There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in

This post is a post about depression. But an uplifting post about depression, I hope. There has been a lot in the news in the past week about depression and suicide (most recently because of the tragic death of a much-loved sports star). This is an encouraging sign, in one sense. While no-one likes to see or read about these sad stories, it is imperative that they are out there and that people are talking about them.

Depression is not a modern condition in Ireland. It has been with us as a silent killer for many years. But – just as in years past those with learning difficulties were classed as “slow” though we now know they suffer from conditions such as dyslexia or ADHD – so it was with those suffering with mental health problems. These people were “suffering from their nerves” or “a bit touched” and were shunted into the background, so we as a society wouldn’t have to think about how to deal with them. We now know that all these people were – and are – suffering from conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, or associated conditions. That these conditions have been dragged from the cold dark of silence and into the spotlight is due to many brave people who have stood up and spoken about their conditions, despite the stigma that is still attached to them in our supposedly modern 21st century Ireland.

There were a number of reasons why I was moved to write this post at this time. I read three outstanding articles on depression in the past week. It is a testament to the bravery of the people who put them out there that this conversation is taking place so much over such a short period of time.

One was a very moving piece in last Saturday’s The Irish Times about Kate Fitzgerald, who took her own life at the age of twenty-five.

Another – also on Saturday – was a piece posted onto the Twitter site, Twit Longer (a site that allows you to tweet long messages) by the former footballer Stan Collymore.

And the third is by Paul Duggan who wrote in his blog post about what he calls “The Silent Minority”.

I’m not going to attempt to summarise what these articles have said, or try to explain the kind of despair people who suffer from depression go through. I will simply urge you to read the articles and continue the conversation yourselves. The subject of depression must be kept out in the light; it cannot be allowed to be forced back into the dark ever again.

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen


18 thoughts on “There is a crack in everything…that’s how the light gets in

  1. A good post and good links. I think most of us know at least one person suffering from depression. The more we feel able to talk about it openly, the better it’ll be for us all.

  2. Thank you for this post, Derek.

    We are a historically oppressed people, so are mortally scared of appearing weak, because we are used to suppressing our real feelings – back then it was urgently necessary to survive. We have never lost that sense of shame, it is all pervasive, and it’s only when you meet someone from a culture that does not have shame that you realise how noxious the meme is. We are ashamed if we seek medication to help our depression, we talk about it being a “crutch” in disapproving tones (of course it’s a crutch, isn’t that the flipping point of it?) and we disapprove overt displays of open emotion.

    Mental fragility and illness is a condition that many live with and make the most of their lives. It is not a matter of shame. When depression is a known enemy, then it becomes a more manageable one. Rather than claim there’s never a thing wrong with you, antidepressants are for weak people, then pickling your liver to death.

  3. I am so glad you have written this Derek. This is a particularly poignant post for me because my mother has suffered from depression for many years and is constantly on medication. It is difficult for people with depression to escape the suffocating fog that fills their lives and also for their families. Relatives are often at a loss, not knowing how to respond to someone who has lost all hope. It’s only by talking and listening that people get by. My mother has good times and bad. All you can do is let someone know you are there for them. Interesting and thought-provoking. I agree. Depression is a subject that needs to be talked about.

  4. Very thoughtful and clear post Derek. I think it’s vital that we all add to the conversation as you say. Never discussed enough. One of the ways social networks can be used for real good. Those are beautiful Cohen lyrics too:)

  5. This type of post is always important, but especially at this time of the year. While so much of the world decorates and celebrates the holidays, there are so many out there who are suffering. I just posted about a homeless woman I want to help. Unfortunately I haven’t seen her since I wrote her letter, but I’m going to find her. Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling the importance of this too. 🙂

  6. Thanks for posting about this subject, Derek. My parents have a neighbor who was the life of the party when we were kids. We used to watch movies at his house and go on excursions; he was always laughing. Now he hides in his house and rarely comes out. It’s very sad.


  7. Excellent post, and I love the title/verse reminding us that there is always a brighter reality than the one we are focused on. Reminded me of the Switchfoot song, “The Shadow Proves The Sunshine.”

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