A young mother of two is urging anybody who is feeling depressed to pick up the phone and seek help as soon as possible.
Waterside resident, Emma Doolin, has come forward to reveal her own mental health issues – and having overcome them, is urging others not to suffer in silence any longer and get the help they need, especially as Christmas approaches.
Last week, Emma placed a poignant message on Facebook which prompted more than 100 responses and many more private messages to her account.
The message said: “As I’m sure you are all aware of the manic few years it has been for my family...breakdown of marriage, operations galore and cancer.
“Took its toll a bit on me mentally, so I went to my GP for help. I was referred to Zest for counselling and by god it has changed my life so much for the better.
“I’m sharing this with you all to show how easy it is to get help when you really need it. It’s good to talk.”
Emma Doolin says that the origins of her issues most likely lie in post-natal depression.
“I suffered from post-natal depression after my two kids were born. There are only 21 months between both, so by the time I came around, I was pregnant again.
“I suffered from it the second time as well. So it was a cycle of going back to my GP, going on tablets, feeling ok. Then you decide to take yourself off the tablets. Then you don’t know what sparks it off – and before you know it, you are back with the GP again saying, ‘I’m not feeling well again, I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” said Emma.
Compounding the issue was the breakdown of Emma’s marriage in 2010.
She said: “I left my husband, and for about four weeks afterwards, I was very depressed.
“I think it was the overwhelming feeling that everything came out and I had been covering things up for so long.
“I nearly had an excuse when I had the kids, but afterwards I tried to hide it, I didn’t have a reason for this any more.
“And, you don’t want people knowing what was going on because you are too proud and just want to get on with your life.
“So I had no reason to go to anyone and say ‘I feel depressed.’ It was the fear of feeling stupid.”
As the problems accumulated, a range of emotions began to gather within Emma. How did they manifest themselves?
“I was feeling very sad – all the time. Just down.
“People asked ‘what’s wrong with you?’ I’d say ‘I don’t know.’ You don’t put an effort into yourself, you don’t want to see anybody.
“You stay in the house, don’t open the blinds, you keep in darkness. I didn’t want to see anybody. I didn’t want anybody to see me as I was. I also felt, what’s the point? What am I here for? What is the point of me being here if I am as miserable as this?”
Things took a distinct turn downwards this year, Emma told the Sentinel.
She said: “I don’t know what happened really. I wasn’t well. My mother was ill, my father had cancer. Everything built up....then... ‘bam’! I’ve never felt as depressed.
“Then around four months ago, there were suicidal thoughts – that scared me. They were so much in my mind I was convinced it was the right thing to do. I even planned what I could have done.
“To me it was logical. I thought, ‘I could go and do this and everything would be sorted. Everybody will get over it and it will all be fine.’
“I went to my GP, who is fantastic and he sent me to Old Bridge House – the mental health team in the Waterside, who are also brilliant. What they do is assess you, they are a great team of people. Once I spoke to them and my doctor and got the thought out of my mouth, I knew it was wrong.
“Once I actually said it, I thought, maybe this is not the right thing to do,” said Emma.
“They sent me to counselling at Zest in Queen Street who are absolutely fantastic. They offer a ten week course. This isn’t set in stone – if you aren’t feeling well at the end of the ten weeks, they won’t discharge you, they will keep seeing you until you feel fit and better.
“You just talk and tell them anything that’s wrong with you. They put it right in your head and make you see logic. They explain the reasons why you felt the way you did and make you see you are not mad.
“People think they are mad – but they are not. It’s because of the way the brain processes things.”
“I was more than ready at the end of ten weeks to leave them. My case was mild, but I know there are a lot of people whose depression has got to the stage where they feel they can’t talk.
“If you are feeling bad, you need to pick up the phone. There are loads of places in this city where you can go.”
But, what does Emma think are the barriers that can be overcome so that people feel they can pick up the phone and talk?
“People should stop being so God damned proud. People are too proud – they feel ashamed. As I said in work- ‘if you had a broken leg, would you walk about without a plaster on it? No, you wouldn’t, because you can’t. It’s the same thing with your head. You need to talk.’”
The Sentinel put it to Emma that she appears to be a very strong and intelligent person.
She replied: “People think I am like that, but I am very good at hiding things and I am very good at talking over something so people think I am feeling one way, when I really feel another.
“Sometimes nobody, not even the closest of friends or family can pick this up. So, they don’t know the extent of the suffering.
“I told my kids I was coming to do this interview today. I said, ‘remember I was sick with my back and I had to get an operation to get that fixed? Well, sometimes people are sick inside their heads too. They have very sad thoughts. That needs to be fixed too.
“If you ever feel like you tell somebody something then do it because nothing is ever as bad as it seems’.
“People take it to the extent of suicide because they don’t know that help was there. There are so many suicides amongst young men. Men act as if they’ll be ok – as if they don’t need to talk – -well, they do.”
However, it was still a brave act to honestly air her own difficulties on a social media site for the world potentially to see.
How did she feel after doing this?
“I was very proud of myself for doing that. If it means I can point somebody in the right direction, then that’s great,” said Emma.
As Christmas approaches it is perhaps sadly inevitable that this city will learn of the tragedy of another life lost. Emma’s message remains consistent: ‘Pick up the phone,” she said.
Such has been the effect of her recovery on Emma Doolin that she has now become inspired to train at degree level next year in her bid to help others in the same situation she found herself in.
She concluded: “I feel fantastic now. I went to the right places and I got the help I needed.”