Ruth should know, having recovered from her own personal battle with the disease. It wasn’t easy, and at times took her to some dark and scary places. But with the help of her family, colleagues and Mayo Clinic care team, she's got a firm grasp on her symptoms — and feels like she has her life back. Now, she's helping others who may be going through the same struggle by sharing her personal comeback story. "I am a Mayo Clinic success story,” Ruth tells us, adding that it feels “wonderful” to be able to share her success against a disease that some people still have difficulty talking about publically. She’s trying to change that by becoming an advocate for those living with depression and talking freely about her own experiences, sharing what helped her gain control of her symptoms so “I could be myself again and not just a patient with depression. "
Ruth began her patient advocacy work by sharing her story this past spring with members of a Mayo Employee Resource Group for staff who have a disability. "My disability was invisible,” she tells us, adding that “many people struggle with that." She decided it was time to make depression more visible by sharing “my own success and my own ability to recover from the disease."
She's taken that same message to senior and youth groups at local churches, and to those about to enter their retirement years. "Many people when they start their retirements may end up depressed because it's such a big life change," says Ruth, who tailors her message to the needs of each group. For youth groups, that means talking “about the suicide part of depression,” something Ruth says “was also an issue for me."
Regardless of who she's talking to, Ruth says the feedback she's received so far has been the same. "All the feedback has been so positive, and I do believe I am helping others," she says. And for someone who's endured the disease herself, helping others is what it's all about. "I tell everyone I talk to that while depression is not curable, it is treatable," Ruth says. "You will live with it for the rest of your life, but that's not a bad thing. It's just a different thing."
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