Guy Baker’s road into depression was fraught with drinking (which masked his symptoms), difficulty sleeping and two incidents of self-harm that left him shaken.

That is when he was sure that something was wrong. He sought knowledge online and then advice from his family doctor who diagnosed his depression.

Initially Guy had no intention of talking about his depression with those outside his family, as he was afraid of what they might think and say.

But then he decided to tell his story in the Gisborne Herald as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

And because the medication he was prescribed was affecting his performance at work in the mornings, he thought that sharing his story in the staff newsletter the day before the newspaper article would be appropriate.

A pleasant surprise

He was pleasantly surprised by peoples’ reactions. “I received 22 internal emails - all supportive and congratulating me on my bravery.”

“When the article appeared in the evening Herald, my phone was busy the following morning with people ringing and saying they didn’t realise what I was going through.

“The support I received was amazing. People spoke about their own and their families’ experiences of mental illness. I never expected the level of support I received.”

Relief and positivity

Guy says that every call, email and Facebook message he’s received has been positive and given him a great sense of relief and confidence in sharing his experiences.

He sees value in being able to talk to a professional or someone else you trust about how you feel, but acknowledges that sharing your experience is a very personal decision.

He also advises those who are that trusted person to keep your friend or family member’s confidence, be there for them and ride with them on the journey because it is not an easy one.

“Sharing my story with others is hard, but if doing that extends a hand towards someone who might be struggling with their own issues and helps them overcome that dark tunnel, I am happy to do it,” Guy says. “Things are a hell of a lot better now.”