Depression and bipolar are often misunderstood, sometimes even by those afflicted.
Unfortunately, misconceptions can be stumbling blocks to taking the action needed to overcome depression, which may prolong the illness and worsen its effects over time.
Just ask Tricia Goddard, well-known TV talk show host and mental health advocate.
Tricia shares her long and difficult relationship with mental health issues, a part of her and her family’s life for many years. But by working to understand depression and how she can influence and manage her own relationship with the illness, she built up the knowledge, resources and support she needs to cope when the black dog starts to rear its ugly head.
From Tricia’s own experiences shared in ‘Back From The Brink’, here’s five things you may not know about depression and bipolar disorder.
1 – Depression doesn’t discriminate
Tricia’s busy TV recording schedule means she has no time for depression.
Yet she can’t schedule time to deal with an episode in the diary; depression was a hallmark throughout hurtful relationships, a demanding yet fulfilling career and her battle against breast cancer, whether she liked it or not.
Same with you. Depression and bipolar don’t discriminate.
So it’s important to understand more about our mental health in order to manage it.
If we can know and recognise when things start to go wrong, we can take action quickly.
2 – Depression isn’t stereotypical
A popular perception of someone suffering from depression is that of a person unable to get out of bed and interact with the world, or is slumped in a corner and incapable of activity, convinced that there is no hope for them.
But Tricia cautions against stereotypical perceptions of how depression affects people. In her case, depression didn’t always drag her down. In fact, during one episode she was busier than ever before and never stood still.
By Tricia’s own admission, if she stopped, things got scary.
Those feeling or noticing the onset of depression may, in fact, try to distract by desperately staying active and busy, as Tricia did.
On its own, no slowdown in activity doesn’t automatically mean everything’s ok.
3 – You can influence your mental health
Tricia is an outdoor health fanatic, firmly believing that our society’s increasing insulation from nature in artificial surroundings is taking its toll on our collective mental health.
In fact, Tricia goes so far as to stay that we have a lot of influence over our ‘state’ of mental health, and can improve or maintain our state through the lifestyle choices we make, such as our diet and exercise.
While depression and anxiety shouldn’t be feared, if we’re tuned in to the needs of our minds and bodies, we can lead a healthy and active lifestyle that avoids us veering towards extreme mental states. To do this is surprisingly straightforward, and Back From The Brink covers strategies and tips on beneficial lifestyle changes.
4 – Relationships and work are crucial for good mental health
When Tricia endured bad marriages and family tragedies, she was much more susceptible to depression. But with a loving husband, fulfilling work and a passion for ‘active parenting’, Tricia stays grounded and has the love and support she needs during difficult times.
If we are surrounded by abusive partners, awkward relationships and significant anger and hostility, this immersion and constant exposure to conflict may be detrimental to our mental health and make us more susceptible to mental illnesses such as depression. At the very least, our ability to quickly find the people and support we need as we battle through depression is compromised.
Likewise, a high-pressure or unfulfilling job with unsupportive colleagues and managers is not beneficial if you’re already struggling to cope.
5 – There is no single ‘correct’ way to treat all types of depression
In Back From The Brink, you’ll learn about the importance and benefits of a ‘holistic’ treatment plan.
This doesn’t mean totally relying on a mystical-sounding New Age therapy. Instead, this very practical approach draws on physical, emotional and medical resources that lead to compassion, access to experts, revitalizing work and exercise.
Holistic treatment plans aren’t bulletproof. But they can help ensure that Tricia – and you – have the strength and resilience to better understand and manage depression and bipolar, with all bases covered for episode recovery and ongoing managment.
Graeme Cowan’s book Back From The Brink brings you true stories from well-known and everyday people, and practical help for overcoming depression and bipolar disorder. Touching, moving and often surprising, the stories in Back From The Brink are living proof that you too can overcome depression, using the tools and resources provided in the book.
Cowan survived the worst depression his psychiatrist had ever treated. Click here and find out more.