Pork chops and banana bread are two of the small ways Louise Swainson gives back to her husband, Karn, as she recovers from depression and anxiety triggered by major life events.

“Karn is my world, my greatest support and I know it can be hard for those supporting someone who is experiencing depression,” Louise says.

“At times this has really taken a toll on him, so he deserves love and support as much as I do.”

Louise is an only child who had a stable and loving upbringing with her single mum, and a close bond with “the best nana and poppa you could ever imagine.”

She shares her story in the hope that it will give others confidence to talk openly too.

Wrestling the black dog

Louise’s mental health struggles began after her poppa – a strong father figure  – died suddenly when she was 16.  Shortly after, curiosity drove her to seek out her birth father.  Although they remain in contact, the relationship is not close.

Louise undertook counselling, but underlying feelings of sadness remained over the next few years while she worked as a nanny, got married, and became a stepmum to her husband’s two small children.

Another huge blow struck when, just a few weeks after Louise’s wedding, her nana died. Louise’s feelings plunged to the lowest she’d ever experienced.  “That’s when I got really bad.”

She sought help from “an amazing GP” and was given antidepressants, but her anxiety and depression continues and at times has affected her job, the family finances and her marriage. 

Mindfulness leads to a brighter future

Although there are times when she has crashed dangerously low; nowadays Louise’s goal is to be happy, healthy, calm and content.

Louise is lucky to have a supportive employer. She was initially reluctant to reveal her mental health issues for fear of being viewed as weak.

“But I took that leap of faith and it’s worked in my favour ­– they’re wonderful people.”

She sees a naturopath as well as a nutritionist and is trying yoga and meditation hoping these holistic practices will help her manage her mental health.

Participating in a community course on anxiety and depression has introduced her to mindfulness and cognitive behaviour therapy tools – and “Karn has recently bought me a colouring book for mindful self-focus”.

“I will do what it takes to get well,” Louise says. “I’m quite determined to not let depression rule my life, because for a very long time it has.”

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