Just an 'average Joe' with depression

Last updated 07:00 07/12/2013

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I have depression, and that's okay Depression 'affects everyone'

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Who am I? I am not an athlete, a star or a hero

I am not a nobody, but rather a someone, a mere mortal with a normal job, an everyday life, a family.

And I have depression. I have seen all of life's trials and tribulations go past me.

Like many families, we have witnessed the suffering caused from a multitude of ailments and diseases. But all that time the one subject that was always around us but never recognised or talked about was depression.

In the media, we see all kinds of stories and people's confessions of what it is like living with the black dog, and of late it is all the sports stars.

I believe that having these amazing athletes come forth and bring to the fore the taboo subjects that no one wants or likes to talk about and to have actual role models that people can relate is truly inspiring.

However it is just as important to understand that the average Joe or Jane can also suffer without the stresses of playing for one's country.

I'm not about to bring down those household names as they are genuine and also go through the pains that we all go through.

The one thing we all have in common is the black dog that invades every aspect of our lives, some more severe than others.

For me, the fear, anxiety and lack of self worth or belief can cripple. It leaves me empty and feeling like nothing can pull me out.

Anxiety is my daily battle. At times the mere ringing of the telephone will freeze me, but if I get over that hurdle then the rest of the day should be a breeze.

I can lead a full and exciting life for the majority of the time until the stresses of everyday life start to pile up on top of each other and I forget to open the release valve.

It has put my job at risk at times, however I am thankful for having a very supportive employer who ensures their staff are maintaining their health and wellbeing.

I come from a normal family, spent holidays with relatives and did all the usual 'Kiwi' things growing up.

Extended family members have passed on from various ailments throughout my 40-odd years and this has undoubtedly had an impact on my psyche but it has also placed me well for determining whether to let depression control me or for me to control it.

I have had two breakdowns in the last six years, the most recent being early this year.

While they were fairly minor on the scale of things, I was unable to work for two weeks and then had a gradual return back to full employment as I got it under control.

I would like to think that I am on the lower end of the scale (if there is one) for depression, but I can understand how some people can become so overwhelmed that they feel there is no way out.

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The thing is, you need to put everything into perspective; don't be afraid to admit that you need help and then seek that help out.

We all need to be more open with these things as we cannot always apply the good old number 8 wire on everything and use the "she'll be right" approach.

In my non-scientific impression, depression and suicide are closely associated and need to be recognised as such. Identify the cause and symptoms of depression early and the chances of someone becoming a statistic are greatly reduced.

Suicide is simply not an answer for me. I value my life, my wife, my kids and family far too much. They are my rock and keep me on the right path without even trying.

It may help that I have seen the outcome of teen suicide after an extended family member decided many years ago that he simply could not go on without his parents who had passed away earlier.

My tips on happiness?

Live life and don't let anyone or anything bring you down.

You are the maker of your destiny; you and only you can control your emotions and feelings.

Accept that you cannot control anyone else's feelings, emotions or behaviours nor can you change them, so accept them as they are.

Surround yourself with happy people, like a smile, it's contagious.

Seek help. If not to identify the root cause then to give you the tools to work with what you have and to identify the triggers within.

The biggest fear that we need to overcome is the fear of talking about our feelings, the fear of being seen as weak or vulnerable. Once we can overcome this, we will learn that we can tackle anything that comes in our way.

The black dog is tied up and we are free to roam.

The lessons I have learned in my experience may not help everyone, although I have been able to put them to good use in helping others where I have seen a need.

Talking to someone is the first and easiest thing one can do to get depression under control.

Be yourself. Too often we portray to be someone we expect others to want us to be.

Finally, be happy!

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