A Life threatening Illness.

Wednesday February 3, 2016

Isn't it time we stopped pretending?

Depression can and does kill.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

It kills a lot of women too – but the fact is that over 75% of all suicide deaths are men.

4,624 of them last year.

Oh, and just to clear something up; yes, more women than men attempt suicide. The men just seem to be more successful at it.

I'd like to say that I am uniquely qualified to write this blog as I lost a father to suicide in 1967, I lost an uncle to suicide in 2008, I lost another friend just last year.

But I'm sadly not unique, or even particularly unusual.

And I'm surely not the only one here, or even in the minority reading this, who has done more than flirted with that precipice, who has thought about it. I have not just wanted to die, I have actively planned my death. Quite a few times. Somehow, by the grace of God. Or just because I procrastinated that one extra day that allowed for healing, I'm still here, writing this.

And I'd never want my mother to know how close I've come or how many times.

So I want this to be a bit of a wake-up call for us. We need to take our illness seriously. And we need to make others take our illness more seriously.

My forty year old neighbour has cancer. It's for the second time of asking and she's facing a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and then radiotherapy. We're all putting a brave face on it. We're all expressing interest in her treatment, planning how we can help out the family while she's going through it. We're thinking positive thoughts. But you know what? Behind it all is the thought "Oh, what a tragedy it would be if she doesn't make it. For that family to lose a wife and mother so young..."

Because we take cancer seriously. These days we'll all talk about it. There's no shame in it.

So for goodness' sake can we please talk about depression? Let's do our research on it. Let's discuss treatments and drugs and recovery rates.

And if we lose someone to this terrible illness, we must not for one moment let that little comment slide past us. You know – the one where people say "I wonder what he can be thinking of, that he felt he had nothing to live for?"

He. Was. Ill. He died from his illness, not through choice, any more than a cancer or a heart disease patient dies through choice. It was not "selfish", it was not a moral failing. It was his (or her) illness.

And I for one would like to see this illness treated with the same respect and given the same funding as cancer. A world where depression was easily diagnosed, treated and cured: how would that be?

A Moodscope member.

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