A medical technician who has learnt how to live with depression and anxiety took part in a sponsored skydive recently to support the charity which has helped her.
Ruth McCauley, who works at Craigavon Area Hospital, successfully completed the hair-raising feat on behalf of mental health charity Aware NI.
The 33-year-old, an officer with Edenderry Girls’ Brigade, was diagnosed with depression and anxiety seven years ago, but with the help and support of her GP, the hospital and organisations such as Aware NI she has learnt strategies to cope.
She said, “I am feeling pretty good at the moment but you do have dips and when you are in the middle of it, you can think it is never going to get any better. I know it’s a cliche, but things do get better.
“More people are open about depression now, with government initiatives and different celebrities talking about it. It is good that people feel they can be open.
“You learn to recognise the signs and the people who know you, such as your family and friends, are able to see them too and support you. My work have been very good too.
“You learn strategies to cope, and you get through.”
Looking back, she believes she also suffered depressive episodes while she was at school and university but did not recognise what they were.
Her diagnosis eventually came when her stress levels built up and “came to a head”.
Ruth found support from Aware NI’s email and telephone support line, and the group also holds support meetings every other Tuesday in Brownlow Hub at 7.30 and in Dobbin Street Community Centre, Armagh every other Wednesday at 7.30pm.
She said, “I think it is important for people to realise that they can come through it and can do exactly what they did before, and that there are other people and groups out there who can help.”
Ruth signed up for the skydive as part of Aware NI’s 20th anniversary celebrations and has so far raised £2,045.
She completed the jump at 13,000ft (two-and-a-half miles) in tandem with an instructor at the Wild Geese site in Garvagh, with the event organised by Moonjumper.
Despite never having done anything similar before, Ruth took it all in her stride, and was not as nervous as feared. She has thanked everyone who supported her in any way.
Ruth’s GB company will also be providing the refreshments at the finals of the GB tag rugby competition in Belfast on November 25, with proceeds going to Aware NI. Any contributions of snacks such as traybakes, crisps, chocolate, soft drinks from local companies would be much appreciated.
Aware NI is the only mental health charity in Northern Ireland working exclusively for those with depression and bipolar disorder.