An article about depression appeared today on the satirical site Waterford Whispers News. As can be expected when anything is written about depression the response will be many and varied, but this one really sparked a conversation because while on the face of it it’s making light of depression and taking the piss it also raises some really valid points. (I should point out that I think it unlikely there’s deliberate offence meant to anyone with depression, they take the piss out of EVERYTHING. And then some. That said, if you’re a sensitive soul, probably best to pretend the site doesn’t exist.)
The piece is short, to the point, and absolutely hits the nail on the head about what it’s like to be in the depths of depression and unable to talk about it. You should really take a look at the whole piece, but I think this extract sums it up perfectly:
‘The young man began his now-daily internal monologue upon waking, and continued throughout the day. Ranging from deep-rooted anxieties to dark discussions about the point of living anymore, the thoughts running through the popular twenty-something’s mind failed to emerge as words due to the lack of anyone available to listen.’
That’s it, in a nutshell. That’s depression. I don’t find the manner in which it’s written offensive or deregatory in any way. I’ve often talked about the power of language, and how I think the way in which depression and other mental health issues are spoken of actually fuel the stigma around it. The term ‘suffering from depression’ is a particular bugbear. We need more conversation like this. I know it will offend some people. I know there are those who think it is in poor taste. Me? I see this as a huge step forward in normalising conversations about mental health. When we reach a point where we’re comfortable in making jokes about something, in my view at least, it means we’re that much closer to accepting it. Language and (highly irreverant) humour has certainly played a big part in the conversations I’ve had with family and friends, because at times it’s the only defence we have left to stop depression from becoming all encompassing. I’m heartened to see that many readers took it in the spirit that was intended, and even if one or twenty did miss the point entirely, they’re still talking about it, and that’s a step forward.
I’ve taken this comment from the site, by someone called Kevin O’Connor. He puts it far better than I can –
‘This biting satire speaks more to me than a hundred well-intentioned, repetitive articles in the Irish Times about how we need to open up about our feelings. The closer to the bone it gets the better it is.’