Welcome back to my malnourished blog. Today’s entry partly explains why I haven’t written anything in while, only partly though. Much larger factors in my radio silence are The Wire, Halo: Reach and my general laziness. Anyway, today I want to talk about one of the few things that Alastair Campbell and I have in common, to wit, depression.
While I often though of Campbell as a horrible figure during the Blair era, his charity work and the publicity he has brought to mental health issues has gone a long way to redeeming the man in my eyes. I am sure he is very glad of this partial turnaround from a blogger that no-one reads. Anyway, now that we have negotiated the tricky proposition that AC is not entirely a force for evil, we can consider the significance of a man of his stature in politics confessing to having a history of depression- at times severe. Despite what the Janet Street-Porter’s of this world would have you believe, (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1278510/Depression-Its-just-new-trendy-illness.html) depression and other mental illnesses are not the trendy new accessories of the middle classes, they are a problem which affects 1 in 4 people regardless of wealth, race, gender or any other dividing line in society. The attitudes of people like Street-Porter ensure that there is still a huge stigma around mental illness and many people are too frightened of what people will think of them to admit they need help.
In this climate, it is hugely admirable of Campbell to be so candid about his own experiences. The donation of half the proceeds from his new book to mental health charity Rethink is also a fabulous gesture. This is not meant to be a rant against anyone or any problems in society, I do far too much of that on here as it is. This post is more what came to mind during a recent flare-up of my own brand of depression. Like Campbell, I am probably closer to having this thing licked than I ever have been- although such a total victory probably doesn’t exist for depression sufferers. It still flares up from time to time though, without explanation or reason, like the attentions of a selfish lover. When it does, all of the numerous blessings and privileges in my life seem to shrink in the shadow of the dark cloud above them, and me. Society is much more tolerant when dealing with mental illness than it used to be, but those hateful few who still believe that its all put on, or people suffering from mental illness could get better if they ‘chose to’ will never appreciate the crushing weight people feel on their shoulders when they are in the grip of mental illness.
It is hard to know how to round this one off, probably because I didn’t have the luxury of an enemy to structure a diatribe around this time, but I guess all I really wanted to say with this blog entry is that I have a fairly tough week or so. To put my name out there as someone who knows what it is like to have the black dog hump their leg from time to time, so to speak. But also, as someone who is in the fortunate position of knowing that the cloud will pass, some people don’t have that luxury. If there is anyone out there who reads this and wants to talk to someone about a similar experience, please feel free to send me a message on here. Or, for anyone suffering but unsure of where to turn for help, please check out the link below to the Rethink charity. They do excellent work.
Alaistar Campbell’s blog: http://www.alastaircampbell.org/