(image: screenshot from “Shutting out the Sun” trailer by Sightsphere)
I’m taking a bit of a break from music posts with this one. I’ve decided to get personal. I apologise if this topic is of no interest to you; stay tuned, the music ones will return shortly. I likewise apologise for the length. This is not a trivial topic, so I hope you stick with it. The chances are pretty good that you know someone who suffers from depression, even if you don’t know that they do.
And if you didn’t before, you do now.
The Black Dog
The topic of depression has resurfaced of late in the news, for reasons that are driven by tragedy (as the reasons almost always are, when depression becomes A Topic)…and there have been editorial responses to the intense focus on the background of the Germanwings pilot, which I will link to but not discuss, beyond noting that it is entirely understandable, under the circumstances, that people are anxious to know why a human being could have undertaken such a horrifically deliberate act.
What is more to my point, however, is this: when Robin Williams ended his life last year, there was much the same sudden flare of interest, with lots of blog posts and stories in the media. It was a rather different flavour of hand-wringing of course, because it was a much different kind of tragedy. But amongst all the earnest attempts To Understand and Be Sympathetic were peppered certain questions: (some, regrettably, from people I thought should know better) how could he do this? He had everything, certainly way more than most people. Fame, success; he was beloved, esteemed…the clear implication being that his was the ultimate act of sheer selfishness and disregard.
I am saddened (but not surprised) by that kind of response; it demonstrates that deep down, many people regard depression as a thing of fear and confusion. As much as they express sympathy, shock, regret, there still seems to be the underlying sense that somehow depression (especially this, because on the outside we are not obviously crazy) is a failing, a personality flaw, a weakness of self-discipline. People do want not to stigmatize, at the same time is the need for some kind of explanation. Tragedies like that aren’t supposed to “just happen”.
I get that. That is why I decided to write this post. If that notion has ever crossed your mind…you are mistaken. As Stephen Fry says…”There is no ‘why’ ”. That is not the right question”.
And I will add: if you or your loved ones have never suffered from this terrible thing, then drop to your knees and thank whatever deity, or karmic influence, or genetic luck of the draw, or whatever – for your good fortune. You do not know how lucky you are, and I sincerely hope you never find out.
The Black Dog arrives
This is my story. I can’t claim that my experience encompasses all experiences, it is just mine. If I can provide even a glimmer of understanding by doing this, then my effort will not be a waste. I have suffered from depression twice (arguably three times, it just depends on whether this current episode is a new one or a continuation of the last one, but hey, in the overall scheme of things it’s not like it matters…). This is me, below the fold.