Some lovely responses to my recent post on depression. Makes me think there’s a lot of it about. People struggling with the bleak, the sad, the greyness. I do feel though, that the more we talk about depression, the more its shame and stigma are chipped at. Only this morning I was talking to a friend who said that her mate’s brother had tried to hang himself. Shocked, I asked if she’d talked to him. “Oh no – I wouldn’t know what to say.” Well did anyone talk to this man? “Erm . . apparently nobody realised anything was wrong. He seemed to be ok.” What the fuck does that mean? Seemed ok? It was particularly hard for this man because he came from a family where talking about your feelings, much less mentioning that you felt sad, was unequivocal proof that you were a big poof. I found myself scribbling down the number of The Samaritans “They don’t offer advice, they don’t tell you what do to,” I said. “They just listen.” Which they do. And they’ve saved many lives.
She took the piece of paper and I hope she gives it to him. It’s shocking that we live in a culture where a man can’t ask for help, or admit he can’t cope without feeling less of a man. Follow that line of thought to its ultimate end and you’ve got men who shoot their entire family and burn the house down.
But I felt the clouds lift a little in the past few days. I bundled up the first half of my novel and sent it off to a literary agent, and tried to work my way through the massive pile of reading I have to do for this Open University course I’m teaching. Went to Milton Keynes at the weekend for a OU Induction Course. (Ever been to Milton Keynes? Don’t bother.) I stayed at the Hilton Milton which featured a delicious tropical swimming pool, nestled in lush greenery on the website, but when I actually went swimming there on Saturday morning, looked more like the place where the Remedial Swimming class go to splash with the OAP’s. But the induction was fun. You can always tell the teachers of Creative Writing – they generally have hennaed hair and bright, swirly scarves. “You get a lot of nutters on this course” said one stalwart OU teacher. “What, teaching or learning?” I asked nervously. “Oh both!” she said cheerfully. “Most of them think they’re going to be Ernest Hemingway after doing a writing course. They are in terms of the alcohol but not the talent.”
But apparently the only course which attracts a higher proportion of nutters is the psychology course.