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Date: 05/02/15


Four years ago, I was in what is termed in the contemporary demotic, 'A Bad Place'.

A combination of factors, composed largely of the assholery of one particular individual in a position of power (*) over me, had led to something which may not be sufficiently grand to be called 'a crisis', but which nonetheless led me to the darkest time of my entire life.

After various alarms and excursions - and especially after the removal of the main trigger of the problem - I came through. Not exactly unscathed - the scars and wounds (not literal, I hasten to add) have remained and have coloured my life and my perceptions ever since; not necessarily for the worse, as it led to a greater appreciation of the nature of depression in particular and psychiatric illnesses () in general.

It's still here. It always will be. What I have is, with all the melodramatic capabilities I could possibly bring to bear, only a mild-to-moderate version of the illness. Nowhere near bad enough to require pharmaceutical intervention, and I never got the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy anyway - there is a shocking shortage of such treatment available, and others need it far more than I do. Nowadays, coping with it when it's at its poor worst is do-able because I've managed to develop techniques too grandly to be called 'strategies' for handling it.

Dealing with the problem yourself is one thing, however. Dealing with other people's attitudes to psychiatric illness is another. There is still a stigma attached to it (which I believe is a hangover from the times when the psychiatrically ill were deemed to be possessed by demons) and still an awful lot of mistaken beliefs about the entire range of conditions, from the dangerous (such as not recognising that people with schizophrenia are many times more likely to be harmed by other - supposedly 'normal' - people than they are to harm others themselves) through to the frankly annoying (like depressives being told, "cheer up!", "pull yourself together!", or "you need to shake yourself!").

I decided from the outset that honesty and open-ness were the best policies both from the standpoint of what would work for me and what others needed to know and understand.

And so, on Time to Talk Day 2015, I commend, recommend and applaud the broadcaster Iain Lee for this, which puts it far better than I ever have in far longer pieces here since the dark days of February 2011.

(With thanks to Wings Over Scotland for the link)

(* - never confuse 'power' with 'authority'. There's the famous story of Chesterton explaining the difference thus: "If a rhinoceros were to come into this restaurant right now, I would be the first to accept that he had power. However, I would be just as quick to reassure him that he had no authority whatsoever")

(† - I feel the need to explain why I use that term rather than the more common term 'mental illness'. It's just to do with the associations, that's all. After all, when did you last hear anyone warning off someone with the cry, "You don't wanna have nuffink to do wiv 'im! 'E's psychiatric!"