A TAMWORTH woman driven to the brink of suicide by crippling depression has credited the social networking site Facebook with saving her life.
Gayle Rastall was plagued by suicidal thoughts following the death of her husband, Peter, two years ago after a long battle with leukaemia.
Stripped of her soul mate and isolated from her friends, for a long time Mrs Rastall could see only a future filled with pain and loneliness.
But about 18 months ago, at the urging of one of her three daughters, she created – somewhat reluctantly – a Facebook page.
Initially using it merely to market her crocheted baby and toddler creations, before long the page evolved into an invaluable link to people with similar experiences.
“Facebook has saved my life,” she said. “I would drive along the road and think it would be very easy to go into a tree.
“But what I found when I started the page was that I was communicating with people and finding that I’m not alone.
“There’s a lot of people who have started up Facebook pages who were in the same boat when their husband passed away.”
Mrs Rastall’s husband served as a forward scout in the Vietnam War and endured prolonged periods of exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange.
The chemical wreaked havoc on his health – two of the couple’s children suffer disabilities – and his war experience left him with severe post-traumatic stress
disorder. As a result of his ill-health, Mr and Mrs Rastall lived a secluded life and were inseparable until his passing.
With few friends to draw support from, Mrs Rastall sunk into a deep depression that lifted a little only once the Facebook page was set up and gave her a purpose.
“It just sort of gave me a reason to get up in the morning,” the 59-year-old said.
“There is a downside to Facebook in that it can take over your life and you don’t get that face-to-face contact.
“But it’s also good to be able to talk to people and sometimes even help them as well. It’s just so nice to talk to people.”
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health problems, contact
Lifeline on 131 114.