Two years ago I came out and came clean about my personal experiences of depression. The confession lifted the burden of secrecy from my shoulders and I made a commitment that I would continue to talk openly and honestly about my experiences in the hope that it will help others do the same and gradually whittle away at the stigma that still accompanies any mention of mental illness.
With this in mind I agreed to do an interview for the Daily Mail which was published yesterday. Overall, despite some minor inaccuracies, poor assumptions made by the journalists who interviewed me and some ill-chosen and emotive language, I was comfortable with the article and I was interested to read some of the many feedback comments that the article generated.
The responses vary from measured and balanced comments to rash and angry remarks and it highlights how easy it is to read an article like this, which is merely a condensed version of all the interviews which took place, without the benefit of knowing exactly what was said and come to the wrong conclusion. Therein lies a conflict of interest. Idealist I may be but I think that the journalist has a responsibility to present the information in such a way that the story is told correctly, accurately and without bias. In short a balanced approach is preferred. A balanced approach however doesn’t sell papers and inevitably there are compromises, hence the emotive language and definite slant to the article. I can cope with this as any informed reader will realise these limitations and look through what has been written to consider the stories behind the story but I do worry that some readers take the view that depression is treated “lightly” in the article which cannot be further from the truth.
I am pleased that people read the article and made the effort to comment. Any discussion about mental illness has to be good and helps to bring the topic out in the open, breaking down barriers and encouraging those with the illness to seek help without fear of reprisals.
Depression is a complex illness. People are complex beings. Put the two together and you can see straight away that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the illness but there are a number of options available to those who do suffer from depression and these should be explored with your GP as soon as possible. There is a strong link between seeking help early and recovery, so don’t leave it too long before seeking help. Not all GPs hand out anti-depressants as the first resort and, going back to the Daily Mail article, I was not “scathing” about GPs who do. I understand that GPs have their limitations and not all of them take an interest in mental health issues. More education and training about mental illness and its treatment should be available for professional health practitioners and more funding should be made available for talking treatments which would give GPs further options to offer their patients.
Sadly, we are talking money and this is in short supply.
But that’s another story.
When I decided to talk openly about my challenges with depression I received a mixed reaction from friends and acquaintances. But the comments that I appreciate most are the ones where someone shares their relief that they are not alone. I am always puzzled by the isolating feeling of depression when so many others are challenged by it. I am thankful for the therapy I had and it wasn’t just talking about my life but looking at things with a new perspective and learning life skills that I should have learned as a child but didn’t. Thank you for speaking up and sharing your experience.
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