People like us

Australian’s living with depression

We all live with depression in some way – either having it personally or having a family member, friend or work colleague who has it. Supporting someone who is going through major depression can be very difficult – our families and friends live with depression too!

Here we share some of the well known Australian’s who live with depression personally and / or through supporting family with depression, as well as some articles written by, and / or about, ‘people like us’.

Australian People Like Us

Depression is an illness that can affect anyone, anytime. It does not discriminate!

Here we have a (very incomplete) list of well known Australians who have, or have had, depression, or have lived with depression through someone close to them… with a little information about them and their experiences.

See our list of International People Like Us to learn about famous people from around the world who have had depression.


WELL-KNOWN AUSTRALIANS

Bev Aisbett – Author of “Taming The Black Dog” and other well known books.

Diana Bliss – Internationally renown theatre producer and wife of Alan Bond

Barcroft Boake – Author – ‘Where The Dead Men Lie’

Darius Boyd – Fullback for the Newcastle Knights

Adam Boland – TV Producer for channels 7 and 10, Author.

John Bowe – Australian Motor Sport Legend

Debra ByrneSinger/actress/entertainer, autobiography entitled ‘Not Quite Ripe’

Neil Cole – Victorian Politician and Playwright. Inaugural Director of the original depressioNet!

Su Cruickshank – Entertainer

Edward Fernon – Olympian, who’s mother suffers depression.

Adam Lindsay Gordon – Poet/Writer

Craig Hamilton – Radio Presenter / Broadcaster

Jonathon Hay – AFL player to return to Langwarrin FC

Mitch Clark – AFL player from Melbourne FC

P. J. Hogan – Movie Director, Muriel’s Wedding and Mental which is based on his personal experience.

Leah Hudson – TV Presenter

Natalie ImbrugliaActor/singer

Bill Leak – Cartoonist. (Links to a radio interview)

Garry MacDonald – Actor

John McGrath – Inaugural Chair, Mental Health Council of Australia, former MP, ‘Carer’.

Matthew Mitcham – Olympic Diver

Cory Paterson – NRL Footballer, Newcastle Knights Player

Ben Pobjie – Writer, Comedian and Poet

Mark Priestley – Actor

Andrew Robb AO – Politician

Ruby Rose – DJ, Model and Television Presenter

Jessica Rowe – Television News Presenter

Magda Szubanski – Comedian and Actor

Petrea Thomas – Olympic Swimmer

Ian Thorpe – Olympic Swimmer

Nathan Thompson Australian Football League player for Hawthorn and North Melbourne, talks about his battle with depression and how he got through it. Produced by beyond blue. Stories of Hope and Recovery DVD

Travis Tuck – Aussie Rules Hawthorn Football Player

Adriana Xenides – Game Show Hostess


Books by or about peoples’ struggles and successes overcoming depression or manic depression:

  • Ted Turner: founded and runs CNN, and married to Jane Fonda.His book, “It Ain’t as Easy as It Looks”, includes discussion of his use of Lithium and struggles with manic depression.
  • Patty Duke’s “A Brilliant Madness – Living with manic-depressive illness”.

These are two good examples of books that can inspire. Let us know if you have any others!

International People Like Us

Here we list famous people from around the world who have, or have had, depression.  We are continually adding to this list, and also including a little more information about each person as we find it.  Please let us know of any other famous people who live with depression that are not yet listed here… or if you know where we can find more information on those listed!


  • Lionel Aldridge – Football Player
  • Buzz Aldrin – Astronaut
  • Maria Bamford – US Comedian
  • Syd Barrett – of the band Pink Floyd
  • Ludwig von Beethoven – composer
  • Russell Brand – Comedian
  • Lord Byron – Poet
  • Cher – actress / entertainer
  • Winston Churchill – English Prime Minister
  • John Cleese – actor best known for his role as Basil Fawlty in the series, Fawlty Towers, and Monty Python.
  • Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) – soldier, statesman and Lord Protector of England (1652-1658) after he declined the crown after Charles I was beheaded in 1649 during the Civil War.
  • Jefferson Davis – President of the Confederate States of America
  • Ellen DeGeneres – Talk Show Host
  • Charles Dickens – Author
  • Patty Duke – Actress
  • Carrie Fisher – Actress
  • Peter Green – Guitarist for Fleetwood Mac
  • John Hamm – Actor/Director
  • Ernest Hemingway – 1954 Nobel Laureate in Literature
  • Linda Hamilton – Actress – The Terminator
  • Sir Julian Huxley – Depression is described in his autobiography
  • T. H. Huxley – Zoologist
  • Kay Jamison – Professor of Psychiatry/Author
  • John Keats – poet
  • Marion Keys – Irish Novelist
  • Vivien Leigh – actress
  • Primo Levi – Jewish – Italian Writer
  • Meriwether Lewis – Explorer
  • Abraham Lincoln – American President
  • Mary Todd Lincoln – wife of Abraham Lincoln
  • Demi Lovato – Singer/Actress and Youth Mental Health Ambassador
  • Michelangelo – Artist
  • Spike Milligan – Actor / Comedian
  • John Nash – Mathematician / Nobel Prize Winner
  • Isaac Newton – Physicist
  • Vaclav Nijinsky – Famous Russian Dancer
  • Rosie O’Donnell – Actress/Comedian
  • Marie Osmond – Singer, Entertainer, Author
  • Matthew Perry – Actor
  • Sylvia Plath – poet
  • Edgar Allan Poe – writer
  • Ezra Pound – poet
  • Paul Robeson – Actor and Singer
  • General Sherman – Army Commander
  • William Styron – Writer/Author of Darkness Visible:a memoir of madness
  • Karen Thodsen – Author of ‘View from the bottom of the well’
  • Ted Turner – Founded and runs CNN
  • Vincent Van Gogh – painter
  • Evelyn Waugh – English writer and novelist, probably best known for Brideshead Revisited
  • Lewis Wolpert – British Embryologist
  • Virginia Woolf – a major British novelist, essayist, and critic
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones – Actress
  • Andrew ‘Freddy’ Flintoff – British Cricketer and Actor

My experience of depression

Understanding Depression

People often ask “What is the difference between the illness that is ‘depression’ and the healthy experience of feeling depressed?” Unfortunately there is no simple, easy answer to this question.

One way to explain it is…

Feeling depressed is a healthy reaction to an external life event or situation, whereas ‘depression’ is when these feelings are out of proportion to external life events and/or continue longer than a healthy recovery period. Usually the ‘depressed’ feelings are far stronger with depression than we experience when ‘depression’ isn’t present.

We all know the feeling of being down. Here we provide an insight into what it is like to have depression by sharing the descriptions from people with different experiences of depression in the hope that it will help others to better understand what it is to live with depression.

Please send us your understanding of what depression is so we can share it with others here.

Confronting Depression” – An article discussing general symptoms and signs.


Stories of Recovery & Hope

One of the worst aspects of depression, is that it drains all hope, any sense that things, that life, can ever get better.  It continually tells us that this pain will never end, that there is no hope, that life will always be this way, that we will always feel this way.

This is just not true!

Depression is a treatable illness!

With effective treatment, the vast majority of people can, and will recover.   Some of us have chronic depression that will need to be managed long term, and we can live without the depression impacting on our daily lives, without experiencing the symptoms of depression.

We have started this new section of ‘Our Stories’  to gather together our stories of hope and inspiration sent in by those who have been through the fires of hell and emerged to live healthy, happy and full lives.

People Like Us - a dNet Newsletter Article

The following article was originally written for the depressioNet Newsletter in October 2000, and is still relevant today!

“Our initial healing may take place in our therapies or medications, but the final stage of the journey is ours and ours alone. Yet before this can happen we invariably need to turn to people like us for support and encouragement, not to mention for the occasional swift kick in the pants.”

– John McManamy, lawyer, journalist, writer and depression sufferer

This quote is from an article titled “People Like Us”, written by John McManamy of Suite101. In this article McManamy reviews the book Transforming Madness, written by Jay Neugeboren, and details what in America is now a rapidly-growing consumer-survivor movement: of people like us helping people like us.

Australians are also coming to appreciate the incredible healing power of support from people like us who understand what it is to suffer from depression.

In the few short months that depressioNet.com.au has been ‘live’ it is becoming evident that not only do we need to turn to people like us during the later stages of healing, but there are many of us who need the support and encouragement of people like us even to begin the healing process.

In a society in which there is still a heavy stigma attached to mental illness, it can be an enormous step for many just to accept they suffer depression, and then another major challenge to reach out for help.  Being able to communicate with other people who know what it is to suffer depression and can truly empathise can be the catalyst needed to take those first tentative steps towards seeking professional help.

Depression is one of the most isolating illnesses there is. This is not only due to the social stigma associated with depression, but also the nature of depression means we often isolate ourselves, pushing family and friends away and withdrawing from social activities.  With confidence and motivation at an all-time low, it can be impossible to explain the experience of depression to someone who has never been there.  There is often an immediate sense of relief in hearing others speak about emotions and feelings that we have been unable to verbalise.

And it is not just the recipient of the support who benefits, there is a definite healing power in providing support for other depression sufferers.

People at the depths of despair and hopelessness are often pulled from their self-focus by a cry for help.  Real empathy and understanding make us step away from our own misery for a while to take the hand of another who is trying desperately to hang on.  At a time when we are feeling hopeless, helpless and useless, unable to function in our own world, we find that we do have value in reaching out to other people who are experiencing those same feelings and are lost and alone.

Those who find reaching out for help a major step are soon encouraging and congratulating others who take the same step, providing comfort and support and finding their own value and strength in doing so. On the brink of utter despair one week, we are pulling someone else back from the edge the next. As stated in Transforming Madness, “When people are able to help somebody else’s process of recovery, feelings of self-confidence and value replace need and pathology.” “…feelings of trust and the ability to stay connected can diminish the need for external intervention and emergency treatment.”

The vicious downward spiral of depression is well known. The less motivated and confident we are, the less we do and the worse we feel.

However there is another, positive, cycle that is appearing within depressioNet.  We reach out and receive support and understanding, and in doing so find a new self-confidence and value – an upward cycle of giving and receiving understanding and encouragement.

And so the negative cycle of depression holds within it a very positive cycle that raises us all a few rungs higher on the ladder out of the well of darkness.  All that is needed is the opportunity for us to reach each other.

depressioNet was born from the need to fill a gap that exists between the Australian people and the work that the government and health care profession are doing to improve the quality and quantity of the research into depression and services that are available for sufferers.  But the people who visit depressioNet.com.au have made it more than that.

depressioNet is an oasis for Australian depression sufferers, and their families and friends, to come for help from each other, for encouragement and support, to be reassured, to be less alone on the journey to recovery.

Here we can be anonymous in the ‘real’ world and yet so very well known and understood on a deeper, more essential level.  We can be honest and open, speaking about our greatest fears and deepest feelings without fear of judgement or prejudice.  Here there is no shame.

In the words of Neugeboren, “There’s no shame in having a psychiatric condition or caring for another person who has one. Take away shame and anything’s possible.”

By Leanne
Founder, depressioNet


NOTE:  In line with our not-for-profit, deductible gift recipient charity status, the new dNet is now using www.depressioNet.org.au.

The same philosophy and integrity, vision. purpose and aims apply to the new dNet as did with the original depressioNet – with one extra element…

In addition to providing “a comprehensive online resource for 24 hour information, help and support for people like us – Australians living with depression”, the new dNet also provides “the opportunity for all Australians to contribute to reducing the impact of depression through contributing to providing the depressioNet.org.au website and services”

People Like Us - A Poem by Emby

People Like Us

Days can feel as dark as the night
Nothing seems to work out right
You want to change the way you feel
But inside is where we strive to heal

If we stay together and try to reach out our hand
We just might find a lost soul who will understand
Try and wipe away the years of mistrust
And find there are more People like us

Mental illness is so hard to explain
A killer of a conversation we hear once again
But when there is nothing else to discuss
I hope you too will find People like us

If you look real hard you’ll see it’s true
That we honestly are not that different than you
We have an illness that is covered in dust
But it touches so many People like us

All we want is to open our hearts
Stop the isolation and begin to trust
That this illness is something worthy to discuss
Amongst our friends and People like us
– By Emby
11th July 2011