Depression is a debilitating illness. Dorothy Rowe, in the preface to her book, Depression, – The way out of your prison, states: “…… sometimes, suddenly, without apparent reason we feel unbearably sad. The world turns grey, and we taste bitterness in our mouth. We hear an echo of the bell that tolls our passing, and we reach out for a comforting hand, but find ourselves alone. …………. for some of us this experience becomes a ghost whose walls, though invisible, are quite impenetrable.”
It is hard for people to open up about depression still. But I have just read a really interesting article in the Guardian about Graeme Fowler, cricketer and coach, who suffers with depression. His book, Absolutely Foxed, discusses his experience. He has put together a checklist to help players keep a note of their mental health but thinks it is as important to provide a checklist of indicators for team-mates. It is not shameful to have mental health issues, he says. He does not claim to be an expert on mental health.
“It is not me standing up as a clinician and telling them what they need to do,” he says in the book. “It is simply about me sharing what happens to me and how I feel. I welcome such open discussion about depression in society.”
Marcus Trescothick, cricketer, in an interview responding to the question: But “the beast” still lurks inside? “Clearly,” Trescothick nods. “It’s not me. It’s somebody totally different who takes over. I think it always just lies dormant until the anxiety rises up. It’s more an anxiety issue I have, rather than a depression. Of course they’re two sides of the same coin but I can flip into anxiety state very quickly – because my brain doesn’t cope well with anxiety. At the same time you learn how to do all the good things so you can say: ‘OK, let’s get back to normal.”
Graeme Fowler is quoted as having said to his doctor in reply to the question: “Had he thought about suicide?” replied ““No, because I have a nice life. I have a great job, great family, lovely wife. I know all that exists but I can’t get to it. It’s over there and I can’t get there. So am I going to kill myself? The answer is no. But do I wish I was dead? Yes.”
This open sharing about what it is like, and importantly what others might look out for (signs) and how to support a person with depression is relevant to all areas of life. It helps lift the taboo around mental health and hopefully allows sufferers to be more open about their illness. Keeping quiet about the inner turmoil seems to serve only to compound the suffering.
It is good that more and more public figures from various walks of life are opening up about their experiences of, and battles with, depression.