Depression - Vanessa's story 

'It took me a long time, but I did get back on my feet' 

Depression: Vanessa's story

Depression is a serious illness. In this video, Vanessa Phillips talks about how she recovered after her breakdown.

Vanessa Phillips from Hertfordshire was known as a strong person, always willing to help others. When she had a breakdown, her friends didn’t know she was the one who needed help.

“My breakdown was triggered by my mother’s death. I was a 41-year-old, divorced, single parent of two children and I had no support. The council was trying to evict me from my home.

“I was eating hardly anything and I wasn’t sleeping. I was shaking and suffering huge anxiety, but I didn’t know I was ill. I thought I just had too much on my plate. I now feel that if people had been there for me, if people had listened to me, I might not have become so ill.

“Everyone knew me as a very strong person who helped others with their problems, so when I was saying, ‘I'm not coping, I need help,’ people didn’t pay any attention. I began spending a lot of time in bed under my duvet. I went to my doctor who gave me antidepressant pills. I knew nothing about depression and he didn’t tell me anything.

“A friend came round to see if I was all right one Friday morning. She didn’t know I'd already decided to kill myself. She found me sitting in bed ranting and raving. She saw an empty pill bottle and a half-empty bottle of whisky and she phoned my doctor, who called an ambulance.

“I was kept in hospital for two weeks and sent home with more pills, but still no more information about depression. I started going to the library and reading books on mental health and saw how diet, lifestyle, healthy eating and vitamins were involved.

“Slowly, I began to recover. I had a lot of help from a lovely mental health nurse who took a real interest in me. She used my love of plants to deal with my social exclusion by driving me in her car to the garden centre for a walk and a cup of coffee. Having someone else caring about me was the catalyst that helped me sort out things I couldn’t cope with. 

“It took me a long time, but I got back on my feet. It would have been faster if I'd had more support and more information. I now run a depression awareness group so that other people don’t have to go through what happened to me.”

Last reviewed: 07/01/2010

Next review due: 07/01/2012


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lew82 said on 22 April 2011

So much stigma to beat. I fell ill during my undergrad. degree aged 22 (age 23 graduated after repeat year- more a less top of class) Ended up struggling through interviews, never getting the job.

That fed my poor health further- got grants to do postgrad. training, constantly fell ill during research. Dreading finally starting work (proper work) aged 29 next year (with 3 posgrad. qualifications/one six month contract). So much explaining to do in interviews :(

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missmayhem said on 31 March 2011

WHOCARES I agree there is still a stigma with those who have mental illness but its only us who have the illnesses who see it as the rest of the world sees us through its rose tinted glasses. I've been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression but yet im failing to see how as Ive been living with the condidtion undignosed for 7 years and my daughter is 18 months old, but if thats what they want me to belive and fob me off with then fair enough.

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MM77 said on 06 February 2011

i know how you feel,i am sat up in bed sobbing my heart out,i had a breakdown down over a year ago and spent weeks in hospital,it was horrid,and i don't want to end up back there ever again.
my problem is, i have been told that my depression,could be hormone related i am going through the menopause,but am reluctant to go on hrt,because of the possible side effects and risks,i am pulling my hair out as what to do for the best,meanwhile i am suffering.

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whocares said on 22 January 2011

I am in your situation as was then. I am constantly asking for help. I was told I was borderline Personality dissorder but never told what that meant. Then I was over anxious and then best of all depression. Well which is it and what is it.
Every day is such a struggle and I have to fight so hard not to take my life. I do not care what the NHS says THERE IS STILL A STIGMA TO MENTAL HEALTH

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