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Date: 28/11/11

What Hope?

In response to this very good post by Bob Piper, I gave the following response:

"Of course, we're all just speculating at the moment re. Gary Speed, but it seems a fair hypothesis to assume that he suffered from clinical depression (perhaps even undiagnosed).

"What people tend not to comprehend is that depressives do not go around the whole time with a face as long as High Wycombe and talking like Marvin The Paranoid Android. They can appear to be just as 'normal' as before. Inside, however, it's a different story, and it's one I only came to recognise when I started to suffer from it (a mercifully mild version - so far) at the start of this year. It takes over your whole life in one way or another - you feel in some way completely isolated from experiencing what's around you, and you're unable to take pleasure even in things which would normally give you delight. I've likened it to being inside a whole-body condom: nothing can get out, and nothing can get in (and, of course, you feel a complete prick).

"For those with the more severe forms - and some who are not, on the whole, at that stage - there comes a moment where all rational thought is overcome by an acute desire for the whole thing to go away, with tragic consequences.

"Public understanding of depression - and most other psychiatric conditions - is on the whole very poor, and telling a sufferer to "pick their socks up", or insinuating that they're "putting it on" is not only offensive but dangerous.

"This - and the general stigma in our society regarding mental ill-health (which I believe to be a remnant of the time when people suffering from it were considered to be possessed by demons) - means that the quality, even the availability of treatment is almost random and subject to dominance by one or two prevailing theories or dogmata at any given moment.

"As soon as society in general stops stigmatising those with mental health issues - which may take until those of us who have them stop feeling ashamed of having them and, as it were, embrace our status - then better approaches may come along. Until then, however, there will continue to be lives ruined or destroyed when it need not be so."