In mid 1997 I went to see my doctor for symptoms of what I thought was stress. I lived a full and busy life and was going through a particularly challenging time. The diagnosis my GP gave me was clinical depression.
This was a diagnosis that I strongly resisted for some time due to my ignorance of the illness and the cultural stigma and misconceptions surrounding depression.
I was a Research Manager in a large corporation at the time, was renovating my home and raising two teenage daughters and my perception of the 'type of people' who suffer from depression was not one that I could easily identify myself with.
I was fortunate to have a GP who is an excellent doctor and a wonderful woman and proved to be a worthy match for my very strong resistance to accepting firstly the diagnosis, then help and treatment. Having reluctantly accepted the diagnosis, I set out to learn as much as I could about both the illness and available treatments.
What I learned during the following months astounded me. More accurately, I was amazed by my own previous ignorance, and how widespread these misconceptions of depression were. I began to talk openly to friends, family and work colleagues about my own experience with depression and what I had been learning.
I found that I met with two groups of people. Those who had not met depression in their lives before and who were also relatively ignorant of the illness, and those who had either suffered depression, or had a close friend or family member who had. I couldn't believe the number of people I knew who had been struggling with depression without me having any idea.
Over the next 18 months I conducted my own private research into depression, from a 'consumer' rather than a medical perspective. This research focussed on how Australians approach depression:
The concept for depressioNet.com.au arose from this research - that the Internet would fill the enormous gap that exists and provide an ideal resource for people to obtain information on depression, treatment options, help & support.
- Getting help
- Ongoing management
While there are currently an enormous number of sites on depression, there is no site which presents itself for Australians as a single resource from which all information and assistance is available, in a simple and user friendly manner, with no advertising or sales gimmicks.
For the next 12 months I worked in Telstra's Online Channel gaining experience in Internet production and management. In April 2000 I commenced the background work for depressioNet.com.au. Once started, the scope quickly grew and it soon became apparent that it would not only take my full-time effort, but that I would not be able to do it alone. The initial site went live with four pages in early June at which time I left Telstra to work full-time on the project.
The scope of depressioNet.com.au has grown significantly since it's conception, and continues to grow as we receive more feedback from Australians visiting the site. Our vision is large, to build a 'worlds best practice' Internet site to serve the needs of the Australian people. We have only just begun and have a long way to go. It is an enormous task and we have a terrific team working hard to produce the significant improvements we have planned for the coming months.
I hope you find depressioNet helpful and welcome any suggestions you have!
- Leanne Pethick