My name is Vanessa Philips

and I've been diagnosed as suffering from acute depression.

My first signs of a depression were not sleeping,

lack of appetite, being very edgy,

shouting at my children,

those sort of things, and not being able to cope with daily things,

whereas before I was very good at being a mother and multi-tasking.

What really helped my mental health

was one person showing an interest in me.

The community mental nurse that came to my home

actually firstly listened to me.

I didn't feel as if I was being just seen and ticked off in a box.

I felt that someone was taking interest

in all of my wellbeing, not just my mental health,

my housing, my relationships with people,

my relationships with my family, my children.

She looked at benefits, what benefits might help me,

because I was off work.

No one had looked and addressed any of those needs before,

and that really made a difference.

She also looked at my social exclusion

because I wasn't going out at all and didn't like being around people.

She started off by taking me weekly to a gardening centre

because she knew I had a love of plants.

And she actually encouraged me to go out

and find out more about my own mental wellbeing.

It had to start with me,

so I started to read about mental health and depression,

and I started to realise that food, diet,

played a very big role in mental wellbeing,

also exercise, so I started to address those issues in my life,

to try and get myself as well mentally

as I wanted to be well physically.

The change in my life in the last three years has been remarkable.

I have not only been able to go out every day freely,

also drive, which I didn't do for over ten years,

I have started a self-help support group

for sufferers of depression locally in Cheshunt.

And I've just completed a City & Guilds

Level 2 course at the university in mental health in the community.

If someone came to me now who was suffering from depression,

the first thing I would say to them

is find out as much about your own condition as possible.

You can ask for counselling.

You can go to your local community mental health team

and see what support and help there is there

with the services from the national health.

There are also Mind groups, local support groups

and service user groups.

Just go along to anything that you can find locally.

You'll be surprised. You're not the only one.

So many other people feel the same as you.