Saturday, 17 July 2010


Here's a description of depression:

When you’re depressed, you stay depressed. Even when you’re ill, you’re still depressed. You’re ill anyway, of course: depression is an illness. But not like any other illness; not like a physical disease. It’s worse. Because when you’re ill, you are ill. You. Ill. There is someone that the illness is attacking. When you’re depressed though, you are depression. There is nothing but depression; there is no-one. That is what you are, forever - depression, desperation, despair. And nothing more.

I've been told (by people who know) that this description pretty well sums up the utter hopelessness of clinical depression, especially the paralysing sense that the disease has completely taken over, even becoming the sufferer in some strange sense.

There's been a lot of discussion lately about mental health in general and depression in particular. Anything that gets such a subject out into the open is to be applauded. Jen (The Madhouse) wrote an especially moving post about her own struggle with depression only yesterday. Public figures like Stephen Fry have had their say, and the list of celebrities with depression contains more than a few surprises and includes names as diverse as Jack Dee, Robbie Williams and Mel C.

And yet the stigma surrounding mental health persists. Thus sufferers have not only to overcome their illness, but also the general prejudice surrounding anything to do with diseases of the mind. I've seen it myself in school: both teenagers in need and teenagers too scared to opt out of the mickey-taking and derision heaped on friends who couldn't take it any more. That was a large part of my motivation in penning my novel, Writing Therapy. The students I taught, like my fictional protagonist, often suddenly disappeared from school for no apparent reason. Rumours circulated; then the truth emerged. And if they returned to school at all it was frequently short-lived, and ended once the whispering and sniggering became too much. But this is not a plug for me or my book. This is a plug for someone doing an epic, coast-to-coast walk this summer raising money for the mental health charity, Mind. Denise and her husband have been training and planning for months, and their aim is to raise money for both the local South Lincolnshire branch of Mind and the national charity.

You can find out more by visiting her blog, Whitefriars Wanderings and Just Giving page. And if you're feeling generous and can donate anything, I'm sure she'd be very grateful. And so, ultimately, will a lot of other people.

Good luck Denise!

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