionservices’ for a while there. It lost the sense of warmth and belonging, and I stopped visiting. I just didn’t belong any more.
So it was with much anticipation I rejoined when I heard depressioNet, dNet ~ People Like Us, had been reincarnated and was again being run by ‘People Like Us’. Sure enough, the warmth and sense of belonging is back…..and so am I!
17 October, 2011