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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You haven't seen the light til you've seen the dark ....

Today I was sitting in the hairdressers reading a magazine - about the only time I get to sit and read anything!

I happened accross an article written by a New Zealander during one of her bouts of severe depression. Her story was amazing - so well written - expressive - heartfelt - and I have to say took me back to my darkest moments of post natal depression. I was sitting there tears - lump in my throat - experiencing it all again with her. It's been a few years for me and time makes you forget to a certain extent the intensity of the feelings you had. Her story took me right back but also made me appreciate the fact that for me it is a distant memory.

Having post natal depression changed my life and beleive it or not it was all for the better. Mind you at the time I certainly didn't feel that way. I had no idea that my life would turn out so well or that I would ever feel this happy with life.

However, I know for a lot of people suffering from depression that they don't have the luxury of it becoming a distant memory - this is something that they struggle with their whole lives. I was lucky - I only had it for a short time after my children were born - but that was enough to give me a new found understanding and insight into what so many people go through. It still saddens me that 1 in 4 New Zealanders suffer from depression at some time in their life.

Having depression yourself is just as difficult as living with someone who has depression - I've been on both sides. You can feel helpless, frustrated and even resentful and angry. You offer them love and support - yet nothing seems to make a difference. You try to give them hope but telling someone that theres light at the end of the tunnel - things will get better means nothing to them in their darkest moment - they cannot see it and nothing you can do will change it.
Today, really reinforced the decision the NZ Art Guild made to support the Mental Health Foundation this year. The one thing I wished I had been able to do when I had post natal depression was to Reach Out - to be able to tell people without fear of judgement - stigma etc - to ask for help - to get support.

The Mental Health Foundation of NZ have done a brilliant job in recent years in breaking down barriers and encouraging people to be open and talk about it - to reach out - and for others to be there for them. They rely mostly on donations so please - next time you have a few dollars to spare - think of them.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2008 is promoting these themes -

• It’s in your hands: make good mental health a priority in your life
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. Margaret Mead

• Reach out: make connections and increase understanding
“All knowledge should be translated into action.” Albert Einstein

• Put your hand up: Be an advocate for positive change and social inclusion
“The passionate are the only advocates who always persuade. The simplest man with passion will be more persuasive than the most eloquent without.” RenĂ© Descartes


Kay said...

Life-line is a wonderful service for those who can't (for whatever reason) reach out to people they know. They too deserve our support. Often the people who do the most are those who "say" the least, those who are less visible but quietly save lives and give hope to those who need it.

Good luck with the exhibition.

Sophia Elise said...

Hi Kay, Yes totally agree with you Lifeline and the Samaritans are both great services which are funded by donations - I know people that have used them to help them get through some really bad times. I know for me one of the best supports was a post natal depression support group - it was the only one of its kind in Auckland - not funded - manned by volunteers - and unfortunatley not well publicised either - and it folded a few years ago :-(