Did you realise this week is Mental Health Awareness Week?
Well for starters go and check out the very excellent Jeremy Vine programme on BBC Radio 2. Each day Jeremy is talking about a different topic, such as self harm, anorexia and bipolar disorder. This particular clip is about depression.
Now I am totally biased because I love BBC Radio 2 and I love Jeremy Vine. I also love a good discussion on Mental Health because it continues to surprise me how little we do, talk or provide for mental health in our society. I mean we ALL have mental health of one kind or another, it’s there whether you like it or not, like your physical health. I get that there’s stigma and shame but for goodness sakes, we know that is only because of a lack of knowledge and an ignorance that stems from not talking about it! We are grown ups in the 21st Century, do hurry up and get with the programme.
(Isn’t it interesting that the Americans are at the forefront of all things psychological? If there is a new way of thinking, new movements in psychotherapy or definitions of behaviours and methods of therapy, you can be sure it probably came from the States. How is it that a nation so routinely derided for being naïve and um, a bit, well child-like, should be pioneers of the human mind? In the word of one famous American*; “Fascinating”.)
Recently it was Depression Awareness Week (I’m sure they were aware of the Mental Health Awareness Week coming up. But are other Awareness Weeks aware of each other at all? Beware Awareness Weeks, before we all start suffering Awareness Fatigue. Oooh, there’s another condition, tick!).
I mention it because of this rather fantastic article which describes depression very well. I’m shocked by the statistic that 97.5% of the population don’t suffer from depression. What? What are they doing? Did they forget to live life? I have always suspected everyone suffers from depression in varying forms and it’s just the more enlightened of us who admit to it. But perhaps it’s true, there are people out there who don’t get depressed. How odd, I think? What could that possibly feel like? Practically everyone I know has had it, or at least a brush with it, in one form or another. Is it because I hang out with creative folk?** Or is it because I subconsciously seek out fellow ‘sufferers’? Perhaps we have some kind of radar that allows us to gather and connect. Not whilst we’re depressed obviously, because that kind of thing becomes impossible (if not downright distressing).
I have issues with the term ‘suffering from’ too, because although there is certainly a degree of suffering involved in feeling depressed, I don’t spend my life ‘suffering.’ I do have depression; like the herpes virus (condition) it’s in my body forever and like a coldsore (symptom) it is apt to pop up when I least expect it, but when I’ve most likely been neglecting my mental/physical health in some way. Unfortunately the only other word I can think of today is ‘afflicted’ and that really won’t do, because it makes me giggle. “I am afflicted by depression.” Hilarious! Although I might join a group calling themselves The Afflicted. Now that does sound romantic.
In any case, sufferer or not, the writer is right that it is a very unattractive condition. Having been both afflicted and in a relationship with someone who became afflicted, I can attest to that. (I hasten to add that we weren’t both afflicted at the same time, that would be weird).
So, mental health. It’s important. Talk about it, find out about it and do yourself a favour – give yourself a little check up. And listen to Jeremy Vine!
*Sorry, not an American, a Vulcan.
**This is of course utter bollocks because anyone can suffer from depression but it’s a rather romantic myth that artistic, creative and funny people suffer more than most, like you have to be mad to be a genius and all that guff.