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Ruth - Interview 19

Age at interview: 49
Age at diagnosis: 31
Brief Outline: Ruth describes herself as an outgoing, bubbly person. She first experienced depression after she moved out of home in her early 30s. She has successfully lived through her depression experience for a number of years with the help of regular counseling, exercise, medication and travel.
Background: Ruth has recently retired from a career as an executive assistant and is starting her own travel company. She is single and enjoys travel and sport. Ethnic background' Jewish.

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Ruth had a happy childhood, describes herself as outgoing and bubbly, and is a keen sportsperson. She is single and grew up in a Jewish family where there were strong expectations for women to marry and have children. When she was in her early 30s Ruth moved out of home. The fact she was single weighed on her mind, particularly at social functions. 
 
Ruth says her depression started after she left home. She became withdrawn, sad and cried a lot. This was completely at odds with her ‘normal upbeat, bubbly personality’. One day Ruth attended a lunch and cried all through it, which prompted a friend to suggest she might be depressed. She saw a psychiatrist who diagnosed her with depression and prescribed antidepressant medication. She also had counselling and says within two weeks she felt better. However, she still felt pressure from her family and social network to marry and settle down, and found this very difficult.
 
Four years later Ruth, after experiencing depression again, saw a female doctor. She says they ‘clicked’ and she still sees this doctor today. She continues to take medication and sees her psychiatrist once a month, but if she feels she is ‘travelling well ‘she doesn’t require counselling. She has had periods off her medication but is currently happy to continue taking it as feels she is ‘more herself’ while taking it. When her grandmother died six years ago she was not taking her medication and found this difficult to cope with.
 
Ruth describes her experience from diagnosis to today as a meaningful learning journey. She has been open and honest with her colleagues, family and friends about her experiences of depression. She says she has not experienced a bad reaction when telling people about this and says having a supportive employer, friends and family is a key part of  getting better 
Part of her ‘recovery journey’ has been to embrace new challenges. Ruth participates in many sporting activities and sets herself travel goals, often travelling to remote places. Exercise is a major aspect of her life and she says it is integral to maintaining her mental health.
 
Ruth acknowledges that living with depression is difficult. Her advice for other people is to seek help and not just live with it. She says people experiencing depression need to accept it but be hopeful about getting better, because it is possible with the right support. Ruth describes her own experience as one of empowerment and growth. She is hopeful about her future and excited about her new business and future travel and sporting challenges.
 
 

Ruth identified being single and feeling pressure to marry and have a family as contributing to...

Ruth identified being single and feeling pressure to marry and have a family as contributing to...

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But things, you know, in my personal life were always difficult because I was now in my, my mid-30s. Everyone around me was getting married, having kids. I wasn't and I struggle with it; and I guess my family struggle with it. 
 
And it was always the case when you go out to functions, you know, oh when are you getting married? When are you settling down? The whole bit. And that wasn't me; and it's still not me. So there was a lot of pressure. Even though I did - I was handling my, my depression, I was handling my condition, there was still the pressure from the - my surrounds. And I found it very hard to cope with that. 'Cause I'm one of these people who just does what they're told, to a certain extent. 
 
You know, I'd been brought up in a Jewish environment, Jewish home, family are very, very big. It's a very big part of my life. So it's always, it's always part of, you know, the next step. You've got to find someone, you've got to settle down, you've got to have kids. And that wasn't the way my life panned out. 
 
I actually think depression runs in the family and I think I've actually got it on both sides of the family. My dad actually had a couple of breakdowns. He was a very nervous, anxious man. He actually had a couple of nervous breakdowns. And my Mum - again, I could say to her, Mum, you're suffering from depression. But my Mum's 76; she won't do anything about it because it's that generation. 
 
And it's a case of they think that if something in their environment changes, it'll be better. Well, it doesn’t - it's a case of almost, sometimes, where you can, you can never please them because they are so depressed. Even the nicest things will even - they'll see it in - it's glass half full, glass half empty; and hers has always been glass half empty. So, you know, it… I know my Mum suffers from depression, and I think - I believe also it's a bit - it is a generic condition.
 
 

Once Ruth let her employer know about her depression, they were very supportive.

Once Ruth let her employer know about her depression, they were very supportive.

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I, you know, I remember having bouts of depression while I was working, and, you know, saying to my boss I just need time out. Take the time out. Do what you have to do. Again, I think I'm very lucky. I think I'm very lucky because I know that's not the norm, you know. 
 
I heard of a story recently of someone who told her, her employer and they took it pretty badly. Oh, yeah, I talk about myself being blessed because of the people in my life that have sort of said well, Ruth, you know, we just want you to be happy. That's what life's all about, and if you - you know, so when I told my friends, when I told my family, when I told my employer, they were supportive because they wanted me, they wanted me to get better . You know?
 
 

Ruth described her experience with a psychiatrist as very positive one.

Ruth described her experience with a psychiatrist as very positive one.

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Yeah I, look, I consider like a bit of a life coach. You know, like I said, I don’t have to see her once a month. I don’t have to see her twice a month. I can see her once every three months, four months, six months. It's all a matter of how I feel. So, for me, I like the opportunity to sit down and talk to her. I can talk to my sister, you know, and, and I sometimes will sit with my sister and tell her what my psychiatrist said to me. She goes, Ruth but I've told you that. I said yeah, but you telling me that is not the same as somebody, you know, somebody else telling me that; because a lot of times...
 
I've got a friend who also, you know, suffers a bit from depression, and she's very resistant to go and talk to someone. And she says to me well, I talk to my friends. That's not the same. It's not the same. Yeah, I've got heaps of friends I can talk to, and I do talk to my friends, but I just find it a lot more - I get a lot more out of going to talk to my psychiatrist and I get a lot more from the advice she gives me. And it might be exactly the same as my, you know, very - my - one of my closest friends says, but it doesn’t have the same impact, doesn’t have the same impact.
 
 

Ruth talked about being happy to continue taking antidepressants as they made her feel ‘herself’.

Ruth talked about being happy to continue taking antidepressants as they made her feel ‘herself’.

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So the medication doesn’t worry me. I'm more than happy to take it because when I'm on the medication it is who I am. It brings out – I- I've got - I guess they call it a chemical imbalance. And for me, the medication levels that; so medication has helped me. 
 
I'm been very lucky that the medication that I've been on from day one hasn't given me any side effects; has just, just been great.
 
And when you're on the right medication, when you're on the right therapy, you're on the right track. And it makes such a difference to your life. When you're depressed you are not who you are; and that's what used to upset me because I am pretty outgoing, and when I'm depressed that's not who I am. Who I am is when I'm on my medication, when I'm properly treated, when I'm talking about it, when I'm not talking about, when I'm just getting on with life and...
 
Yeah. Look, I'd, I'd be happy to come off it, and I'd probably, you know, talk to my psychiatrist about coming off it. And, you know, she's always said to me you can, you can certainly level it back, you know, take smaller, a smaller dosage and then gradually come off it, if that's what you want to do. But we haven’t discussed it, probably, in the last six months. I think the last time I discussed it was about six months ago, and she, she wasn't keen for me to come off it. She just couldn't understand why. If it's working why do you want to, you know, - and like I said, that's probably a good thing because had I not been on it now, with what's been happening, I think I would have struggled.
 
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