Well, in 1977 I arrived in Australia with my family and my then husband to a regional centre, and I was the only anaesthetist there, and I had young family. So, that was a lot of work, a lot of call, a lot of work. Well, I think there were several reasons why I became depressed. I think there was just a lot on my plate, and then I suffered a few losses. I think a lot of it is nature and certainly there's a lot of depression in my family, and in fact my mother killed herself. And I think I was under a lot of strain. So, I think all those facts was combined to make me become depressed.
Doctors are pretty clever at hiding things. I though that I had hidden it, not for any conscious reason, but just because I was going on working and I didn't want it to interfere with my work, and I could be in my distracted moments quite my normal self and cheerful. The supports were not... People at work, there were no mechanisms in place to support people at that time and this was 25 years ago. I don't think any of them would've either known what to say or how to intervene, 'cause it takes some courage to go up to someone, ask them, "How it's going?" and perhaps offer some help and support.
I don't think I was at all able to talk about it in those early days. However, by the time after my colleague and I founded the welfare of anaesthetist group, we decided that we would put this forward for new trainees. So, since then I have certainly mentioned it quite a few times particularity when... In my job now where I have distressed doctors and if I disclose that I have also been depressed, hopefully they'll understand that I can have some sort of idea what they're feeling. And I think the other things is that there are now processes and place to deal with doctors who are distressed in the workplace, so there are support systems like the one I work in.
Well, I'm the deputy director of clinical training and our role is to look after the education of junior doctors, but we also get caught heavily involved in support which is maybe pastoral care, might be identifying mental health issues, it's performance management, so we do all that as well. It's important to know what resources are available.
I have a very supportive partner. I have a lovely family, I live in a good place, I live in a great place, and I have lots of hobbies, have lots of friends. So, I do very many things that I enjoy, which is great because of course when I was depressed I didn't enjoy anything.
What advise would I give to someone who's in a similar situation? Well, I think the first thing to do is to recognise it, even to think that it might happen to you, to know that being a doctor is stressful, and that there are ways of handling that, but if you are not... That you're not surviving in a good way, then you need to recognise that and seek help. The other advice I would give is that is you... If someone comes after you and says, "How you doing?" that you need to understand that that person might be concerned about you, and to listen to what that person says.