Living with mental illness
FEELING "brave" and hopeful that sharing her experiences will help others to find the help they need, a Gurranang wife, mother and grandmother contacted The Daily Examiner.
Jean Scott doesn't believe she will ever be cured of depression, but she has found the confidence to speak publicly for the first time about her illness.
"I've turned 60 and I can do anything now. Who cares; I'm not insecure now," Mrs Scott, now aged 62 said.
"I was first medicated for depression when I was 28, but only for a short time.
"As I look back, I can see that I was depressed a lot, but I've only started to work it out in later years."
While her own troubles are not small, she has recently started a Grafton self-help group for people with depression and another online group for those who struggle with leaving their house.
What angers her is not only that Clarence Valley has limited services for people with a mental illness, but doctors don't refer patients to these services.
"I didn't know there was a mental health system in Grafton of any sort. I only knew of what was in Coffs Harbour and my only experience of that had frightened me.
"No-one ever suggested my admittance as a mental health patient and my GP said referring me to a psychiatrist in Bangalow was all she could give me.
"I've been seeing the same doctor for many years and then I find out the same clinic I was going to had a mental health nurse and there are psychologists around town I could have seen."
This discovery was made at the self-help group.
"I can't understand why in Grafton we can't have access more readily to mental health doctors and nurses and why, in the purgatory I was in, my doctor didn't refer me to the mental health nurse in the same clinic."
Mrs Scott's depression dates back to a violent childhood and can be triggered by heated family arguments or witnessing violent acts on the street.
HELP AT HAND
Depression Self-Help Group
Meets at 10am each Monday at the Grafton Community Centre in Duke St. It is a safe place, where some come to talk about their week or experiences and others just to listen and get out of the house.
Phone Jean Scott on 6647 7558 or just turn up.
Online Self-Help Group
People who need mental help should start with a visit to their GP.
The Mental Health Access Line - 1300 369 968 - can put you in touch with the local community mental health team.
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636 - can provide help and advice.
Lifeline - 13 11 14 - is available 24/7 for suicide counselling.
Kid's Helpline - 1800 551 800. Men's Line Australia - 1300 78 9978.
Alcohol and other Drug Info - 1800 422 599.
Alcoholics Anonymous - 6649 4721.
Community Health - Grafton 6640 2402, Maclean 6640 0123.
Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Services - 6643 2199.
CHESS Employment (Personal Helpers and Mentors Program) - 6644 3222.
Cranes Community Support - Grafton 6642 7257, Maclean 6645 5080.