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.”