Jacquelyne Nakazawa knows how hard it can be to live with depression.
But the 34-year-old discovered a program that, along with medication and counselling, has helped improve her life enormously.
Nakazawa has lived with depression since she was a young teen, but it wasn’t until she was 19, and at the urging of her aunt, a psychiatric nurse, that she sought help.
Cognitive behavioural therapy and a proactive approach to her condition helped but Nakazawa was still struggling.
Her mom told her about Bounce Back, a Canadian Mental Health Association program.
“I went to my family doctor and asked him about the program. I explained I needed extra support… or a change in meds,” says the wife and mother of two young children. “I am familiar with medications taking up to six weeks before there are noticeable changes. I wanted to do something else to keep my head above water.”
After her doctor put her in touch with a Bounce Back coach in Vernon, Nakazawa began communicating with her via email and telephone.
“We had an initial interview so she could get a sense of where I was starting, how I was feeling and how I was coping with life in general,” she says. “
Nakazawa then received a series of booklets to work through, after discussing the concepts of each one.
“Having the booklets and coach helped to keep me focused on getting better, and I had someone else to be accountable to,” she says.
Nakazawa says her coach was very knowledgeable and understanding, and offered practical suggestions.
“I think this is missing when a lot of people go for help,” she says. “My coach, right from the start, helped me put my expectations into perspective. She explained it would take time for situations in my life to start improving.”
Nakazawa says she found something valuable in every book and began to notice small changes happening very quickly, especially in her moods.
“The biggest thing I probably focused on was challenging negative thinking,” she says, noting letting go of some of the goals she had set for herself was difficult, including the belief she should go into nursing, something that would be difficult with young children.
“It was hard to let it go, I had so much identity wrapped up in that. But it was a relief… Now I felt free to make more of a life that suits me, and I am perfectly happy with that.”
Nakazawa says she is more aware of her negative thoughts, and challenges them in order to live in reality, not in the “negative hurricane that lives in her head.”
“By being able to recognize unhelpful thoughts, you can stop the process of cycling back into those negative thoughts about yourself.”
The Bounce Back program is accessible by a referral from a family physician.
Asking for help
There are resources out there to help people struggling with a mental illness or symptoms.
Possible sources of information and inspiration include:
Websites of reputable mental health organizations such as CMHA; books about specific mental health problems; films, videos and audio tapes; courses and workshops offered through community centres, schools and universities; people you admire for their ability to find balance.