Online support proves saviour
FEELING alone and vulnerable are two symptoms of depression but a southern suburbs man has discovered an Australian online community that has helped him deal with his illness in a new and positive way.
Richard Harding, who has had depression and anxiety manifesting in a stutter since childhood, has tried many methods to keep it from enveloping him, and wanted to share his success with the resource in the hope it may help others.
“It was only when I experienced a particularly severe mental downturn in September 2013 that I felt I really should join a depression support group, to do something different to tackle my depression,” Mr Harding said.
He first learned of depressioNet.org.au in 2012 when he read Graeme Cowan’s 2007 book Back from the Brink: Australians tell their stories of overcoming depression and a particular chapter about dNet founder Leanne Pethick.
“I again read that chapter and joined dNet the next month,” he said.
“Joining dNet was important to me, because I’ve had depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember.
“Even at primary school I remember having what seemed like a dark cloud in my mind, and my stutter caused me to have social anxiety in speaking to other people.
“I found it good that I could be anonymous on dNet. Members can choose to remain anonymous by using pseudonyms allowing them to more easily discuss their situations and emotions.”
He said dNet enabled people not to feel alone with their mental illness.
“Members of dNet can post to other members on an online message board and participate in an online chat room 24 hours a day and 365 days a year,” he said.
“So people suffering from depres- sion, even experiencing suicidal thoughts, can post their experiences to other members receiving help from posts in response and gain support in online chat.”
Mr Harding said dNet was a place he felt safe to talk about his illness.
“It is a safe place to drop our ‘mask’, behind which we hide our depression. This mask is the more WHERE: www.depressionet.org.au EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org confident and positive exterior that we present to people surrounding us.
“It is held is for self-protection - there are always some people who would use someone else’s depression to stigmatise them. Another reason is not wanting to bother or dampen other people with your own depression.”