On­line support proves saviour

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Statewide Rivervale - Michele Nu­gent

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: team@de­pres­sion­net.org.au 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.”

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Richard Harding.

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