health

Oprah: 'You can't talk someone out of depression.'

We’ve made a lot of progress in Australia when it comes to discussing mental health issues, due in part to the celebrities who have been open about their own struggles, and those who have lent their talents to the various campaigns aimed at those who have been suffering in silence.

The overall message: You are not alone. There is help available.

Oprah. Image: Getty.

Still, there's something comforting about Oprah joining the conversation. In her most recent edition of O Magazine Oprah has shared her experiences with how mental illness has effected many of her loved ones.

She says one of the biggest lessons she's learned is that you, "...can't talk someone out of depression."

"In recent years I've come face-to-face with mental illness, as several people close to me were hospitalized with severe suicidal depression, and manic and schizophrenic thoughts. More than once I've sat in the psych ward waiting to hear the diagnosis."

It's a harsh lesson for those who watch people close to them struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. You can't fix them, you can't help them, all you can do is accompany them on their journey to wellness. All you can do is be there to hold their hand.

My husband learned this last year when I faced a crisis of my own. I'd been carrying around my own secret struggles, functioning enough for most people to accept that I was okay until last year when my son was diagnosed with autism and it all came crashing down.

There was nothing he could do or say to make it better.

She writes:

I'm a good talker. But I soon learned that you can't talk someone out of depression. Mental illness is real. And like everything else in life, it operates on a spectrum. Though there are common symptoms, everyone experiences it differently. 

Yet so many people live in shame, hiding their struggles or not even seeking help.

Tomorrow will be better...

Tomorrow I'll do better...

I just have to chill out...

I just have to calm down...

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I just have to get out of bed...

Oprah has done numerous shows about mental illness and it's far-reaching effects but says it wasn't until she watched loved ones go through it that she really understood. Article continues after this video.

And for those of us left to watch people we care about face very real struggles is the realisation that you can’t talk someone out of depression any more than you can talk someone out of having a broken leg. That’s why there are doctors and health professions trained to take care of both.

Why do we think we can? We go to the doctor to treat our broken leg, so why not go to the doctor to treat our our mental health issues?

Oprah talks about the shame and how prohibitive it is. She writes:

The only real shame is on us for not being willing to speak openly. For continuing to deny that mental health is related to our overall health. We need to start talking, and we need to start now.

Oprah. Image: Getty.

In Australia the conversation is well and truly underway and has been for years. Now that we can add Oprah to the conversation we can continue to raise awareness of mental health issues and to work towards securing more funding and better services for those in need.

Hopefully in the future accessing mental health treatment is as simple as popping into your GP. In fact, it pretty much is.

If you or someone you love is struggling you can see your local GP and complete a Mental Health Assessment Plan which qualifies you for up to 10 sessions that are covered by Medicare. It's no where near enough but it's a start.

Then there's there's services such as Lifeline on that you can contact on 13 11 14.

Oprah ends her reflection by recommending the book The Storm Inside by Shelia Walsh which I immediately downloaded. It's discusses the inner chaos many women face each day and offers advice on how to get through these times, hopefully coming out stronger than ever before.

Purchase your copy of The Storm Inside here.

Read Oprah’s full article here.

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