Verity Cast, 39, of Russell Island, has cast a net over depression with the release of a therapy journal entitled Challenging the Black Dog: A Creative Outlet for Tackling Depression.
Ms Cast said she drew on her own experiences with depression to create the journal and had input and advice from visiting island psychologist Travis Gee in proofing the final work.
The journal includes quotes, mazes, art exercises, opportunities for journaling and prompts to help people aged 15 to 25 deal with depression. It is an eclectic array of proven therapy techniques including narrative and music, art/creative and cognitive behavioural therapies and mindfulness. The journal also provides trigger and mood logs, mental health resource lists, and stress-relieving colouring pages.
“I have dealt with depression since I was a teenager and I have had an amount of therapy. It disturbs me that depression seems to be more prevalent in young people and I thought that as a person who has ‘been there, done that’, I could give advice and some exercise therapy,” Ms Cast said.
Ms Cast said her best advice was for people to take from the book what worked and ignore what didn’t.
Ms Cast said she believed her personal encounter with depression was genetic, and started when her family moved to the Middle East for seven years.
“I carried a gas mask to school. I think it started because of culture shock and changing schools and being away from family,” she said.
“I have dealt with depression since then and was ultimately diagnosed with bipolar. I couldn’t always afford a therapist, so I’ve looked at ways to manage, including changing my diet. I decided to put everything in a book to help young people,” she said.
Ms Cast quoted statistics where less than 30 per centof teenagers got help, even though 80 per cent of sufferers could be successfully treated.
“This is mainly because, even in 2018, barriers to receiving adequate care remain, including a lack of resources, lack of understanding about depression, and the social stigma associated with mental disorders.”
The journal aims to provide a safe, private place for people with depression to get to know their personal ‘black dog’ and transform themselves into an active participant in their journey towards recovery.
Ms Cast said she hoped that the journal, which was designed and written to be much more personal than many therapy workbooks currently on the market, would help encourage more young adults to feel comfortable in being pro-active with their mental health, even if they can’t immediately access other medical interventions.
“Over the years mental illness has cost me financial security, education opportunities, employment stability, a marriage, friends, my self-esteem, and on occasion almost my life,” she said.
“I hope to make a positive difference in the lives of young people with depression and help spare them some of the intense mental pain and isolation that comes from not always being able to find or access the appropriate help early enough.”
Ms Cast currently home schools her daughter, aged 12. She is also working on other journals to be released in 2019. They are on self harm and self esteem.
Challenging the Black Dog: A Creative Outlet for Tackling Depression (RRP$24.99, 234 pages, paperback, ISBN: 978-0-6482474-0-1) is available through Amazon and other online bookstores. More on offbeatbrains.com.