“Wherever you are, at any moment, try and find something beautiful.
A face, a line out of a poem, the clouds out of a window, some graffiti, a wind farm.
Beauty cleans the mind.”
~ Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive
I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone. Not a soul. Not even Mr Trump, our current fave love-to-hate nemesis, or the slug that just anhilated all my geraniums.
Depression is baaaaad. Jaw-droppingly, bone crushingly bad. Winston Churchill once called it the ‘black dog’,(1) Stephen Fry talks about the ‘morbid seriousness'(2) of it and Robbie Williams, our fave boybander, has said of depression:
‘I’ve got a disease that wants to kill me, and it’s in my head'(3)
It’s an unseen disease, and not a topic many feel comfortable talking about (along with many other mental health issues). News reports of high-profile suicides bounce it into people’s view, bringing with it a few days of rigorous discussion on the whys and wherefores and ‘oh what could’ve been dones’ and ‘oh isn’t it awfuls’. We even have Mental Health Awareness weeks now and hashtags on Twitter. But ultimately, it still ends up scurrying back to its hiding place as a taboo subject: ‘You’ll be alright mate. Chin up, might never happen! Pint?’ is often the best we can manage.
Depression is a killer, just like a thousand other diseases. Those who die from suicide are no less or more deserving of empathy, compassion and a listening ear than those that die of any other awful disease, are they? Yet sufferers are treated very differently, and for one glaring reason: mental health issues scare the sh*te out of us.
We need to seriously get over it.
The number of people with mental health issues has been steadily on the increase, and a shift in attitude could be a game changer.
If we’re brave, if we confront it; learn about it, talk about it, lean into the discomfort of it, we can understand it better. Then, we are much more likely to be able to help those around us who are suffering. We can make a difference. Being scared of depression is pointless. It’s a bit like being scared of the moon: not looking at it won’t make it any smaller and it ain’t going anywhere any time soon.
So lets TALK. Lets READ. Lets FIND our courage. Reading just one book could mean you say the right thing one day to the right person and a whole destiny shifts. Don’t believe me? You’d be surprised, even just a hug or a smile at the right time can save a life.
Depression Top Reads
Matt Haig wrote all about his experience of depression and coming out of it in this book: ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’. A must read for anyone with mental health issues.
Andrew Solomon won acclaim for his book: ‘The Noonday Demon: An Atlast of Depression’ for not only telling his own story, but also that of other sufferers, as well as the perspective of doctors, scientists and policymakers.
James Rhodes is well known classical pianist who is brutally honest with his mental health issues in his books: ‘Instrumental’ and ‘Fire on All Sides’.
Stephen Chbosky’s novel: ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ is written from the perspective of a 15 year old boy struggling with isolation growing up and is a doorway into the teenage mind.
Paolo Coelho’s novel: ‘Veronika Decides to Die’ is an account of a suicide attempt for someone who, on the outside, appeared to have ‘everything’ anyone would ever want.