So how does a 34-year-old male, who is shy, depressed, and suicidal, begin to address his pessimistic views on life?
It has only been four months since I was discharged from a twelve-day voluntary stay in the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney.
If I had not walked into the emergency department of the hospital and asked for help almost two weeks earlier I am sure that the thoughts of suicide would have rapidly returned.
The doctors and nurses started listening to my worries within minutes of me presenting to hospital. And not one of those who were involved in my care judged me for my illness.
Looking back on my decision to ask for help, I now realize reaching rock bottom was not a precarious position to be in. My life to date had not taken me to where I envisaged all my hard work would; however, in stepping back from suicide and seeking assistance I acknowledge my life journey can now start again.
On leaving the hospital I was warned that the treatment for major depression was not going to be a quick journey, or one of linear direction. I am currently about to try new medication and I have experienced a relapse or two.
I do not profess to know all the answers for battling the stigma associated with mental illness, I can only provide my opinion based on what I have experienced. I have endured the pain of major depression to the point where my thoughts and actions became uncontrollable. The attempt on my life was brought about by a series of judgments coordinated by an irrational mind. My downward spiral brought me so close to death, so quickly, that I still find it extremely difficult to recall let alone talk about.
Yes, I have some character flaws and I had no work / life balance; however, I learned something while experience this horrifying downward spiral—the only thing that saved me from death was asking for help.
What I Have Learnt
1) Anyone can ask for help at any time, and no-one will judge your decision to seek answers to your concerns. Speak to your GP, your parents, your siblings, your friends, neighbours, or anyone who you feel most comfortable talking to. I want to make this very clear – I have a tremendously shy character and have never asking anyone for help with anything, but I managed to voluntarily admit myself into hospital to seek treatment. If I can ask for help anyone can.
2) Understanding Your Character – I have begun to learn what my risk factors are and how my character can influence my susceptibility to a potential mental illness. Following my diagnosis of major depression, I undertook some research and came across invaluable information from The Blackdog Institute. This should be a must read for everyone:
3) Knowing the symptoms – This is critical for everyone to understand what they should lookout for, both for themselves and for those around them.
4) There is always time to make changes in your life.
I can now admit I was a master at hiding my anxiety and depression. After reading the symptoms of depression, I realized I had experienced all of them—I just did not volunteer the information to anyone. What was as equally concerning was that I did not know I had depression.
We can talk openly about sports injuries, having the flu, or even some of the major health battles like cancer. If we have a headache, are feeling stressed, or have a pain in the stomach, all of which are not necessarily visible, we still can volunteer these painful experiences to others. However, those experiencing depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies are less likely to offer details of this illness to family and friends.
Something magical starting to occur when I began to open-up to family and friends about my battle, each person reciprocated my story with one or two similar stories of their own. I quickly realized my attention needed to be placed on the advocacy for those who have experience a mental illness to tell their story – so I wrote a book about my journey http://voluntaryadmission.com