Home Politics & Debate
Come and join our Support Circle, every Tuesday, 8 - 9:30pm! Anyone is welcome to join. Sign up here
Read the community guidelines before posting ✨

Depression: still a taboo?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I'm sure some of you have seen the Twitterstorm over this.

On Sunday, India Knight wrote a column in the Sunday Times which opens as follows:
Are there people left standing who still believe that depression is "taboo", and that by speaking about their own they are bravely shining a light - "just a little beam, but I do what I can" - into the darkness?

There are two excellent responses to this article. One from Alastair Campbell, and one from Tamsin Crimmens. Both worth reading and sharing.

Like many of you here, I have been struggling with depression for (in my case, 16) years. The diagnoses have varied, but the core issue has continued to be severe depression. I can't just pull my socks up when it's really bad, and I have had to ask my GP to give a different reason on the certificate when I've been signed off because my employer was so unsympathetic ("I'm sure you have your difficulties, but I have a shop to run").

In my experience, a good employer will be good about mental health. That's a positive change, in the past even a good employer wouldn't necessarily have been helpful and the law wouldn't have required them to be. But some progress does not equate to the full removal of stigma.

And if depression is not as stigmatised as once it was, try telling your employer you have a personality disorder...

Comments

  • Starry nightStarry night Incredible Poster Posts: 674
    There is certainly.
    Examples,
    Someone v.close to me suffered severe stroke, was paralysed on the right side for six months. They accused her of faking it purely on the basis that she had clinical depression and had a breakdown years ago. Sh is frequently faced with this allegation for a variety of things despite being seriously ill mentally and physically.
    A breakup in my friendship group involved a girl breaking away stating that my friend who was suffering from depression was going to attack her. My friend has never said something like that and would never hurt a fly. At the time she was barely getting out of bed and would more likely hurt herself than anyone else. Nevertheless, the girl filed a police complaint against her. Also, she spread the word that my friend was a sociopath. All this led to my friend nearly dying from a suicide attempt.
    Whenever I'm sad there's a teacher who always stops me, in front of the class usually and says 'Cheer up, love.' Like it's a lights witch or something. He also made a joke about emo's cutting themselves in front of someone I knew who had plasters and bandages all over her arms and legs, straight from hospital.
    Rant over. Sorry.
    However, of course there are people who are so understanding and helpful. Met a few, wish they could be applauded or something.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Can't see India's article to the full...

    I do feel, at least in the past ten years, that attitudes towards depression have improved and depression is receiving more coverage, partly thanks to celebrities, hard working campaigners and some areas of the media...

    I think for me, the main problem I have had, is people deciding for me what I can and cannot do, or if they piss me off, they use my illness as an excuse.

    I hear a lot of stupid assumptions about mental health all the time. I try to engage with people and I'm open about the majority of my own experiences (not so much psychosis, self-harm, alcohol issues though) because I think that if people can see somebody they respect has it and how well they usually function, I hope it'll make them reconsider a bit.



    Piccolo, I don't think there's a lot of coverage yet about personality disorders? I mean other than some pretty bad media depictions.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think the biggest problem with depression is that it's somewhat commonplace and if you're depressed and a self-harmer or have suicide attempts, some people think you're an attention seeker, even if they never say it to your face. I recall one person, a policeman, saying that he thinks people self-harm and attempt/threaten suicide to get easy access to state benefits like DLA. I don't think he's the only one that thinks like that.

    Personality disorders have a stigma attached to them because they're associated with legit nutters who go around hurting animals/people or worse. I.E. Kieran Stapleton, the dude who shot that Indian student in Salford, I think he was diagnosed with some sort of personality disorder, and I know I might get shit for this, but I've seen a couple of times where people with Borderline PD (and other mental disorders) use their diagnosis to get away with acting like a bitch or cheating on their boyfriends. I'm not saying it's right to stigmatise, but I do think some people use their MH diagnosis to justify being a total knob, and BPD in particular has that reputation.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Yes, I was told at seminary in a pastoral psychology class to "assume that if the person you're talking to has a personality disorder, you're being manipulated". BPD in my case mostly manifests as instability, depression and anxiety, but people just hear "personality disorder" and jump to "dangerous loon".

    I hope I have never used my diagnosis to justify awful behaviour. It might explain it, but it's still my responsibility to make changes/ get treatment to be less of a dick.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    piccolo wrote: »
    Yes, I was told at seminary in a pastoral psychology class to "assume that if the person you're talking to has a personality disorder, you're being manipulated". BPD in my case mostly manifests as instability, depression and anxiety, but people just hear "personality disorder" and jump to "dangerous loon".

    I hope I have never used my diagnosis to justify awful behaviour. It might explain it, but it's still my responsibility to make changes/ get treatment to be less of a dick.

    I don't know a great deal about BPD (though am beingbtested for it with bipolar).... when I read the traits, I thought "that sounds so much like my ex". She said she was a narcissist, but was terrified of rejection and a few times got nasty at me for not responding the right way, or behaving the right way... However, there's an illness and a person and patholigising somebody's negative traits possibly creates stigma in the fist place?

    And here we come on to the annoying thing about these illnesses/idiosyncracies/PDs... often, people see a reaction through the lense of an illness.

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I remember one of my colleagues saying when I came out as mental at work. "No you're not" and I said "not depressed, or not starting on monday because my new work won't have me in the office yet" and she said "Not depressed."
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    In a hypothetical happy-clappy sort of way there isn't taboo. People like Stephen Fry are "out" as depressed, the shelves are full of depression memoirs, everyone seems to be talking about the black dog on their shoulder. Out in India Knight's world there probably isn't much of a taboo.

    But the reality on the shop floor is very different. I'm "out" at work as depressed because my last manager knew about it when she employed me. I'm protected by the Equality Act and things are OK, despite many issues I'm not scared of people knowing I was off for depression. To an extent though that is helped by the type of job I do in the type of organisation I do it in. But I recently applied for a job doing a similar thing at a similar organisation and one of the key person specifications was "emotional resilience", and if that isn't code for "no crazies please" I don't know what is.

    But even then I'm deliberately vague. Depression can mean anything. For me, it is a personality disorder, borderline. One of the reasons I've been given for the failure of my marriage is the BPD. I've never used it as an excuse for anything, but it looks as though others are more than happy to use it as a get out of jail card. I certainly wouldn't disclose my personality disorder widely, although I did tell my colleague (she's just got one of those counsellor personalities) after a beer too many. I don't think it has made a difference.

    The hardest thing, though, is the self-inflicted taboo. Even if nobody else cares, or sees me differently, I see myself differently. So I almost impose a taboo on myself, I must keep this hidden otherwise everyone will see me as I see me, and that makes it easier for others to do the same.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think there's any one overarching, society-wide perception of depression. And as mental health comes in so many flavours and strengths I think even your most hardened of lazy thinkers would find it difficult to tar the whole area with one brush.

    In a volunteering capacity I visit an older gentleman who suffers from severe bi-polar disorder, and during his periods of mania he's a literal drooling mess, utterly incapable of anything that could be recognised as coherent thought. Now, from what I observe, his illness is not a taboo at all: starting with the governmental support he's been receiving since retiring at thirty-something years ago, through all the state sponsored organisations setup with the explicit intention of helping people like him, and continuing on to his family and friends who offer him support daily. There are websites like this populated with tons of sympathetic, understanding people, hosting lists of places you can go to receive help and support for young people. And the plethora of celebrity books with depression as a significant theme. Not forgetting the myriad of medication available via the NHS specifically targeting mental health symptoms. So no, it's not a taboo, not in any real sense of the word - not if we're planning on using the word 'taboo' properly.

    There's plenty of work to be be done in creating a society where being depressed is no more of a burden than suffering from the illness is in itself - I wouldn't fancy telling my work I was signing off due to depression, and I'd imagine my workplace would react more favourably than others I've heard about.

    So no, not a taboo. But a societal work still in progress.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Not a taboo, more a stigma, certainly a complete lack of understanding.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think the lack of understanding for many people is quite a big issue. What might not help is when someone starts complaining about being depressed because they missed their bus or something. Now I'm in no way demeaning anyone with depression or belittling them, however there are people who might just be upset who throw the words "oh im so depressed" around.
Sign In or Register to comment.