Vanessa Phillips from Hertfordshire was known as a strong person, always willing to help others. When she had a breakdown, her friends didn't know she was the one who needed help.
"My breakdown was triggered by my mother's death. I was a 41-year-old divorced single parent of two children and I had no support. The council was trying to evict me from my home.
"I was eating hardly anything and I wasn't sleeping. I was shaking and suffering huge anxiety, but I didn't know I was ill. I thought I just had too much on my plate. I now feel that if people had been there for me, if people had listened to me, I might not have become so ill.
"Everyone knew me as a very strong person who helped others with their problems, so when I was saying, 'I'm not coping, I need help', people didn't pay any attention. I began spending a lot of time in bed under my duvet. I went to my doctor, who gave meantidepressant pills. I knew nothing about depression and he didn't tell me anything.
"A friend came round to see if I was all right one Friday morning. She didn't know I'd already decided to kill myself. She found me sitting in bed ranting and raving. She saw an empty pill bottle and a half-empty bottle of whisky and she phoned my doctor, who called an ambulance.
"I was kept in hospital for two weeks and sent home with more pills, but still no more information about depression. I started going to the library and reading books on mental health, and saw how diet, lifestyle, healthy eating and vitamins were involved.
"Slowly, I began to recover. I had a lot of help from a lovely mental health nurse who took a real interest in me. She used my love of plants to deal with my social exclusion by driving me in her car to the garden centre for a walk and a cup of coffee.Having someone else caring about mewas the catalyst that helped me sort out things I couldn't cope with.
"It took me a long time, but I got back on my feet. It would have been faster if I'd had more support and more information. I now run a depressionawareness groupso that other peopledon't have to go through what happened to me."
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition.
Read about the symptoms of depression, which can be mild, moderate or severe. Symptoms can also be classed as psychological, physical and social.
Read about what causes depression. There's no single cause and many possible risk factors.
Find out how depression is diagnosed. Your GP will ask you lots of questions about your general health and how your feelings are affecting you mentally and physically.
Find out how depression is treated. Treatment depends on how severe your depression is, but usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies and medication.
Information and advice about coping with depression, including diet and exercise, talking therapy, dealing with bereavement and caring for someone who's depressed.
Read about psychotic depression, a severe form of depression where people experience the usual symptoms of depression, plus delusions and hallucinations.
Vanessa Phillips was known as a strong person and always willing to help others. When she had a breakdown, her friends didnt know she needed help.
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