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Depression story a warning for Christmas

22 DECEMBER 2004

The story of depression and loneliness felt by a successful businesswoman is told in a new display at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra - serving as a timely reminder of depression during the festive season.

Melbourne woman Ingrid Ozols' story is the latest addition to the National Museum's Eternity gallery, where the personal stories of 50 ordinary and extraordinary Australians are told under emotional themes - including loneliness - that speak directly to people's real experiences.

Ingrid is chair of blueVoices, the consumer and carer arm of beyondblue: the national depression initiative, and she urges people to be aware of the stresses often associated with Christmas.

Ingrid said the festive season is full of extremes - tinsel, baubles, presents, parties, holidays, too much food, too much alcohol, too much family and too much of a good thing.

"It isn't always festive for everyone and can be a stressful and lonely time, particularly with upset routines for people with mental health problems. It's crucial for all of us to involve them while realising it might be hard for them to take part and to manage family conflict," she said.

"Usually a typical extrovert, I have it all: a loving partner and daughter. But so many people and families are touched with depression and anxiety disorders."

"All too often people don't know where to turn. By sharing and reaching out to each other non-judgmentally, we can help heal aching souls."

"I run a rewarding business and lead a full social life rich with friendships. Sometimes though, an unexpected, uninvited, all-consuming dark cloud descends and I become the butterfly caught in the spider's web."

National Museum curator Sophie Jensen said Ingrid's story is illustrated with a drawing by Family and Community Services Minister Kay Patterson, who depicted a butterfly in a spider's web, while listening to Ingrid at a parliamentary breakfast.

"The butterfly is a recurring theme in Ingrid's description of her depression," Sophie said. "Ingrid speaks passionately about the loneliness she felt as the child of a parent with mental illness, her own battle with depression and - inspirationally - about reaching out to other people with depression and anxiety."

For information on depression and anxiety disorders visit www.beyondblue.org.au or call Life Line on 13 11 14.

For interviews with Sophie or Ingrid please contact the Museum's public affairs director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au