Depression is one of those terrible illnesses we handle so badly.
Mental illness is sadly still tabooed, and it is only when we hear about those who can no longer live with their tortured minds and commit suicide, like Germany’s famous goalkeeper Robert Enke, or the beautiful Korean model Daul Kim, that this difficult issue is publicly debated.
But what can be done to help those suffering from depression, those poor, helpless souls who would rather be anywhere instead of plummeting deeper their dark abyss?
These were two young and talented people who seemingly had it all with their successful careers. But they couldn’t cope with their depression, like countless others. Their fame and fortune couldn’t save them.
Tragically, even when you work in the profession, it seems little help is at hand, as this poignant letter in today’s Times describes, written by the bereaved father of a man who was severely depressed:
Sir, Your leading article (“Working minds”, Nov 23) about the need for depression to be accepted in the workplace has particular resonance for my wife and me because we lost our son to a severe depressive illness in 2005. He was a clinical psychologist, but as his illness developed he was desperate to keep it secret from all the mental health professionals who knew him or might have contact with him in the future. He insisted that his career depended on this because there was a strong prejudice in the profession against anyone who had suffered from mental illness: they were perceived as not “tough enough” for the job.
We found this hard to believe — the mental health profession seemed the last place on earth where such attitudes were likely to be found — but we were assured by others that it was so. Not only did this worry add to the burden of an already terrifying illness, whose features are so accurately and movingly described by Giles Andreae in times2, but it made our son reluctant to seek treatment and, when he did seek it, prevented him from making use of good local facilities that might have helped him. The treatment which he did accept was unsatisfactory and, in the end, unavailing.
Surely it is clear that someone who survives a depressive illness is enhanced rather than diminished by the experience, and that the insight which results may be of advantage, particularly in the field of mental health.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Our favorite irascible media tyrant is in the news once again, and once again it’s time for me to bring you a story of doing one thing while wishing for another.More here
In a November 6th interview, Sky News Australia’s David Speers spent about 35 minutes with the CEO of NewsCorp, Rupert Murdoch; the conversation covering topics as diverse as software piracy, world economics, the role of Fox News (and Fox NewsPinion©) in American politics, a strange defense of Glenn Beck, and, not very long afterwards, an even stranger defense of immigration.
We have heard a lot about the…how can I put this politely…challenges Murdoch seems to face associating factual reality with his reality, and we could have lots of fun going through his factual misstatements—but instead, I want to take on one specific issue today:
Rupert Murdoch says he hates it when people steal his content from the Internet to draw readers to their sites…which is funny, if you think about it, because he has no problem at all stealing my content (and lots of yours, as well) for his sites.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Another installment in the occasional Friday Pub Juke Box series.
In my post on Monday I said that, on the whole, I believe that the collapse of the Eastern Bloc was a good thing. That's not to say that there weren't winners and losers though. I don't often agree with Seumas Milne but he makes some good points here. The experiment in bandit capitalism which followed the break up of the Soviet Union was a disaster. Replacing apparatchiks with oligarchs is not what Russian and east European dissidents died and went to prison for.
So today's juke box reflects the opposing views of 1989. The first is the optimistic "Winds of Change" from Germany's Scorpions, which became the unofficial anthem of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Inevitably, they were playing it on Monday evening in Berlin.
The second is the less well known and much more pessimistic Lurhstaap from Britain's New Model Army. Written in 1989, Lurhstaap warned that 'these changing winds can grow cold and hostile'. The lyrics might seem eerily prescient to those who feel they were robbed after 1989.
And in the shadows of the crowded square, a thousand paper deals go down
And hungry sharks from everywhere smell the blood and head for town
I like both tracks, which perhaps reflects the mixed feelings I had then and still have now. On the whole, I'm glad communism collapsed but we really missed an opportunity afterwards.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
"Many famous people have viewed your Blog - which is somewhat infamous because of your irritating inane comments on other peoples blogs, over the last 400 posts - and if you had just once written something insightful, moving, witty, clever, sexy, charming or funny you would have been at least been mentioned in The Guardian or The Sunday Times as they are desperate for copy. But as you are a boring tit, you have squandered this opportunity by writing such complete inconsequential shit!" My friend Mr Beast confided this in me over a pint of his favourite port, tequila and sheep milk at my 400th post blog party last weekend. I am afraid he was rather in his cups, as we say in the South, and there was a distinctly unhealthy sweaty sheen to his skin.
However, my whip thin friend Giles a.k.a Lady Ga-Ga seemed also determined to bury the knife deep. He went on and on about how my tedious interest in Supermarkets and toothache was enough to drive a Nun to suicide (which I once did - but thats another story!) and that 'I should welcome the comfort of obscurity' - odd turn of phrase if you ask me.
Much more great stuff here.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
So here I am, writing my thesis about how domestic terror attacks are made foreign in the media, when this happens. Some (probably not very articulate) musings:
- I've been studying these kinds events for almost two years now, and after writing three papers on the subject and reading thousands of news articles and transcripts (which, I should mention, have driven me back into the arms of reality TV, if only for my own sanity), one big trend I'm noticing is that after one high-profile event (a major school shooting or an attack like the one on Fort Hood) there is almost always another attack, if not several more attacks, within a week. There were weeks in 2007 and 2008 when there were 3-4 shootings. Then none for months. The day after the Fort Hood attack there was a major rampage shooting in Orlando.
Anyway, I think the copycat phenomenon is alive and well.
- Articles like this one annoy me to no end. All of a sudden, the military is "rethinking" Muslim soldiers? Really? Because William Kreutzer, ANOTHER soldier who opened fire on a military base, was a Christian... and so was Sgt. John Russell of the recent Camp Liberty shootings... to name two. But did those shootings somehow force the military to rethink Christian soldiers? No.
- The Fort Hood shooter was as American as I am. Relatively recent immigrant roots, but born here. Raised here. If someone with my ethnic and religious background (Italian, European, Christian, Protestant) committed this kind of attack, how would the narrative be different? I know it would be. I'm just more interested than ever in finishing my thesis. The topic has suddenly become more relevant than it was last week.