De­pres­sion has made me hap­pier: Kath

Stanthorpe Border Post - - NEWS - Liana Walker Liana.Walker@bor­der­post.com.au

CAR­ING for some­one with a men­tal ill­ness can take its toll and of­ten leads to the carer de­vel­op­ing their own men­tal ill­ness.

That’s what hap­pened to Kath Ives when her hus­band Jake de­vel­oped anx­i­ety, schizophre­nia and de­pres­sion 13 years ago.

Oc­to­ber 6-14 is Men­tal Health Week and Mrs Ives’s story comes as a timely re­minder that men­tal ill­ness can im­pact any­one.

“In the early days, it was re­ally hard be­cause I didn’t un­der­stand men­tal ill­ness,” she said.

“I got re­ally an­gry be­cause I thought that Jake wasn’t try­ing hard enough to be well.”

It wasn’t un­til Mrs Ives de­vel­oped de­pres­sion her­self that she fully un­der­stood what her hus­band was go­ing through.

“I gained em­pa­thy, com­pas­sion and pa­tience in place of anger and frus­tra­tion.”

She said de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion was bit­ter-sweet.

“I was cry­ing all the time, I couldn’t con­trol it. I was tired, I felt a sense of noth­ing­ness, I couldn’t think straight. What came eas­ily to me be­fore be­com­ing ill was so dif­fi­cult.

“I cut my­self off from peo­ple I cared about and I found no joy in the things that used to make me laugh.”

A re­port by the Queens­land Men­tal Health Com­mis­sion states 16.2% of the Queens­land pop­u­la­tion are es­ti­mated to have ex­pe­ri­enced a men­tal dis­or­der. And 74 per cent of those were aged be­tween 16 and 64 but only half of peo­ple with men­tal ill­ness seek treat­ment.

Mrs Ives was one of the 50 per cent who sought help through med­i­ca­tion, ther­apy and self-care.

She re­mained as her hus­band’s carer which came with its chal­lenges.

“The carer role takes over and there isn’t a sign-off sheet. The job is 24/7. When Jake is un­well, there isn’t a break.”

The em­pa­thy Mrs Ives gained from her own ex­pe­ri­ence is what in­spired her to be­come an ad­vo­cate for men­tal health sup­port in Stanthorpe.

“There are a lot of peo­ple who need this sup­port and if fam­ily car­ers can’t be there, who is go­ing to re­place them?”

She most im­por­tantly wanted peo­ple to know they weren’t alone.

“Hav­ing a men­tal ill­ness is not the end of the world.

“In fact, for me it opened a lot more doors than it closed. Iron­i­cally, I am hap­pier be­cause of my men­tal ill­ness.”

If you or any­one you know is strug­gling with men­tal ill­ness call Life­line on 13 11 14. Visit qld­men­tal­health­week. org.au for events hap­pen­ing in the Gran­ite Belt next week.

❝ “Hav­ing a men­tal ill­ness is not the end of the world. — Kath Ives

PHOTO: LIANA WALKER

TAK­ING CARE: Kath Ives says writ­ing in her jour­nal is one of the many ways she looks af­ter her men­tal health.

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