I know this seems like a weird topic to insert into the middle of my series of Virtual Advent Calendar posts, but here it is anyway. I promise this won’t be a morbid or depressing post! Stay with me if you start to wonder where this post is going – it does come together.
During August, I participated in a Web 2.0 technologies project called #1pic1thoughtinAugust. The idea was that all those participating uploaded a picture a day to the flickr group, perhaps with a short comment, perhaps not. It was microblogging at its best and I think all who participated in the project got a lot more out of it than just learning more about the features of flickr.
One of the images I posted towards the end of the project was a wordle, generated using words from the home page of beyondblue. Until I posted this picture, I had had a few comments on some of the images I had posted – but as there were more than 600 images uploaded to the group over the course of the month, everyone’s comments (including my own) were of necessity spread fairly thinly.
I struck a chord with this picture and I suppose, with the description I added to the image:
Another wordle, this one taken from Beyond Blue’s page on how to help yourself. I’m currently saying goodbye to my anti-depressants after about 5 years together. It’s been good, but it’s over.
It’s not, never has been and never will be a secret that I have suffered from depression or taken medication for it. I have always taken the view that it’s an illness that needs to be talked about more openly in the community and I’m wrapped that the dominant word in this wordle is ‘information’!!
This image had 88 views and generated 15 comments within the space of about 3 days, mostly from other people in the group talking about their own experience with depression, or providing encouragement and support to the rest of us. It was amazing. One of the comments came from someone I subsequently met IRL at the ALIA conference in September and when we met, we just hugged and held each other. The power of community.
So, depression is there people. It’s real, it probably affects someone you know and love and you may not know. Back in October, the team from R U OK ran a campaign in which they asked ordinary people to ask those around them “R U OK today?”. The campaign included blanket coverage on social media as well as TV commercials such as the one below where celebrities encouraged us to participate:
Beyondblue provide some must-read information on depression and the Christmas build up. The central message is:
Over the holiday season, LOOK for the signs and symptoms of depression. LISTEN to what your friends and family members are saying about how they feel and if necessary, TALK about seeking help together.
… and they include a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate this potentially very tricky subject. Go read it now, I’ll wait for you to come back….
I’ve always enjoyed Christmas – possibly because here in Australia it co-incides with the summer holidays, the long break, the cricket and the opportunity to eat prawns regardless of the cost per kilo (although I am a staunch opponent of the commercialisation and expectations surrounding the whole thing). I’ve certainly had my share of stresses and strains surrounding the season and this is my first Christmas in more than 5 years without the support of my wonder drugs. My children take turns to spend Christmas Day with either me or their father – this year they are with their dad. They come to me on Boxing Day and we’ll have our Christmas meal and celebration then. For me, realising that Christmas Day is really just another day has been a vital part of managing this ‘turn about’ process. In reality, I could declare January 15th or August 12th Christmas Day if I wanted to.
Whatever your religious or other beliefs, I hope your Christmas period is happy and healthy. I hope you get to spend time with family and friends – or not if that is your choice. Mostly I hope that if it all seems overwhelming and not much fun at all, that you will consider getting help with that because it probably doesn’t have to be that way.