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.
Over the past few weeks I have done a couple of interviews about my experiences of depression for the Sunday Telegraph Stella Magazine and the Daily Mail, neither of which has yet been published as there are clearly far more interesting and worthy news stories around.
The latest scheduled date for Stella is Sunday 21 October, but I’m not holding my breath. The Daily Mail is clearly holding us all in suspense but it will be worth waiting for 🙂
One of the benefits of the Daily Mail adventure was having a make-up artist and photographer come to my house and do a photo shoot. Normally I hate my photo being taken but they both made me feel very relaxed, to the extent that the make-up guy (can’t remember his name 😦 ) drank the bottle of wine that I’d bought to calm ME down and I didn’t notice until he fell out of my front door on his way to his car!
After my make-up was complete and I looked more like Elvira Munster than I cared to, I had a couple of arguments with the guy about what I should wear for the photos;
“No black”- “But my whole wardrobe is black!”
“Nothing jazzy”-” You are telling me that my M&S Per Una cardigans are too jazzy?”
“No low-cut tops showing vast amounts of cleavage”- “I don’t do low-cut tops showing vast amounts of cleavage”
Me; “That dress is too tight”
Him; “Caroline it only has to look good from the front!”
and so it went on until we agreed to disagree and I bowed to his greater experience in these matters.
Way back then, in 1986, I bought a new suit, shoes [black patent with bows as was the vogue] and invested in a smart hairdo for my interview at what is now HMRC in Worcester. I wasn’t at all nervous, I never have been for interviews, and so I arrived at the offices fully prepared and ready for my grilling.
Whilst I had prepared for the interview, what I hadn’t prepared myself for was the huge car crash that took place outside the offices. Waiting in the reception area gathering my thoughts, I was confronted by the noise of a crash right outside the building. Without thinking, I raced outside to see a car upside down on the dual carriageway with its two occupants stranded in the seats and smoke pouring from the back end. I am not a first aider and so rather than try to help the people in the car, I ran back to the offices and demanded that they call an ambulance. Meanwhile, others attended the scene who had more medical experience than me so I returned to reception.
Looking down I saw that my shoes were filthy, covered in mud, as were my tights and skirt from where I had run through the mud. My hair was all over the place and the cup of tea that the receptionist brought me was rattling in the saucer as I tried to pick it up. I was a nervous wreck.
Fortunately, the interview panel knew all about the accident and my attempt at helping and after an hour calming down, I was called into a very successful interview and got the job!