Suzi Founder of dealingwithdepression.co.uk Wife + mother to 3 amazing young people. Advocate for mental health and disability

Patient Leader

I founded www.dealingwithdepression.co.uk (known with fondness as DWD) with a friend after my husband had a breakdown and I was left with no help, support or understanding. I learnt everything through talking to others with depression and asking them the questions that he wasn't able to answer. I searched the internet looking for help and found some really dark places advocating some really unhealthy coping strategies and knew that it couldn't possibly be only me who was looking for a safe space to talk, to listen, to ask questions and all without judgement. So www.dealingwithdepression.co.uk was born. My husband then bought the whole site for me for my wedding present as he knew how much time I've put in and my friend's sleeping involvement had ended and so I became sole owner. It's my fourth baby and I am so proud of it and what we do. Almost twelve years later and we are still really busy and have a facebook page with over 78.000 people following us. It's huge. It proves that we were right in the beginning and there is a need for a community where you only get understanding. With waiting lists to see counsellors/psychiatrists of up to 3 years in some instances people need to be able to talk. They need to feel validated. We do that. I couldn't do it alone. I'm really lucky to have recruited a team of volunteers for the forum and for the facebook page. We have a laugh, we share the bad things, the dark thoughts, but more importantly in some respects the lighter side of life and we celebrate every positive we can - including in the weekly "Friday Fab 5" Challenge where I challenge our members/followers to find 5 positives in their week. It might be that they've scaled a mountain or a lovely cup of tea - both are equally celebrated. My husband and I have 3 amazing children. One who we've managed to raise to adulthood and we are preparing for him to leave home and go to university in September. They all have different needs - 2 with Aspergers, 1 with allergies and dyslexia and 1 with EDS and thyroid issues. They are all amazing and surprise me every day. We also foster dogs - although we are currently failed fosterers and have 3 rescue dogs who are funny and full of characters. Before my husbands breakdown I taught students who had severe learning difficulties, but my health has deteriorated as I have fibromyalgia, cfs, osteoarthritis and many other physical issues so I work when I can on the forum, the facebook page and doing other bits with a disability group. I've attended pain management courses where we used mindfulness and Tai Chi to help deal with long term chronic pain and illness, so although I don't have depression myself - although did have post natal depression with each of our children - I do have some understandings of living when you don't know how good you are going to be from one day to the next. DWD is open to everyone all over the world, is free to use and is such a positive space. We are open every day of the year and all day and all night. We have members from Ireland, the USA, Holland, Romania, Australia amongst others as well as all over the UK. We never try to take the place of a medical professional and we never offer 1:1 support - we are not trained to do so and we don't have the backup for ourselves. What we do offer is a space where people can talk, share experiences and become part of a community which cares about each member. We know when someone hasn't checked in for a while and we try to check on them. DWD is there not only for those with the mental health diagnosis, but their friends and families makes us unique as we can support anyone involved as we all have our own experiences - either as the patient or the carer or the friend. We have private sections so people can be as anonymous as they need to be as well as having spaces where they can talk away from their loved ones.

Location

Walton On Thames, ENG

Nominations

Best in Show: Facebook Best in Show: Community Lifetime Achievement Patient Leader Hero

Her kindness and understanding has helped so many through the darkest of times. There are people who would not be here if it wasn't for her love and support. She has changed so many lives yet is incredibly humble and doesn't recognise just how amazing she really is.  — Kerry

Over 78,000 members, Suzi and her team post daily, often tips for dealing with poor mental health, advice, healthy coping strategies and words of encouragement  — Kerry

Suzi Founder of dealingwithdepression.co.uk Wife + mother to 3 amazing young people. Advocate for mental health and disability

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