Poverty & depression

While today is Blue Day 2008, where the Australian tech & social media community are raising the awareness of depression & anxiety, we need to remember that we still live in a privileged part of the world. Most of us will never experience poverty in the real sense such as the way people in Darfur are at the moment. Unfortunately this does not mean people don’t experience poverty in Australia, in fact people can end up on the poverty line, or even below it, as an outcome of depression.

Remember over 1 million Australia adults and 100,000 youth live with depression each year, on average, 20% of people will experience depression at least once in their life; 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males. While experiencing depression many people are unable to function within what we casually call normal society, sometimes they end up without any means of financially support themselves or their family.

The inability to financially support oneself can result in them living in poverty. Not only that, these people can be living next door to you, not a faceless individual in another country. Poverty and depression together can create are terrible cycle with one feeding off the other and can send an otherwise intelligent & well functioning person over the edge.

This leads me to Blog Action Day and Learn About Poverty.

Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

This year Blog Action Day is focusing on poverty, which brings me to Learn About Poverty a blog where World Vision has brought together their resources for Blog Action Day.

To help generate excitement for Blog Action Day, World Vision and several other Australian organisations are running a competition to encourage more people to post about poverty. So I encourage you all once you have written you post on depression, pull one together for poverty.

Blue Day 2008

WARNING: A personal post.

Just over a month ago I came up with a wild idea to  do something to raise the awareness of depression and anxiety for Beyond Blue’s ADA month. How easy and simple things sound typing in the isolation of ones own computer!

But before I look forward at what has taken place, let’s look back to my story.

I have suffered on and off from depression for probably the best part of 10 years, however as I learn more about the “black dog” I feel I have had him around me for the better part of half my life.

The black dog took over my life several times in the last 8 years, but at two very clear times. First when I felt trapped in a job I did not enjoy but felt I was unable to leave due to financial committments to my family. Secondly after my marriage breakdown. Sometimes he was there for a day or two but other times for what seemed like weeks on end! Everything was black, and too much.

I am lucky as unlike so many others who have attempted suicide my issues never got to that point, although I will admit that the thought did cross my mind a few times. Unfortunately I have known too many people who have crossed the line.

As I said I was lucky.

But still depression made me not want to get out of bed, reduced my effectiveness in the workplace, become irritated with the ones you love, disconnect from society, I would lose interest in the things that gave me enjoyment. Basically you become a shell of a human being. Not something to wish on anyone.

One of the big issues was pointed out by Cameron Reilly on Twitter a couple of days ago:

the problem is that when you’re in a deep depression your brain ain’t working right, so you CAN’T ask for help

I feel another issue stopping people from asking for help is the perceived stigma attached to depression and anxeity that people are affraid to talk about it openly for fear of the consequences. To this I say BULL SHIT! The best thing you can do is talk about it, even better seek professional help.

Eventually I decided to seek help, and over the last 9 months have been making significant progress in taking control of the “black dog”.

Now forward to Blue Day 2008!

I registered a domain name http://blueday2008.org and over the last few weeks started a fairly low level advertising of the activity. Not really sure what to expect. I mean I felt a few of my close friends would get involved.

But.

Right now when I look across my social network I see a sea of blue.

There are blog posts being written all over the globe, avatars are changing, people are coming together to acknowledge the issues, and the most amazingly people are openly discussing the issues on Twitter. I have received Twitter replies, direct messages, emails and blog links from all over the place showing support.

The Twitter aspect is to me the most interesting as most of these people have public Twitter profiles which mean everything said will be collected by the Googlebot and be available for others to read.

One last comment. If you are suffering, even if you don’t think you have depression but are just down, reach out and talk to someone. If you are in Australia and in need of urgent help contact Beyond Blue, in other countries reach out and contact your local support groups before it is too late.

Blue Day 2008

We are two days away from Blue Day 2008! What is Blue Day?

Well it is a day to recognise depression and anxiety within society.

So what can you do to get involved?

  • Write a blog post about depression or anxiety, personal insights would be great
  • Produce a podcast about depression or anxiety, as with the blog posts personal insights help
  • If you don’t have a blog of a podcast, register on this site and submit a post that will appear on the Submitted Posts page.
  • Change your avatars on your favourite social networking site Twitter/Facebook/FriendFeed/etc to something blue, download one of our pre-built ones
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • Modify your blog theme to be mainly blue
  • Run a Second Life event, or attend the jokaydia event
  • Wear blue for the day
  • Organising a meet ups on the day, currently organised:
  • Sydney – Oct 10 from around 5pm, will be a STUB event and part of Official Friday Drinks at Grace77Bar on the Mezzanine level, cnr King and York
  • Adelaide – details TBD
  • Brisbane – details TBD
  • Perth – Oct 10 from 7pm at Queens Hotel – 520 Beaufort Street, Highgate
  • Canberra – Oct 10, 2008 from 12:00pm – 1:00pm Verve Cafe/Bar
  • Tag your photos/posts/tweets with BlueDay2008
  • Become a fan on FaceBook
  • If you want to join in it is not too late head over to http://blueday2008.org & grab a avatar, join in on Second Life, write a blog post, or attend a Blue Day meet up.