Having suffered from depression, it now seems for most of my life (I didn't know what it was that was wrong with me as a child/teen although I knew there was something) I can honestly say that the internet has changed my life in such a positive way, more than I ever thought possible!
My first diagnosed depression was in my mid-20's only I was so ill by the time I was diagnosed, it was a very long and drawn-out process of finding the right medication for me, coupled with intensive counselling that ended up lasting quite a few years, before I felt well again. I had absolutely no support from my GP whatsoever, all they did was continue to sign my repeat prescription every month without question (was that really helping me?). After over 6 years (and lots of different nasty side-effects) I plucked up the courage to stop taking my meds and try and do without, which worked for a long time, until I was hit with another life tragedy which brought the depression back, stronger than ever.
The internet in this case made things a million times easier for me, since I was able to blog anonymously about my deepest and darkest thoughts, and get them out of my system. The greatest thing was that what I thought were deep and dark thoughts, actually turned out to be what a lot of other people in the same position as me were thinking! I had no idea! This took the whole element of guilty thoughts and worries away from me! I was not alone in my suffering anymore, somebody really understood!
One of the first things I do when I'm depressed is isolate myself; from my friends, family and everyone else. I can't answer the phone, I can't speak to people and then I can't leave the house. Whereas in the 90's I literally sat at home alone and stared at the tv for weeks on end waiting for my meds to kick in, now I can get online and speak to people way before I get to that point. I really do feel as if it has saved my life and that there is hope now that I may never get that low again, since there's always someone out there willing to talk to me, share their experiences and help me through.
Now all of a sudden I'm not the only one suffering and we can all help each other, what a privilege! I can now turn my previous experiences into a positive by helping others, this is a gift which I use as much as I possibly can.
I'm now a volunteer telephone support worker/internet forum moderator/group manager and I love it! The internet puts people from all over the world together (no matter what age, sexuality, religion, colour, sex) who can really help each other and share their experiences, from the comfort of their own homes, whatever time of day or night; that is priceless.
I have made friends with so many like-minded people, all over the world, who have had the same problems in their life and have overcome them. Kindred spirits, friends for life! It has opened up a whole new world to me and I now enjoy travelling extensively visiting my friends and making new, amazing life-experiences to cherish forever, going to gigs all over the place and having a lot of fun! I wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to meet such amazing people had it not been for the internet. It's changed my life for the better in so many ways!
I'm really pleased to see SANE working so hard on promoting their Virtual Dog Campaign; this is exactly the type of thing that will help raise much-needed awareness and hopefully remove the taboo of depression a little, particularly in schools and colleges where children are exposed as much to mental health issues as adults.