DAVID Hughes, 53, runs the Aware Defeat Depression Support Group in Lisburn and is training to become a qualified counsellor.
He has over 30 years experience of curating, events programming, performing in theatre and avant garde experimental works, making installations and graphic work, writing, editing and publishing art magazines alongside being a senior academic at universities in Nottingham and Hull where he was head of contemporary arts and head of theatre.
In 2002 he descended into a deep and disabling clinical depression and this ended his academic career. In 2005 he moved to Drumbo with his partner and their two young sons to be near family.
After regaining his confidence through writing and painting again and attending support groups David is now on the road to recovery and wants to help others who find themselves in a similar situation.
The Aware Defeat Depression Support Group meets every Thursday evening in TSL House on Bachelor's Walk.
No two days in my week are very much alike. My typical day is very different now compared to when I worked full time as an academic.
I have to say that getting involved with Aware has quite literally been a lifeline for me and it is only now that I am starting to get into a more regular routine.
As well as volunteering on the helpline and leading support groups for Aware, look after my children on the days my partner is working, attend a counselling course and I'm gradually getting back into preparing publications or art exhibition work and uploading new material, onto my website.
My return to something like normal. health was largely to do with Aware Defeat Depression. I started to attend the Lisburn and Finaghy support groups and ended up running the Lisburn group. It really is going from strength to strength and we could really do with another facilitator to help run the group.
On a Thursday evening I meet up with the people who come along to the group. Sometimes there are 10 people and other times there is only one person. The group will last from an hour to an hour and a half. Attending an Aware Support Group brings those people who are burdened with depression into contact with other people just like them. People can talk openly about how they feel to those who really understand depression. In this mutually caring atmosphere, they feel accepted as they are. Confidentiality is a central aspect of, our groups.
The group gives people information about depression and elation, about how it can affect the way they think and fee, and how they relate to others. The problems created by mood changes it relationships, be they at home, at work or in their social life, can then be better understood.
To summarise, the process of the group is essentially there to allow people to give and receive support and improve their coping skills and problem solving by sharing their feelings and experiences.
I spend a lot of time writing and painting as I find that both the activities are very grounding and centring and stabilising. have recently had writing and painting exhibitions in Belfast. I've also started going to a Buddhist meditation meeting on Sunday mornings and that calms and centres me too but I have to be really careful. In order to live my life without too much anxiety and stress I have to make sure I get enough sleep so usually I try and be in bed by 10pm and take naps during the days whenever I can.
If I do have a couple of very busy days find I have to sleep for maybe a whole day to make up for it.
Even though I have perhaps lost a promising academic career it is wonderful to spend so much time with my two brilliant kids and a partner who is certainly the most important element in my return to mental health and recovery
Information about the group and other Aware services can be obtained from the helpline: 084512029611.