I thought the Irish would be the last to speak about mental illness-I thought they were a ‘keeping it to themselves’ people. Last night I did a live interview in a theatre for a large audience and during question and answer there were no questions only a large number of brave souls standing up to tell their stories because maybe they’re too ashamed to tell their friends or families. But here in the darkness one woman stood up and confessed she had both cancer and then depression and the depression was far worse. With visible signs like loss of hair you get sympathy, with depression no one wants to know and if they find out they tell you to ‘snap out of it’. To me this is like slapping someone with Alzheimer’s to buck up and remember what happened yesterday. Another woman stood up to confess she’s terrified that she passed her disease to her daughter. Another says their kid is suffering from the stress of exams and he’s scared she’s going to do something drastic. (In Ireland there are twice as many suicides for young people). Everyone wants to talk in the dark and spill his or her stories because we have no other place to talk. Again I harp on that we should have walk-in centres similar to AA where the 1 in 4 can talk drugs, symptoms and bitch together to unload the shame. (It’s healing to unleash rather than hunker in a hole in fear of being caught with something mental).
They thank me at the end but I should thank them for being brave enough to come out of the darkness so the rest of us don’t feel so alone.