R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

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R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Team Pathfinder » 21 September 12 10:47 am

Hi all

I have thought long and hard before starting this post but think perhaps by speaking out it might make a difference to someone and if only one person is helped then it will be worth it.

Many of you have met Ian and I as we have travelled around Australia Geocaching, swapping Pathtags etc. Most think I am a happy go lucky, easy going person I am sure and a lot of the time I am but I also have an illness. I am bipolar and suffer bouts of depression - I have spent much of my adult life with this illness and over the past ten or so years have worked hard to empower myself to live with it. It isn't easy at times and I really can't believe that my wonderful husband has stayed with me and been my rock in my darkest hours, I will be forever thankful to him for that.

OK if you have read this far you want to know what this has to do with geocaching eh? Getting out and about helps depression, exercise and change of focus can lift a down time, maybe not much but often just enough for me to be able to begin to see a smaill spark of light that will start me fighting to come back on track. I am sure that may others that suffer depression will tell you the same thing. Isolation feeds depression, inclusion starts to starve it. Forums like this one helps me feel included, gives me a chance to join in and OK I don't often make a difference but you are all very happy to let me have my two bobs worth without knocking me back and I thank all of you.

Our geographical location has often meant we haven't been able to find many geocaches but we have been able to hide them and that brings me to your logs. If you ever wonder whether you should bother writing about your experience at a particular cache and opted for the TFTC log think again. Whilst some caches are unremarkable there are many that are deserving of a log and your logs are read by me and really appreciated. Some gloomy days I will go to one of our caches online logs and sit and read and it makes me smile sharing your experiences. Maybe something to think about next time you log - you may well be lifting someones spirit.

If you suffer with depression please know you are not alone - reach out to your fellow geocachers. It is a long hard road to becoming well but it is a road worth travelling.

thanks all
Sue

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Dvixen » 21 September 12 11:33 am

Kind words and smiles ALWAYS make a difference. You've always had them ready in bucketfuls.

For that I am grateful.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Just a cacher » 21 September 12 12:23 pm

Thank you, Sue.

I feel that you are very brave to say all that.

I suffer from depression also, and that is why I started geocaching.

Thank you!

Wendy

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Team Pathfinder » 21 September 12 12:47 pm

Thanks and I say that very sincerely.

I may take a while to pen a reply that isn't because I aren't reading your messages and appreciating your thoughts. I take a while because this is a very sensitive subject and written words can easily be misinterpreted, oh how I wish I had made more effort in English when I was back at school. :D

I am thinking now, and I aren't sure how much I should divulge. Needless to say this thread was inspired by the passing of someone and the thought that perhaps if depression wasn't still so stereotyped and stigmatized (big words for me eh?) then perhaps they would be with us today.

I want to put my hand up and say "hey, you all know me! You like me as I am (I hope) - would you still treat me as you do if you knew what I suffer with? Then I would like you to think next time you are confronted with mental illness and not cast them as the downtrodden of society. Strong words - I apologise if I have offended anyone. Of course I know all of my fellow geocachers here are a lot more compassionate and understanding than that.

I do hope C@W will allow me to place these thoughts here and allow you all to respond. I know it isn't really geocaching related but in a way it is. We are a huge community here and many of us suffer in silence and some of us can't see a way out. By speaking up suffers come to realize they aren't alone, it is one thing seeing the Premier of a state say he suffers depression and quite another to know that someone you know has it too, and probably someone you least suspect.

Cheers all

Sue

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Team Wibble » 21 September 12 2:15 pm

Thankyou, Sue, for your brave words. There is a stigma and misunderstanding and it can make it very difficult to come forward.

I am in complete agreeance that geocaching and the geocaching community can do wonders for those dealing with depression and other mental illnesses.
I have written on these forums before regarding how helpful geocaching was when dealing with long term, debilitating physical illness. Geocaching got me out of the house, gave me a sense of purpose, the opportunity to set goals, socialise, challenge myself and exercise.
What I didn’t mention at the time was that I also suffer from anxiety which was greatly worsened by the physical illness, and when the illness was at its worst, I was also diagnosed with depression. You are certainly not alone, both in suffering from these types of illnesses but in recognising the benefits geocaching and geocachers bring.

I think this discussion is relevant, particularly on a forum such as this, because I think it is also a timely reminder to consider how we communicate with each other online. Often online forums give a sense of anonymity or disconectiveness which can result in people treating others harshly and saying things they wouldn’t say to someone in person. These harsh words can be particularly damaging to someone dealing with depression already. Conversely, depression may result in people using harsh words they wouldn’t if they were feeling more “normal”. And you never know who is dealing with difficult times.

Remember that your words, in a forum, on facebook or in a cache log, have the potential to hurt others. Try to remember that the faceless username is a real person, who may be struggling or fragile, and conversely, try to remember that your words can hurt if you are down or depressed and expressing those feelings via your postings.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Agent Basil » 21 September 12 6:17 pm

Hi Sue, well done on posting those words. I wish I lived a bit closer so I could find your caches and show my appreciation in my logs. I have wrestled with depression and do find getting out into the bush does wonders for recovery. I have become a bit crotchetty of late with my distaste for eclipse tins thrown under bushes but your words have helped remind me not to be negative in my logging of such caches (Note for file - better apologise for some of my logs over the last week :D :D . Long live constructive and entertaining logs ! Attached is a link for a tree climbing cache that I DNF'd a few years back, hope you enjoy !

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx ... efc55fea82

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Bronnie_1990 » 21 September 12 7:35 pm

Congratulations Sue, you are amazing for having the courage to post something like this, i'd never have the guts to do so!

I've been battling depression, for about..5 years now.
Being able to just escape to the great outdoors, and go for a walk, has done wonders. :)

Just reading some of my older logs, you can tell when i've had a 'down' day (or a great day too! :D), so i'll apologize now if i've ever sounded so gloomy/unthankfull in logs..my meds probably havent kicked in ;)

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Agent Basil » 21 September 12 8:03 pm

And good on you Bronnie! Well done !

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Richary » 22 September 12 12:31 am

Sue, Bronnie and others thanks for posting this, and the willingness to come out and say so in front of everyone.

Depression is a horrible insidious thing, it can be long term or short term triggered by certain life events. While I have never bothered getting diagnosed I have been deep in it a couple of times during my life. The first time was pre-geocaching, the second I turned to caching to get me out of the house and doing something I enjoyed. And it can be a hard thing to talk about, as you can be suffering but workmates and friends may not realise it as somehow you can keep putting on a normal face while suffering.

I hadn't considered the impact of seeing a good log on your cache being a positive, though I always try to write something nice on a cache that deserves it. But I can understand how it helps and I do enjoy reading a good positive log on something I have made an effort with. I know when seriously depressed it is the little things that help.

Things are a bit different now I am in a positive relationship, but when single I used to go caching to lift my spirits as well. And Anna has her own problems with OCD/GAD, but we deal with that as well. Thanks again for being so open, and I will try to remember that whoever I am talking to on whatever forum may have issues of their own to deal with, deeper than whatever we are doing there.

Hopefully Karratha will come up next year for a work trip, if so I will try to let you know for a pub dinner or whatever.

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Depression & Geocaching

Post by pjmpjm » 22 September 12 9:13 pm

Team Pathfinder wrote: I have thought long and hard before starting this post but think perhaps by speaking out it might make a difference to someone and if only one person is helped then it will be worth it. If you suffer with depression please know you are not alone - reach out to your fellow geocachers. It is a long hard road to becoming well but it is a road worth travelling.
Thanks for sharing, Sue. Wishing you all the best.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Papa Bear_Left » 23 September 12 12:42 am

MBL is a registered psychologist and a counsellor, so I know about depression from her analytic point of view as well as my own experience.

Like many males in their 40s, I went though a rough patch where I was struggling to find reasons to get out of bed in the morning. There was a vicious cycle with work, which needed initiative and drive to succeed at, and which I had less and less of. That led to falling performance, which depressed me further and left me with even fewer resources. That cycle was ended for me when the company down-sized, then closed the local office I worked in and, after a break, I made a fairly radical career change and haven't looked back since.

One of the things that kept me going in the black days was being theUMP. I could call in sick to work (and did, all too often) but those caches wouldn't publish themselves and I knew that there were eager geocachers just like me, waiting impatiently for that "Your cache has been published" email. Often, all it takes is one small step out of the darkness to set your whole day back on the right path, and the small achievement of clearing the queue was sometimes the spark that got my fire lit again for awhile.

It's OK to be sad when life sucks, when a loved one dies, when a dream moves out of reach, when times get tough. Allow it, deal with the bits you can, then get on with your life.
But when "getting on with it" just seems impossible, and has for what seems like forever, get help. It's out there, if you can just take that first step. Talk to your GP and get an appointment with a good psychologist (and beware that there's all too many that aren't very good...) It can be covered by Medicare, so finances needn't be a huge hurdle. There are things that you can do to turn your life around, if you get the right advice. (Drugs might be part of it, but remember that a crutch is only useful while your broken leg is healing, then you should stop using it!)

Exercise is the 'wonder drug' that everyone seems to be looking for in all the wrong places. Forget Paleo diets and acai berries and all that stuff, just go for a brisk walk every day! As well as helping to prevent heart disease and diabetes and many other physical illnesses, it's also a great remedy for depression.

So, where's those Terrain:3+ caches you've been ignoring?

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Rainbow Spirit » 23 September 12 9:16 am

There have been times in my life when I have felt deeply depressed, fortunately I had friends and outdoor activities that helped me out of it.

Recently a friend of mine lost a close friend in an accident, and was feeling very low. We were going to go caching but I felt it might have been too insensitive to do so, so close to the tragic event, but his reply was that caching was just the thing to get his mind off his problems. So we went off, and his spirits lifted with the exercise and the conversations we had on the tracks.

Yes caching can be an uplifting experience for all of us, and we are a big family, who are only a keypad away.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by 2max » 23 September 12 10:45 am

Sue, thank you so much for starting this thread. It's really been an enlightening read, and a great support in a raising of hands to show others that they definitely aren't alone. I have crossed paths with 'the black dog' once before and the whole experience, now looking back, scared the cr*p out of me. I came so close to letting it win, but thankfully I had a great doctor, a wonderful husband and at that stage, 2 little ones who were totally dependent on me. That is where I drew my strength from to keep going and I am glad as hell that I found it. Skip forward 15 years and what I learned from the whole experience is to recognise any early warning signs and talk to someone before I let myself get overwhelmed.

Everyone has given some great insight and advice here, and I think that Papa Bear's post really stands out to me as offering excellent advice on how to take that first step. I also agree with Team Wibble about how people need to remember that what they say online can have the potential to hurt others who may be at a low point. The flipside is also true, and what you say may actually lift someones spirits and you may never have realised at the time that what you were typing would make such a big difference.

Sue, I know you're a million miles away on the other side of the country, but if I ever get to Karratha, I really look forward to finding your caches and writing some awesome logs for you. :)
Last edited by 2max on 23 September 12 7:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by Big Matt and Shell » 23 September 12 1:17 pm

Thanks Sue for the thread. Very timely for me as I have just lost a friend to depression.

Thanks for speaking up.

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Re: R U OK - Depression & Geocaching.

Post by The Silver Snitch » 24 September 12 1:10 am

I seldom have time to come to the forums and did so today for another reason....but saw this first and ...I just have to comment.

Caching has saved my soul and my sanity!

In the past few years I simply do not know WHAT I would have done had I not been introduced to this absolutely wonderful sport.

People have different things that can and do cause them to buckle. For me it has been the enormous and constant worry of aging parents whose health, both mental and physical, was failing and...who, for most of this time, lived a lengthy distance from me. I also had/ have a young family. There were so many times where I travelled two hours up and back with a toddler in tow, (at one point up to 5 times a fortnight),...and had to be back in time to collect school children. When my daughter had major spinal surgery, it provided a distraction and new friends who took me caching during that time. When life's struggles just do not let up...but continue for months or years and show no signs of abating, people's emotional resilience can flag. THAT for me is where caching has just saved my soul!

Caching was like a holiday for my brain! Brains simply are not that good, (thankfully), at deeply concentrating on two things at once. I found while I was caching I just didn't worry! It worked like nothing else did! I could read the same page on a book 5 times and not know what it said...as my mind kept straying...but NOT when I cached. It didn't matter that I did it alone- I was doing something I loved! AND I was outside in the sunshine and fresh air!

Sadly, I lost my Mum earlier this year and my darling father lost his soul mate! The need to support him is now greater than ever. I took considerable time off and during that time we drove and talked-- and I cached the drive bys.

Yep, caching has been a rope that I have often used to pull me through.
I consider myself incredibly lucky. I can't do anywhere near as much caching as my heart desires, but it has introduced me to some wonderful people and has strengthened friendships from old.

It was a brave statement you made. Caching, provides for so many-- you see the scouts, the 4WD trails, (she says in envy), the amazing puzzles, the events, the dinners the collectors-- really does provide for everyone in so many multifaceted ways! I am glad I found this sport and I am glad that unlike a traditional sport, I don't have to drop it just because I can't do as much as I want to, or even as much as everyone else. It is kind like that....there waiting for you to come and play, as much or as little, or as hard or as easy as you need or want. \:D/

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