Living with persistent depression
Expert by experience Anne Bianchi bravely shares her deeply personal journey with
depression and reflects on her first public presentation at the virtual conference:
Engineering values-based care for persistent depression with the NHS.
I was born in South Africa and have been living in the UK for the past 12 years. My husband and I have two children and we are both expats, which means we don’t have family support in this country.
I have been suffering from depression for half my life, since I was 18 years old.
I have a recurrent depressive disorder along with generalised anxiety and have unfortunately lived through around ten relapses of my condition in the last 18 years - one following the birth of my first daughter.
At its worst, my condition is completely debilitating and has inhibited my life in many respects. I am currently in remission after my most recent relapse, which started in November last year.
When Dr Simon Mitchell asked me to speak at the virtual conference on persistent depression with CPFT I agreed immediately, as I have always wanted to share my journey but was not sure where to start.
Putting together my slides was another journey as - in some ways - I had to relive everything I have been through. It was particularly difficult for me to express in words how I feel when I am depressed. The best way for me to describe this was in a series of pictures, to give an idea of how I feel when my condition is at its worst.
People shared some lovely feedback in the meeting chat after my presentation, so hopefully my insights resonated with them, and they will help to improve some aspects of mental health services in Cambridgeshire.
I would welcome more opportunities in future to talk about my condition and experiences. I certainly find it helpful and hope it will improve care for persistent depression, and also reduce persistent mental health stigma!
Anne has also kindly given permission for her very powerful, poignant presentation to be published as a learning resource, and hopes it may help others living with depression:
*If you have been affected by anything in this blog please contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
If you’re in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and need urgent support because of a mental health crisis call 111 and select option 2.
If you are experiencing low mood or anxiety and want to seek help for mental health, please speak to your GP or you can self-refer to CPFT’s Psychological Wellbeing Service.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with CPFT services directly if you wish to share any feedback or raise concerns about your mental health care. You can also contact our CPFT Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 376 0775 or email PALS@cpft.nhs.uk for confidential advice and guidance. For more information visit: www.cpft.nhs.uk/patient-advice-and-liaison-service-pals