Preferred name: David
Age at Interview: 37
Age at diagnosis: 27
Background: David is single and lives with a roommate in a large metropolitan city. He currently volunteers part-time in the mental health sector. David was born in Australia and identifies as having a Caucasian background.
David related being diagnosed with major depression when he was 27 and bipolar disorder II when he was 32. He has tried a variety of medications, and has received counselling and psychotherapy. David sees a GP, a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist and is currently taking medication.
More about David
David remembers experiencing 'mental health symptoms' from childhood, but said for many years he 'bottled things up' as this was what he had witnessed other family members do. He was also 'too intimidated to seek help' as his parents taught at his school and he was worried if he saw the school counsellor this would not be kept confidential.
In his early 20s, David underwent surgery that left him in chronic pain, and his best friend's death in a car accident and the terminal illness of another close friend were difficult losses. Struggling to cope, David consulted his GP who prescribed antidepressants; however, things began to 'break down'. A long-term relationship ended, coping with work became demanding, and he had to give up his 'passion', community theatre.
When he was 27, David was injured in a workplace accident but his Workcover claim was rejected, fundamentally challenging his ideas about 'law and order and right and wrong'. As these were 'such important things' to him, David said he 'couldn't process' what had happened. He started 'losing touch with reality', self-harming, and having thoughts of suicide.
David sought a referral to a private psychiatrist but had to wait 'a period of time' before an appointment. In the meantime he had emergency counselling with Lifeline and a local community mental health service. After being diagnosed with major depression, David experienced several years of 'going back and forth between suicidal feelings and ideationâ€¦ numbing [him]self with various psychotropics, and struggling with addiction to prescription pain killers' before he felt he was 'functioning as [he once] did.'
Five years after his initial diagnosis, David explained that he received a second diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Recently, there has been 'a bit of a question mark' around his diagnoses following additional consultations with other psychiatrists. However, in David's view, 'the label is less important than making sure the appropriate care is there'.
David is currently prescribed an anti-anxiety medication and recently started taking a second medication which he said was indicated for chronic pain as well as mood disorders. David described 'prohibitive' side effects from past medications, including drowsiness, hot flushes, and sweats, which had prevented him from 'living a normal life'. He appreciated having more input into the choice of his current medication, which he finds has 'much less impact' on him in terms of side effects.
David has been seeing his GP for 13 years, and said although they were not friends, they were 'friendly towards each other', which he considers to be important in establishing trust and rapport. He also sees a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and a case manager from a community mental health organisation. David believes 'discussion amongst your care team' is very important and feels he's 'a part of' that collaboration.
During the last three years, with support from health professionals, his mother, his roommate and friends, David has been able to 'get back to the basic foundations of lifeâ€¦ proper food and proper exercise'. He describes his experience as a 'big learning process' and feels his life is more 'meaningful' now. In the future, David would like to work as a mental health peer support worker.