Friday, 21 May 2010

Depression: Apparently it's trendy?

Every so often I think I'm becoming a bit too ready to criticise some areas of the press, after all they're just giving people the information they want, aren't they? But then, right on cue, the Daily Mail shows just what a disgusting rag it is all over again with this monstrosity - Janet Street Porter's column on Depression. First it was Stephen Gately and now this, just how exactly does the Mail choose its columnists, have they signed some kind of pact with the devil?

If you don't fancy reading the whole thing here's a few high(/low)light's:

  • "I find something very repellent about this recent epidemic of middle-class breast-beating. This tidal wave of analysis about why'having it all' isn't what it used to be. [...] Get a grip, girls."
  • "But my life goes on, I haven't retreated under the duvet with a bottle of pills. I refuse to accept this notion that a whole generation of women are being laid low by an unexplained epidemic of depression."
  • [After discussing the issue of depression in men.] "At this point, I'm afraid to say, I laugh out loud. The idea of feeling sorry for a bloke with low self-esteem is frankly, risible. Let's just call it karmic revenge for all those years men have been in charge of everything."
  • I truly believe that illnesses go in and out of fashion - at the moment, trendy women are allegedly suffering from 'depression'

It's nice to know that such an eminently qualified woman - who has doubtless done extensive research into depression - has set us all straight. Her educational establishment appears to be the University of Life, with a major in gut feelings. What doesn't help her cause of course, is that she is wrong.

How dare she belittle such a crippling illness just because she's been fortunate enough never to experience it, how condescending and pompous to assume that because she dealt with tragedies in her life, others should do the same without a fuss.

It seems that she, along with others, imagine that depression is just like being very, very sad. It isn't. Talk to anyone who knows the illness well, be they sufferers or doctors, and they will tell you that depression is a devastating mental illness, one which no amount of Positive Mental Attitude will relieve. It's a mental illness but it has physical effects, once many people get into depression no amount of 'positive thinking' will help, they need professional help. What they do not need is to be told to 'have a brew and you'll be fine'.

People seem to think mental illness is somehow not as serious as physical illness, if its in your head surely you can think yourself better? If there's a problem with someone's mind, it is just as difficult to ask them to 'think it away' as it would be to tell a man with a broken leg to run it off. Doctor's don't prescribe therapy and drugs because it makes their day brighter, they do it because the brain isn't functioning the way it should and until that's corrected it will be very, very difficult to get out of the negative spiral of depression. It isn't severe sadness, it just looks like that.

Don't ever judge how serious a mental illness may or may not be until you experience it first hand with either yourself or someone you're close to.

Oh, and never ever read the Mail if you want serious journalism.

And here's the view from someone in a better position to describe exactly what it's like:


JC Cannings said...

Good post.

Unbiased Opinion. said...

The Daily Mail pains me sometimes. The worst part is that there are probably readers out there with depression who now feel even worse and are less likely to ask for help.