Friday, February 1, 2013

I am grateful for my bout of depression - guest blog

In September last year I made a new friend. We have trained together every other day since then. We attempt to be witty to pass the time and to ignore the exercises we don’t really like. We laugh a lot. We support each other in our desire to be physically healthier, counting calories and urging each other to train more. Last week I asked him if he would like to do something for my gratefulness blog on any topic he wanted. 

Yesterday he emailed me what you will read below. It made me cry because I know my friend to be a beautiful man who makes me smile, and his companionship and support is one of the main reasons I go to the gym as much as possible. I don’t think he knows how much joy he has brought into my life, and the lives of others. I cried also because I knew nothing of what he has been through. Today I am grateful for his honesty, because most of us have people in our lives who are suffering from depression, and yet we aren’t aware of it.

I am grateful that he has also written about how his bout of depression encouraged him to change things in his life for the better. And in response, I am grateful because his bout of depression brought him into my life too, through the gym.

Please read his words, and share them with those you know will value them, just as I did.

I am grateful for my bout of depression.

Now don’t get wrong when I was sick, it was the worst time of my life and I would never wish the experience on anyone, now that I am on the long road to recovery I can see some positives. I am grateful that depression (by cliché’s) has encouraged me;

  1. To start “working to live, not living to work” - Realising life is for living not working;
    1. When you start to put your career a little lower on the priority list, life is worth living that much more, see the following points.
    2. Without the self-imposed stress and unrealistic expectation I am actually able to do a better job, I can now focus on what is really important and not try to do everything.
  2. To “Stop to smell the roses” - I can find joy and satisfaction in the small things,
    1. Things that used to be a chore are now enjoyable because I find joy in them. E.g. walking the dogs is not a chore; it is time with my partner, my pets, nature, the community and some incidental exercise.
    2. Socialising is not something to avoid, when I live in the moment and not the past or in the office I realise spending time with friends and strangers is awesome.
  3. To realise “There is good in everyone” – If I take time to listen
    1. I no longer focus on the bad in people
    2. I have stopped trying to change everyone by making them see my point of view; I can just listen to a differing point of view and accept it as an opinion and not a point of argument.
    3. If you chat to anyone long enough you can always find something to like; even the biggest redneck bigot can have a love for their kids or compassion for the unexpected.
  4. To “Take care of number one” – I am worth taking care of.
    1. I am now investing in me, through exercise, eating well, meditation and taking time out to do what I enjoy, I feel much better about myself.
  5. To “Never take anyone for granted” – Relationships need to be nurtured.
    1. I thought I suffered in silence for a long time, but really everyone around me suffered along with me, through my actions and words.
    2. My amazing partner who suffered the most and who probably too far into my illness became my only confidant, stood by me even though I was not the best person to be around.
    3. I now realise I need to spend time with loved ones if I am to keep them, hiding in my cave being miserable does not help anyone especially me.
    4. I am trying to repay everyone close to me for their patience, they may not have known I was sick but they knew I was not myself, I was moody, augmentative, always negative.

I also appreciate the following people and organisations;

  1. Dr Shane Christianson of for identifying my illness, putting together a treatment regime that really worked and his continued support through follow ups.
  2. Psychologist Peter Walker of for his treatment and long term strategies.
  3. Lifeline; just for being there, please support this amazing organisation.
  4. Black Dog Ride for giving me something to look forward to, I will do the Ride to the Red Centre soon.
  5. Rory, Tarsha and the rest of the team at Rx Prescriptive Training for the incredible workouts and change to my self-esteem.
    1. I need to recognise all the fellow gym members, including Dr Anita Heiss for their comradeship and motivation during the workouts.

Most of all I appreciate my life and everyone in it, especially my amazing partner, my friends (new and old) and my family.


Carly Findlay said...

What great perspective your friend has. Best of luck.

I feel this way about my Ichthyosis - it's afforded me so many opportunities and taught me strength, resilience and not to worry about the small stuff.

Unknown said...

So true. I wouldn't wish depression on anyone or want to relive any of it, but my own experience with it - both the suffering and recovery - has shaped who I am, and how I think about life, myself and the world around me. Strangely - and it's a horrible motivation - it can force you to put more thought and effort into your own happiness and peace of mind than you otherwise might have.

Ruby said...

I have had my own battles with depression and I concur. I also wish more people would talk so openly about depression.

It is a horrible disease and whilst I would rather not have anyone suffer it, I am grateful for all it has taught me about myself. I feel that I am more self aware than most people and that this awareness has come because of my depression.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Anita.

Melpomene Selemidis said...

What a wonderful, enlightening post. Thank you for sharing and wishing him peace.

Debbish said...

I can relate to some of this and thank your friend for sharing both his pain and learnings.


Dr Anita Heiss said...

Thank you for all your comments. I have passed them onto my friend. He is really pleased that his experience and words can perhaps help other people.

Thank you also from me, for sharing your thoughts and experiences here also.

I think talking and sharing is an important step in all of us understanding better the health issues within out society.

Much peace,

Anonymous said...

You have change your point of view. Let me tell you, I have tried a lot to do the same and sometimes I succeed and sometime I failed. While trying to change my view point, the original view point surfaces and always put me in trouble. I am trying, still trying. Yes, success ratio is increasing but very slowly.

Unknown said...

After reading, I realized a lot of people I know, including myself, to be bordering the opposite of almost everything your friend was able to grasp from his bout of depression. First, it is nearly impossible for some to put their career a little lower on the priority list. It’s like asking them to slow down in the middle of a race. And I believe it would take a whole lot of courage to accept how things would turn out if they do so. I’m glad he was able to calm his soul and come out from the darkness he’d been in! -->Russell