Beyond Blue Offers Inspiration

Mental Health Awareness Month

Welcome to MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH at Annabel & Alice! If you haven’t already, head on over to Blog of Erised to read more about all the great posts going up around the blogosphere this month, and participate in a great giveaway, all in aid of raising the awareness of mental health in the community.

Today I’m going to share something that was a great inspiration to me. As you may know (or not, but that’s ok!), I’ve struggled with severe depression and anxiety for many years, though it’s been much worse over the past two years I suppose. For a long time, I exerted a huge amount of energy putting on a cheerful front and acting like I was A-OK all the time. However, eventually, I just didn’t have the energy left to maintain that ‘Happy’ mask. As I sunk further into depression, people around me slowly backed away. I graduated law school, but I defied expectations of being an immediate success, and didn’t throw myself into the intellectual and time pressured environment that was corporate law.

I grew up in a home where success is measured more in monetary security than good deeds. As the ‘smart one’ of the family, there was no question that I would be anything other than a traditional success. When I strayed from the standard path of degree-graduation-job, people definitely didn’t know how to react. Family and fellow graduates alike were confused. Those that knew the part that my depression played in my decision not to pursue the long hours and harsh environment of corporate law were still baffled about how to deal with that. In choosing a different path, and admitting that I had a mental health issue, I had somehow become a failure in their eyes.

This, to me, meant two things. Firstly, I felt that I had disappointed everyone, and somehow failed to live up to my potential. Secondly, I was saddened that it was so hard to have an open discussion about mental health without being judged, especially seeing as it’s so common in today’s society.

With regards to the first issue, I was lucky enough to stumble upon some very wise words that I often remind myself of when feeling like depression has made me a failure. Whilst on placement in a law firm, towards the end of my degree, we had a workplace seminar on mental health. 50% of lawyers suffer from depression, and the numbers just keep rising. Although firms now encourage more of a work-life balance, the long hours and depressing subject matter still take a dreadful toll. It was during this session that we were shown a clip from Beyond Blue, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of depression and anxiety.

The clip was an interview with Paul Menzies, an Australian QC. It focused on his struggle with depression, and how he fought the urge to pretend that everything was ‘fine’. Instead, he decided to take steps to gradually change things in his life that helped manage his depression, one step at a time. He ‘defied’ the stigma of depression, and is widely recognised as successful, by professional standards.

Seeing this very successful man publicly, and impressively, speak out about how depression impacted his career and how he bravely changed his lifestyle to better manage the condition, was inspirational. It not only gave me hope that the legal profession could adapt it’s practices to better suit the mental health needs of practitioners, but also showed me that success – whatever that may mean – and depression are not mutually exclusive.

Furthermore, his willingness to share his experiences with depression, and how that impacted his work and life, gave me hope that open discussions about mental health could become more acceptable. Here was this man, unafraid of what people might think of him, openly encouraging people to look outside of themselves when looking to manage their issues.

I think if he could do it, albeit in a more high-profile setting than my little ‘ole blog, then I can do it to – and if I can do it, then so can anyone! Initiatives like Mental Health Awareness Week are great ways to defeat the stigma surrounding depression and anxiety. The more we talk about it, the less foreign it will become, and the less likely those who suffer from mental health problems will feel ashamed of themselves, or feel that they have failed their friends and family.

You can find the interview that inspired me here:

I suppose I hope that by sharing this with you, I might help someone, somewhere, feel a little better about what they’re dealing with. If not, I hope that it will at least encourage you to be a little more open to talking about mental health with those you love or those who are suffering. If you need someone to talk to, check out Beyond Blue – they know what they’re talking about!

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  • http://www.seriouslysarah.net Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s very true. The stigma is terrible, even though most people I know are depressed. Since I’m allergic to most anti-depressants, it’s not unusual to find me crying in my cubicle. The pressure to succeed (real or perceived) only makes it worse. Our culture pushes us so hard that no one can really relax. When I take time to relax, I feel like I should be trying something new and exciting, instead of just laying in bed.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I agree, it’s so strange that so many people have experienced it, but nobody likes to talk about it! I think I’m on my fifth type of antidepressant, and even this one is only so-so. I definitely understand the feeling of guilt for relaxing! I’m glad that it’s not just me – even though, logically, I KNOW it’s not, it’s nice to hear from other people who understand. Thanks so much for commenting!

  • http://tanejasbride.com Shipra Taneja

    A lot of people secretly suffer. I think it’s good for there to be awareness of this so that people can come out and say that they suffer. There’s nothing wrong with it at all. Awareness will only build support systems! <3

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I agree, it’s so important to speak out – It feels uncomfortable to talk about it, in a world that keeps it a secret, but I think it’s the only way to make progress!

  • http://www.simplyadventurous.com Leanna Ranieri

    This is a great post. I think it is so important to be aware not only for yourself but for loved ones!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you! I’m glad you think so 🙂

  • http://amberlyandjoe.blogspot.com/ Amberly

    Thank you for sharing your story and bringing more awareness to the situation!! 🙂

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you for visiting!

  • Cosmetic Sanctuary

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been through depression and sometimes still have little episodes, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I agree! It’s so common these days, we shouldn’t have to feel ashamed about anything! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • http://www.poor-unknown.com Lissa Cole

    It’s always great to know you are not alone in your own mental health struggle! People who do not have some form of mental illness often times don’t understand the struggles that people with mental health issues have to face. I’m glad you shared your story so that people can gain understanding and empathy for those who struggle!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      It feels awkward to talk about it, when so many people still consider it shameful or something, but I agree that it is the only way to encourage empathy and understanding instead! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • http://wheretheheartblog.blogspot.com Caity @ Where The Heart Is

    Thank you for sharing your story! The more people that are comfortable talking about it, the more everyone will be able to understand and help.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thanks! I agree, speaking out is the best way to change things… I look forward to people being more understanding of mental health one day.

  • Carly Anderson

    This is such a great post! It’s so sad to me the stigma that surrounds depression…..I mean, theres no stigma around other illnesses!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you! I agree, it’s so strange that it’s treated so differently, just because it’s an ‘invisible’ illness.

  • Logan Cantrell

    Thank you for sharing this. The Psychology nerd in me is really excited to see people taking about mental illness and raising awareness. Great post!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Haha, the psych nerd in me understands your excitement! I was so excited to see that bloggers were banding together to raise awareness and understanding.

  • Leah from www.thatmamajama.com

    Such a great post!!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you!

  • http://www.lipstickandlullabies.ca Rebekah

    Thank you so much for sharing and raising awareness!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by! 🙂

  • http://www.ashleybrookenicholas.blogspot.com/ Ashley Nicholas

    I’m so happy that brave people like you are helping to eliminate any stigma against mental health! I hope that one day it won’t phase people at all! Know that we support you and are sending positive vibes your way!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you so much! It’s so lovely to get such a great response to this post. I hope that it will be ‘normal’ to talk about in the future, too!

  • http://www.myrabev.blogspot.co.uk/ Mia Myrabev

    This us such a beautiful post, thanks for sharing x

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you!

  • http://www.celeryandcupcakes.com/ Jemma Andrew

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. There is still so much stigma associated with depression it’s such a shame, more people need to be made aware of it.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I agree! It’s so strange, most people probably know at least a few people who struggle with mental health, but might not even know it!

  • Leah Woods

    Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story! I’m so glad to meet fellow likeminded people. I have never understood the stigma attached to mental health. You wouldn’t deny someone medicine or help when suffering from cancer etc. so why deny it to those with mental health issues? I also suffer with anxiety and panic attacks, but onwards and upwards. I just hope that this month helps more people realise how completely normal it is, how common it is and how it works!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Hi! I’m so glad you understand – though I’m sorry you’ve had to experience it for yourself! I hope one day it will be considered the same as any other more visible illness. Thanks so much for getting behind our blogger awareness month!!

  • http://www.cestsibonblog.com Stefani

    This is so fantastic. I’ve suffered with anxiety for years and definitely hid it from most people for a long, long time. I’m sure that you’ll be able to help someone by sharing your experience!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I hope so! That would be fantastic. I used to hide to from everyone too, but I’m slowly becoming more open – no point being surrounded by people who won’t support me!

  • http://www.alyssadawsonblog.com Lyssadawson

    Good insight and information on a tough and sometimes confusing topic for people.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you for stopping by!

  • Deidre || Love, The Skinnys

    Very educational and helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thank you for visiting!

  • http://www.hellonatureblog.com/ Ashley

    As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, I get it and really LOVE this post.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I’m so glad you get it!!

  • http://thelaurawayblog.blogspot.com/ Laura Elizabeth

    I’ve battled depression for ten years (and keep in mind, I’m only 20), and I know how hard it is. And thank you for talking about it- no one ever wants to.

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thanks for visiting! Hopefully if just a few of us can start talking about it, we can help a few more people feel more comfortable too.

  • http://penniesandpaper.blogspot.com/ Julia @ Pennies & Paper

    Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing this interview! Very inspiring. I don’t suffer from depression, but I have some anxiety disorders than often lead to me feeling down and worthless. Will be sharing this!

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      I’m glad you thought the interview was inspiring, and worth sharing! Beyond Blue were great, they got his permission to post it online super quickly. I hope you can remember it next time you’re feeling down, and that it helps lift you up again.

  • Kristine Foley

    Such a great series! It really is about making people aware! Thanks for sharing! XO

    • http://annabelandalice.com Annabel Krantz

      Thanks for getting behind our blogger awareness month! We really appreciate it.

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