JANUARY marks the start of another year gone by.
It's usually time when we all feel really full and fat; our livers are sluggish because as we do every year we have just drunk way too much!
January is also the month where most of us say enough is enough.
We make all sorts of promises to ourselves that this year we will eat better, drink less and exercise more.
We promise ourselves and our families we won't work as hard, we'll spend less money and save more dollars.
Rarely on our list do we promise ourselves we are going to try to be nicer to ourselves and others.
Rarely do we ever say - this year I'm going to try to be a better person and give back to others.
Rarely ever do we commit to consciously looking out for friends and family for underlying signs of struggle or depression.
So many friends and family I caught up with over the holiday period had mentioned that 2012 was a really tough year for them - both personally and professionally - but during the year hadn't mentioned they were having a tough run. How had I missed it? Surely I wasn't the only one?
When the going gets tough, sometimes we don't know how to handle it.
We don't know where to turn. We think people will not understand and think we are "soft" or "looney" so we don't talk to anyone about it.
The 'she'll be right, mate' attitude is just throwing a nanna rug over the real issues. But what we all too quickly forget is that depression has all sorts of starting points.
Too many times it goes unnoticed and then it becomes harder to get control of it. Signs of depression are:
- Stewing over things.
- Feeling more vulnerable - thinking something bad is going to happen.
- Being self-critical and hard on yourself.
- Feeling guilty about things in your life.
- Find nothing cheers you up.
- Feeling distant from others.
- Changes in sleep patterns - either not enough sleep or too much sleep.
- Reduced or absent sex drive.
- Lowered energy or reduced motivation.
- Less ability to control emotions - anxiety, irritability, anger.
If you, or anyone you know has any of these symptoms, then there's a chance it may be depression and help may be needed.
Confidential help lines are set up with charities like beyondblue.com.au where you can call for free and just talk to someone.
Nobody but you and they need to know! You may think they won't have a clue about your situation and that they can't help - but you won't know until you try.
You'll be surprised by their experience!
So this year, I ask you, to keep an eye on your friends and family.
If you notice their behaviour is changing or they seem to be withdrawing, don't ignore it.
Find a way to talk to them, even if it's just a hand on their shoulder and a "wanna chat mate?"
This year, show them that you care. Don't wait until it's too late!