Depression - Vanessa's story 

'It took me a long time, but I did get back on my feet' 

Depression: Vanessa's story

Depression is a serious illness. In this video, Vanessa Phillips talks about how she recovered after her breakdown. Sadly, since the making of this film, Vanessa Phillips has died from cancer.

Media last reviewed: 29/08/2013

Next review due: 29/08/2015

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 me antidepressant 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 me was 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 depression awareness group so that other people don't have to go through what happened to me."

Page last reviewed: 19/08/2014

Next review due: 19/08/2016


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The 11 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Whynotme said on 20 March 2014

I am new here, I am an survivor of abuse and I am a stay at home mum to one teen. My husband told me after 19 years of marriage, that a woman is trapped inside of him and he cant make any more promises to me, I have found pics of him dressed up and detailing his desire to have sex with men or women or all.
I guess this explains our lack of sex life for three or four years now. I have never worked outside the home, and I Have my issues with people and when I had worked in the past, I cry and get upset. I don't know why but it seems people sense a weakness in me and they use that for fun.
I have literally no one in life, and yes I have tried counselors but I don't want to hear how easy it is cause its not easy to get out there and met people and work and have a life now, I don't have a desire to really do much, except buy food and clean up and go to bed.
I will be 50 this year, I am overweight and I am in poor health. I have no money to start my life over, I don't know what my hubby wants, he says he still loves me, but who knows what s really going on.
My daughter said I am weak and have no spine, I feel awful, even my own child hates who I am, I hate who I am.
I am tired of hearing how simple it is to move on, its not.

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Dark place said on 12 December 2012

Well, I am still here, and in a much MUCH better place.... Aside from a certain .. realisation of my own fragility... and after Food Drink and some Sleep...aided by a short course of pills... a long long talk with a health professional, within hours I was in a much brighter and better place... within 2 days I could not believe my previous thoughts and actions... I was, suffering from a biological depression triggered by the flu and subsequent fever... but made a whole lot worse by not sleeping for 5 nights ..... and not eating or drinking for 6 days...... I will never again judge anyone who is depressed or ignore a cry for help. It has left me chastened and shocked, if it could happen to me.. it could happen to anyone... Speak to someone... ANYONE....... I was within a day or two of closing this chapter...... I had it all worked out and planned to the last detail....... That frightens me more now than anything else... Pick up the phone.... speak to someone..

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Dark place said on 28 November 2012

I am in my early 50's and had a flu like bug about 3 weeks ago, this then led to continued tiredness aches and loss of appetite, then, the loneliness came, and in turn I am now in the darkest place of my life, I feel worthless, my family would be better off without me one way or another, I cry for no reason and it lasts for hours, I dressed today for the first time in a week, shaved, and went back to bed. I have never been depressed, do not really understand it or those that get it. I have thoughts so dark and terrible, and make plans so detailed I cannot bring myself to repeat them here..said out loud they sound like the ramblings of a lunatic, in the dark, they make perfect sense...... I cannot explain the despair and hopelessness or why it is affecting me....but the past 7 days have been the worst of my life..

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Optimism said on 11 July 2012

Depression. Well... I have had the worst three months of my life. This dark shadow; this evil spirit took control, and it took a month to totally accept this, then another month to actually get help ( I waited too long, i reccommend getting help/speaking to someone straight away) then the third month of trial and errors to get a little better. I would like to share a little advice, if you guys would love to read- anyway- i shall begin:

Exercise... this is a stigma. Apparently it helps, but according to a recent 'Study' it's futile. But i endavour to disagree! Exercise is a fantastic- free; medication. Anyone who exercises, little, or alot will gain self confidence, and being to look/feel better, thus boosting self-esteem and creating long lasting beneficial effects, if stick to a strict regime!

Also, i took up juicing. I am poor, but i found a cheap juicer for 30 pounds. Eeach day or morning or afternoon, juice some carrots, apples, oranges, and pears. (This comes to 90p a day in expenses, this 90p is the best 90p you could possibly spend, I promise you! You start to regain the glow you once had, and your brain and body flourishes and grows thanks to the wonderful nutrients in natures own GENTLE medicine.

Anti depressants... i took these for 2 months, and i'm positive it made everything worse. I became emotionally numb, i couldn't balltle 'This dark shadow' and i was faitgued, and apathatic. So only take (personally, for me) if you are feeling extremely suicidal, and despretely need some boost. But these are heavy things, unnatural; and over all, they do nothing special, plus the side-effecs are awful!

Also, cod live oil, and Siberian Ginseng. These have worked a treat. Also... a healty diet, get rid of negative people, listen to up-beat music, And write down things that people LOVE about you!

This has worked for me... i wish everyone all the best,

Dave; 21

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lonelysecret said on 27 June 2012

ANONGIRL it sounds like counselling would be really beneficial to you. Ive been on antidepressants but it just numbs feelings. I too feel guilty for the people around me as i feel like i must seem so selfish to be depreased when they are so kind to me but then if they are true friends they will stick around. I was abused by my ex boyfriend and i now suffer from flashbacks and nightmares and its mentally draining. I cant enjoy life when im constantly wonderuf when the next will appear. I see a private counsellor and they dont judge me, they let me talk about what i want and no problem is too small or big. We take the big issues slowly by looking at them a bit each session if i am able to but if i dont feel up to it then thats fine too. Please dont think that you are suffering enough to go for counselling. by the sounds of it youve been through some horrific experiences and you need to come to terms with them before you can move on. The first step is always the hardest but please dont feel alone

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popeyeone said on 03 October 2011

Before i had my first child 40 yrs ago, id never had depression, i had bad post natal depression after having her...ive since gone on to have depression for the last 40 yrs...ive had different tablets and CBT...
I can still feel the pain after 40 yrs, im still having episodes of this horrible thing, and feel i was robbed after having my baby as i felt nothing, except tiredness, being overwhelmed, even not wanting her...

Just hope i shant be having this untill i pass away..

I have had problems of "wishing myself dead" though not suicidal...

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anongirl said on 05 June 2011

i had a turbulent childhood with an aggressive stepdad who groomed me sexually and beat my mum for 7 years on a daily basis through this time i saw my mum on antidepressants and suicidal and it burnt a negative connotation of antidepressants in my mind, i swore i would never touch them then whilst studying at uni my brother died of cancer when i was 19 and he was 23 i i pushed through and blocked out my feelings to get my degree. since the age of 13 i have been up and down mood wise i took an overdose when i was 15 and also had a complete breakdown when my brother died. i find happiness is an emotion that i never can hold onto for long, i feel it but it soon goes.ive never had counselling and alot of doctors have given me anti-depressants but i never take them scared from the memory of my mother. sometimes i think maybe i need therapy of some sort? but then i tell myself not to be silly and there alot more people worse off than myself. but at the same time im constantly dissatisfied with life. im tired of feeling this way. i feel sorry for the people around me like i should just take myself off to an island where only i have to put up with my miserable self.

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lew82 said on 22 April 2011

So much stigma to beat. I fell ill during my undergrad. degree aged 22 (age 23 graduated after repeat year- more a less top of class) Ended up struggling through interviews, never getting the job.

That fed my poor health further- got grants to do postgrad. training, constantly fell ill during research. Dreading finally starting work (proper work) aged 29 next year (with 3 posgrad. qualifications/one six month contract). So much explaining to do in interviews :(

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missmayhem said on 31 March 2011

WHOCARES I agree there is still a stigma with those who have mental illness but its only us who have the illnesses who see it as the rest of the world sees us through its rose tinted glasses. I've been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression but yet im failing to see how as Ive been living with the condidtion undignosed for 7 years and my daughter is 18 months old, but if thats what they want me to belive and fob me off with then fair enough.

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MM77 said on 06 February 2011

i know how you feel,i am sat up in bed sobbing my heart out,i had a breakdown down over a year ago and spent weeks in hospital,it was horrid,and i don't want to end up back there ever again.
my problem is, i have been told that my depression,could be hormone related i am going through the menopause,but am reluctant to go on hrt,because of the possible side effects and risks,i am pulling my hair out as what to do for the best,meanwhile i am suffering.

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whocares said on 22 January 2011

I am in your situation as was then. I am constantly asking for help. I was told I was borderline Personality dissorder but never told what that meant. Then I was over anxious and then best of all depression. Well which is it and what is it.
Every day is such a struggle and I have to fight so hard not to take my life. I do not care what the NHS says There is still a stigma to mental health

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