RU OK? Making depression an everyday topic

Less than two-year’s ago I was diagnosed with severe depression. Numerous factors contributed, not least the impact of the GFC on the business I was then running; two major, concurrent sicknesses in my closest family; and trying to be superwoman, combining motherhood with a business in recession.

Looking back, it was a blessing. I gave myself to the end of that financial year to turn the business around and if I didn’t have the passion to do that, then I’d look elsewhere for employment. My first lesson in depression: reframing. Shutting the doors on a business that I’d run profitably every year for ten years was not a ‘failure’. It was the opportunity to do something more. And the opportunity arose – a new (red) door opened.

Lesson Two: positive thinking can sometimes be a negative. I have stomped the self-development trail over the last fifteen years. I’ve cuddled my inner child, aligned my chakras, reframed my language, read ‘The Secret’ and learnt a lot about the self-development industry and myself. So before I received my depression diagnosis, I spent a lot of time blaming myself for the lack of business turn around. After all, I was ‘putting it out there’ that I wanted to manifest profitable new clients (as well as actually doing the work: pitching, marketing, networking etc), why wasn’t it flowing back? The reality: my brain chemistry was so out of whack I could have been Anthony Robbins and nothing would have changed.  It’s hard to manifest anything positive in your life when your serotonin is through the floor. Depression isn’t simply a case of  ‘pulling yourself together’ – our bodies are a delicate mix of hormones.

Lesson Three: ask for help.  Each person’s depression is different. My catalyst came via poor blood results that were at worse, Leukaemia. When the most feeling I could generate at potentially not seeing my children grow up was ‘Oh well’ I had enough insight left to realise this wasn’t a healthy reaction.  I personally wasn’t a fan of anti-depressants because I wanted to fix why my brain chemistry was off in the first place. Combining my GP’s advice with a qualified naturopath who worked with me to achieve serotonin lifts through diet, exercise and complimentary therapies including Vitamin D supplements I came good.

Lesson Four: It’s OK to talk about it. I admire the RU OK initiative for raising awareness. Would I have said ‘No’ to anyone who asked me two years ago? Probably not. But what I’ve learnt sharing my own personal experience is that people are surprised and empowered. “You?” people ask incredulously. One colleague said I was like superwoman, she couldn’t believe I would ever have been depressed. However, she added that if I could suffer, recover and admit it, depression was less shaming to her.

And that’s the point. Sharing your ‘weaknesses’ make people feel better about their own. So ask someone if they’re OK today. It might make all the difference.

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