“My experience with depression started when I was a teenager, and I was a solo mum.”
After becoming a young mother, Debra felt really alone. She reached out for support in her community and started medication. Over time, she was able to build resilience and take steps towards wellbeing.
Life is and can be amazing – you just have to really work at it.
My experience with depression started when I was a teenager, and I was a solo mum. I had a relationship with this guy that I really liked and ended up pregnant, and he didn’t want anything to do with me or the child. I was supported wonderfully by my parents, but it was a lonely, lonely, lonely time.
It was considered by some around me that I’d made my lot in life and then, therefore, nobody would really be interested in me now, and that made me feel even worse.
There was an afternoon where my son and I were having a disagreement. I just absolutely felt that I was at the end of my tether and I lost – I just had enough, I couldn’t cope any more. I just wanted to hurt something, hit something. I was scared I was going to hurt my son. I had the sense to ring and ask for help, and I rang this lady who was our Brownie group leader, whom I’d heard does some good counselling. And I rang her, and she just said, “Put the kids in the car and come over now, and we’ll talk.”
She realised that I needed help, that this was bigger than me, and so she rang my doctor, made an appointment for me straight away. He diagnosed me at that time with depression and started me on some antidepressants, which took a few weeks to take effect, but they made a huge difference. Once we got everything balanced and working, I just felt so much better. was able to – I still wasn’t necessarily happy with things that were happening but I was able to manage it.
I got really more involved in my own life, and a few years later, I met another guy whom I had a really close relationship with. He unfortunately, also had some mental health challenges and eventually, unfortunately, he committed suicide, which was really, really hard. And that was a terrible time – just tragic. And I wish, you know, he could have seen what I saw.
After that, I decided, right, I'm gonna just concentrate on my life. So I did. I got a really cool job working for the New Zealand Spinal Trust. Through that, I met my now husband. My husband is a high-level tetraplegic and we've got a really positive life. He has a really positive aspect, attitude to life, which was part of what first attracted me to him. As a carer for my husband, I mean that has its challenges. It’s constant and it’s consistent, but there are days when I need to recognise that today it’s not a good day, and today I actually need to step back and take care of myself, and it’s having the courage to say that to him. Like, “Today, I really just can't do that. It might be a good idea if we get a carer in for a couple of days,” or, “Let’s go to the beach for a walk.” Because I know that it’s good for him, it’s good for me. We can share and talk, and that really helps, helps me hugely. Just being around this is amazing – the sounds, just grounding. You know, we can take control of our own wellbeing.
I try to eat well. I try to make sure I get enough sleep. I take control of the things that I can control and try and really, you know, look after myself. I actually put myself on the list now where, for a long time, I was kind of down the bottom. I looked after everybody else before I looked after myself.
Compared to where I was – and I mean, I just didn’t want to live, life was too hard, uncomfortable and it was painful – but now, I get up every day and I am grateful for the fact that I wake up every morning. Even though life has challenges it can still be really amazing.
There's nothing that really stops us.