From Hell to Happiness: Rose's Story

BY DI WESTAWAY | CEO and Founder of Wild Women On Top

Rose tried to end her life 3 times. The chemical imbalance in her brain kept her bedridden in a psychiatric hospital for months. Family suffering, her secret agony.

The black dog of depression, which started after the birth of her third child, had her firmly in its grip. It refused to let go.

Nearly 25 years of medication; the ongoing quest for the perfect cocktail of drugs to bring happiness; failure; her nightmarish secret; the family shame of endogenous depression.

Rose speaks out for the first time, keen to share her story to help other women. Excited to tell the world she’s better.  A brave act with unimaginable consequences for friends and family who either don’t know; don’t want to know; or don’t want others to know.

Then, she backtracks. She wonders: Who’s going to read the story? Who’s going to find out? Who’s going to be upset? We agree to change her name to protect those she loves.

I hope you understand her decision and learn from her story. She is a Wild Women On Top; she is many Wild Women. She is many Women.

Unlike other diseases, mental illness is still a hideous family secret for many Australians. Every year, around 6% of all adult Australians, up to 3 million people are affected by a depressive illness (Source: BeyondBlue); 18 million scripts are written for anti-depressants, for people like Rose.

But there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise, nature and social engagement provide a great alternative to drugs. A quick Google search throws up millions of links: a large body of evidence showing that exercise in nature is a great benefit for many people with depression. Walking is a winner.

Australian actor Garry Macdonald famously kept his depression under control by walking 30 minutes a day.  A review of current literature related to the link between exercise and depression are supportive of the anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and mood-enhancing effects of exercise programs.

Walking in nature can help control depression.    

But Rose discovered walking with women. After 25 years of medication, after being incorrectly diagnosed Bi-polar, after taking medication that made things worse for her, she found her own solution. The doctors never prescribed exercise.

Rose stopped taking anti-depressants. “Exercise outdoors has been a very powerful tool – I found that happiness hormone really kicks in,” she said. “Getting into nature, the bush is really amazing. I feel on such a high.”

Then she did Sydney Coastrek with her Wild Women friends. “Doing Coastrek was amazing. My family found a new respect for me.”

“When I crossed the 50 km finish line, my daughter and grand kids were there to cheer me on … it was amazing. They’re so proud of me.”

And instead of texting “What’s for dinner?,” my husband now says “YOU are my hero.”

There is no doubt: Wild Women On Top transforms lives…but not just those of our members.  We all want to be heroes in our families.

Wild Women On Top helped to transform Rose’s life, AND Rose is transforming the lives of those around her. She chose her own anti-depressant and dose: she chose exercise.  When we look after ourselves, everybody wins.

We can take responsibility for our health, walk with women in nature and achieve extraordinary goals, getting and sharing happiness along the way. Or not.
The choice is OURS.

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