Monday, 28 November 2011

Desperate measures

The shock of Gary Speed’s death is the perfect example of how depression works. Outwardly a man with everything; success, talent, love, support, friends and family, money and acclaim. No clues. No fear for his safety. Pure disbelief.

Of course his is one of many suicides over the weekend but his high profile in the British media casts more light that usual upon this death, and the manner of it.
And once again makes people who have never suffered, or felt any urge that the world, and the people in it, would be better off without them, screw their brows in consternation.

It is one of those things that cannot be described to those free of depression.
The weight, the feeling of utter contempt for oneself, the sureness that you are ruining the lives of those around you. Your total USELESSNESS. The belief that your mental state is adversely affecting the very people you want to protect from your depression.

The cycle is truly vicious.

I have tried to deal with my particular form of the illness in my own way, but the more you understand it the more you realise that these are patterns that are replicated in so many other lives.

The need to close off from everyone and everything. Draw the curtains, ignore the phone, the post, the knock at the door. Withdrawal. Then comes the paralysis of action. A complete exhaustion that renders the sufferer unable to function properly, even for the simplest task. Anyway, the suffering of depression has its many forms, I wont list them here, it is pointless, only those who know, know.

Instead let’s look at one of the key issues raised by Gary Speed’s death. That no-one knew. Everything he had achieved, everything he had in life he did with the real man hidden from view. This is the experience of so many sufferers. We must not, can not, open up to other people, it is the pure evil nature of depression that when in the midst of it you will not tell people to avoid worrying them. And once it has past, be it a day, three, a week, a month, your brain comes out fighting and you hope and HAVE to believe that it will not return. Or at the very least revisit a long, long time it the future, when maybe you have learnt to deal with it better. Yes, next time you’ll see it coming and hide it even better than the last time.

Of course we understand the absurdity of being depressed in a time and place where we have more than any human beings have ever had; living longer, more affluent, safer, healthier, there should be nothing to worry about right?

Right. Yet another reason for the guilt and silence. We have no right to be depressed. We are spoiled brats moaning about how awful life is when we should be living the dream of consumerism and enjoying the vac-packed green beans flown directly from Kenya for our stir fry. The ridiculousness and irony of the illness is more than apparent.

So many geniuses and brilliant people are, or were depressive – many are sadly no longer with us because they could not go on with the pain they carried around.. You don’t need me to google them for you, but the list is long and sad and sobering.
My own life has been affected by the suicide of my Dad’s father when my Dad was 15. The ripples still float out and reach people he never even knew would exist.

Recently we have had insight into crushing depression from Stephen Fry amongst others. But the stigma remains.

So the next time a friend doesn’t return your text message, or ignores your calls, or you want to tell them ‘everyone gets down sometimes’, or ‘pull yourself together’ or ‘just get on with it’ maybe they need a little less judgement and a touch more understanding.

And maybe we can help create an environment where both men and women can articulate their desperation without fear. Maybe the desperate silence can be avoided if more ears are open. And maybe less families will have to go through the numbing, sickening loss and grief that Gary Speed’s family are experiencing right now.
Love, respect and peace to you all.

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