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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Husband tells of tragic result of his wife’s mental illness

THE husband of a Whitehaven woman who killed herself has spoken about the devastating effects of depression.

Stephen Oldfield talked to The Whitehaven News about his wife, Joyce, who suffered from mental illness and struggled with anxiety and worthlessness. “Her story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, ’’ he said, “but for me it was the awful reality of the last few months of Joyce’s life.’’

Mrs Oldfield, whose inquest was held on Monday, was a “very normal and loving woman’’ who within only a few weeks in 2008 turn into a person who was “full of self-doubt”.

“She wanted to punish and harm herself and finally, to spare me the sadness and pain that she believed she was causing me, to take her own life,’’ Stephen said.

“Our days often began with her waking up in tears and very anxious about the day ahead. We spent breakfast times planning and structuring her day, setting simple targets and going over positive aspects of her life to raise her spirits and to give her the confidence to get through the day.

“I would constantly reinforce all the things that she had to look forward to in her life and how well she was doing. We worked hard to choose the foods and exercise that supported positive moods and energy.’’

He said Joyce had tried various talking and cognitive behavioural therapies which had helped a great deal but she desperately wanted to get her life back to normal as quickly as possible.

“She hated looking so well on the outside and feeling so bad on the inside, she hated not being able to go to work as usual,’’ Stephen said. “Joyce would set herself such high standards and values that were not always realistic under her circumstances and this caused her to lose heart and belief in herself until she could take it no more.’’

And he added: “Joyce had many supportive friends and family and our three kids were unbelievably loving and strong for her, they were her best friends.

“Tragically, depression and the chemistry in Joyce’s head prevented her from seeing a positive future and she lost her will to live.’’

Depression is when you feel persistently sad for a prolonged period of time – it is more than simply feeling unhappy or ‘down’. Often depression is regarded as trivial, but it is a real illness which affects people in many different ways and causes a wide variety of symptoms.

Symptoms range from lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy, or feeling tearful or anxious. Physical symptoms can also occur such as constant tiredness, sleeping badly, no appetite or sex drive and various aches and pains.

A spokesperson for Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Depression can be triggered by life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job, or having a baby. People who have a family history of depression are also more likely to experience depression themselves. However, people can also become depressed for no obvious reason.’’

First Step is an NHS service in Cumbria that offers help for mild to moderate mental health problems, including depression. They offer a range of help to suit individual needs – from providing self-help materials to talking treatments. “Talking treatments (common ones being counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy) are designed to influence your thoughts and behaviour and can help change the way that you feel, reducing your depression,’’ the spokesperson added.

If you think you would benefit from help from First Step talk to your GP or ring First Step on 0300 123 9122. A First Step self-help leaflet on depression is available here: http://www.cumbriapartnership.nhs.uk/uploads/First%20Step/depression.pdfVisit NHS Choices for more information about depression: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Introduction.aspx

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