Depression support group means ‘people don’t have to suffer alone’

Siobhan Doherty, chief executive of Aware Defeat Depression.  INCT 07-731-CON
Siobhan Doherty, chief executive of Aware Defeat Depression. INCT 07-731-CON

A Carrick woman has spoken of how a depression support made her feel ‘normal’ again after a period of battling mental ill health.

Cathy Wilson suffered from depression for 15 years after the birth of her daughter.

As well as being prescribed anti-depressants and talking therapies, Cathy’s recovery was aided by a local support group run by Aware Defeat Depression.

The local woman said the difference with the support group is the “strength and comfort you gain from being with other people who know exactly what you are going through, because they have all been there themselves”.

“Health care professionals can be sympathetic to the condition but someone who is suffering themselves can be empathetic,” Cathy added.

“The support group has given me an opportunity to learn more about the condition of depression. Also I have learnt about the courses that Aware offers and have attended their Living Life to the Full course.

“I have also gained comfort in knowing that I am not on my own, there are others out there who know exactly how I am feeling and I have gained friendships from the group. I now have gained the strength to reach out to others who tell me they are experiencing depression and to share with them the things that I have learnt.

“The support group has strengthened me and has enabled me to slot back into society and feel ‘normal’ again.”

Cathy believes that many people can benefit from the support group, not only people suffering from depression, but friends and family of those experiencing mental ill health.

“Because I am now able to talk openly about my depression, I have been approached by people in Carrickfergus who are experiencing depression either themselves or in their family,” she said.

“I am able to pass on the things that I have learnt but also to tell them that there is a fortnightly support group in their town and that they don’t need to suffer alone.”

Cathy’s story comes as Aware Defeat Depression prepare to host an information day this Thursday (February 26) at Carrickfergus Library.

There will be stands from other key mental health charities and the event is free of charge and open to anyone.

One of the services that will be highlighted is Aware Defeat Depression’s fortnightly support group, which is held at the library.

The group welcomes people with depression and also those that care for someone with the illness of depression into a safe and caring environment.

It is facilitated by a trained volunteer or Aware staff member.

Siobhan Doherty, chief executive of Aware Defeat Depression, encouraged anyone suffering from or affected by depression to come along to the information day, which will run from 10am to 12pm.

“Depression can be a very isolating illness and it’s important that people with depression, bipolar disorder, low mood, stress or anxiety know that they do not have to be alone and that we will be there to support them throughout every stage of their recovery,” Siobhan said.

“I would encourage anyone interested to go along to the information day or our support group and find out if it’s something that could help them.”

The Aware support group meetings take place fortnightly in Carrickfergus Library, on Wednesdays from 6.30 pm. Meetings last for an hour and a half.

To find out the date of the next meeting, visit the Aware website www.aware-ni.org or call the Helpline on 0845 20 29 61.