Beyond the blue……an interview with David Corduff
“ACCEPT WHAT IS
LET GO OF WHAT WAS
HAVE FAITH IN WHAT
David tell me a little about yourself and how you came to comment on my blog?
I had an overriding interest in wellness and mental health and I discovered the blog somewhat accidentally one day. It seemed to resonate with me. So I decided not to hold back but to take the next phase and make contact.
How did you discover the mind body connection and the benefits of mindfulness?
I volunteered after a bout of depression for a course run by Southern Synergy who were attached to Monash University Psychiatric Department. They asked twelve of us to take some medication and another group of twelve not to take any medication of a specific type. Over a 12 month period they monitored how people went on this particular drug. The people who were on the placebo got nothing at all other than the placebo, and people on the drug also got mindfulness as part of their participation . When the course finished they offered those of us that weren’t on the mindfulness path a free introduction to it and catch up courses over time. That is where I discovered mindfulness and very comfortable with the whole concept of it.
With your two bouts of depression what did you experience when looking for an answer?
First thing was a reluctance to tell anybody what I was experiencing. I had a sense that nobody would understand. Depression at the best of times is a lonely place to be. I thought it was exacerbated by having to try to work and carry out normal life activities, but feeling in the pits and not easily coping with standard things such as socialising. I found that very difficult to do. I am a social person and my role in business involves relationships and people. I found I wasn’t at all comfortable trying to do that. That was probably the major thing I experienced during that period of time.
In your opinion is mindfulness only for people with a mental illness or for everyone?
That’s like a Dorothy Dix, it is a 100% for everyone absolutely everybody. I found myself practicing mindfulness without giving it a name. I didn’t realise until I was exposed to a course on Mindfulness Cognitive Therapy that I was doing it by default. It was great to see it being honoured as a legitimate practice. I would counsel everyone to become familiar with mindfulness because that is where you need to be for your own wellbeing.
It must be very rewarding sharing your story with others. Do you find more men are now discussing this issue?
Yes and no, there is still a tremendous stigma attached to mental illness. The work that I do at beyond blue is part of breaking down that stigma and particularly getting guys to talk to somebody or each other. Yes, I think a lot of progress has been made in the last ten years but there is a heck of a long way to go. I have always considered females to have a natural capability to talk to one another to share stuff, to break things down. Guys live a more insula existence and for lots of different reasons can find themselves in a very very dark and lonely place, without feeling they can reach out for help. That’s where some of the agencies like beyond blue come in.
Is mindfulness an integral part of your daily life now?
I guess it is I hadn’t thought of this until the question came. My answer to that is yes. I have little techniques I use on a day to day basis which I remember to do on the run. I don’t necessarily sit quietly somewhere and have a session of mindfulness. But one of my techniques is to do a regular mental stocktake. This can be done driving your car and what it involves is literally going into your head to ask what you had been thinking of in the last half hour or an hour. A lot of us think of a lot of negative things without us realising what we are doing, this is habitual. When you pull yourself up and stop and ask, “ What am I doing now?” I am at the traffic lights my hands are on the steering wheel, that feels tactile, “ what have I just spent the last ten minutes thinking?” If I find I have been mulling over something and catastrophizing I bring myself back to now and say right stop, cut it off and move off to something else. I find that extremely useful for someone who is an anxiety lead person anyway. I ask the question “Can I control what it is that I am worrying about?” Emphasising in my head, and thinking that something I can’t control, which it most often is, then I leave it alone and move on.
David Corduff is a beyond blue ambassador. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness you can seek support from beyond blue on 1300 224 636 or go to the link. http://beyondblue.org.au