I’ve had depression now for the best part of 15 years. In that time, I’ve managed to do my job to the best of my abilities. Some might say I’m rather good at it. I work with nitric acid, cyanide and a multitude of sharp and dangerous tools that could not only harm myself, but those around me.
I drive every day. I have never deliberately crashed my car into anyone else. A lot of people reading this have been in my car on a regular basis, including my close family, especially my kids. Nobody has ever said they wouldn’t get in the car with me because I suffer from mental illness.
The author Matt Haig made a wonderful point last night:
” Mental health is an everyone issue. We are all on a scale. Pilots could all have heart attacks. Should we ban people with hearts?”
How true. Depression is an illness. People who suffer from a multitude of illnesses are responsible for millions of people each and every day. Should we prevent all of those who have an illness from working? Or is just those with depression we’re all afraid of? Because if it is, with one in four of us having a mental illness, our country ain’t gonna get very far.
But please don’t take this as an endorsement for horror. What happened in the Alps is an unspeakable tragedy, an unthinkable and appalling situation that has left a multitude of families bereft of loved ones and bereaved beyond belief.
I will not, and never will, pass judgement until all the facts are known. I will not leap to conclusions, speculate on the unknown or inflict stigma upon those who simply don’t deserve it.
My problem is with the media. The ones who continue to stigmatise those with mental illness with their continual knee-jerk reactions to a situation that was dominated by depression. You can’t simply put everyone in a box. Every case is different and each of us suffer in our own, unique way. Most of us have trouble fighting sleep, never mind anyone else.
When a high profile incident involving depression is ongoing, you simply can’t assume that each of us is a danger to society, or that we should be taken away in a loonie wagon to a padded cell for our own and everyone else’s safety. It just can’t work like that.
Isolated tragedies will unfortunately always happen. We’ll never be able to prevent them. But if we stop the stigma, blame and oversimplification of complex illnesses and scenarios, then maybe we can make it easier for people to ask for help, rather than commit dreadful atrocities with devastating consequences.
We owe it to ourselves, our families or those who are maybe potential victims. Let’s start dealing with it in the right way rather than pushing people further into the darkness.
It’s bleak enough in there already.