“It is now more than 30 years since my visitor paid his first call, and he still comes to stay every now and then.I wish he wouldn’t, because he’s the very worst kind of guest. It makes no difference to him whether I’m happy or sad, weighed down by problems or fine; he turns up anyway, uninvited and unwelcome, and plunges me into a deep depression. I don’t know why he’s a ‘he’ or why he comes to suck away my joy and drain the colour from my life. All I know is that I hate having him around”
So begins the introduction to Denise Welch’s book The Unwelcome Visitor, which I ordered recently. I heard Denise speaking on the radio, and was captivated by her story, (or what there was time for on the radio programme anyway) and decided it was a book I wanted to read. She seemed to say it as it is, I reflected, and so I wanted to hear what further angles she perhaps had on depression.
Back in the early seventies, it was neither as talked about, by celebrities, intellectuals or people in general, or as known about. I perceived it to be something of a source of shame even. The pull-yourself-together attitude was rife, and nobody in their right mind, in my opinion, opened up to people at large, family & friends, work colleagues, to say that they were suffering from depression. If even they identified what they were feeling as being depression! At first, I thought I was going mad. Delusions, such as thinking I was turning into a man (based on what I now know was almost certainly body dysmorphia) beset me, and I simply clammed up, for fear of being locked up. And planned an escape route for myself, suicide.
Thank goodness times have changed since that September of 1970!
Some people express the opinion that there is too much talk about depression and mental health, mostly the same people who have never experienced it!?
What do you think?
If you are in your twenties or thirties, do you see depression as an open topic? Is there still a grain of shame attached to it?
And if you are nearer 70 than 60, as I am, do you observe great strides in the area of mental health, or are we still in the (relative) dark ages?
I would be interested to hear your views.
And in case you’re wondering... NO, I am not a relative, or publisher of Denise Welch’s book!! Just an interested onlooker who happened to hear her speaking on Radio 4!
A Moodscope member.
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