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