Sunday, 10 February 2013

Talking about depression

I'm Greg and I'm melancholic. All right, depressive. I was first diagnosed in 1978,
in circumstances that I'll maybe relate another time, and was prescribed tri-cyclic antidepressants for about 18 months. I've had attacks on and off ever since, but with markedly decreased frequency and reduced duration.

At the time, I didn't tell anyone. I wasn't ashamed. Rather, I didn't want fuss and I didn't want sympathy. I didn't want people to treat me differently though I'm sure they'd have been uniformly kind and understanding. I just wanted the black moods
 to stop and I wanted to feel normal, what ever that was.

I found that three things helped me apart from the green and black pills. First of all, standing in front of a class, trying to explain stuff I knew backwards and didn't
entirely understand why others found hard, forced me to de-centre. Secondly,
exercise, especially long walks, untensed my body and calmed the looping brain.
 And third, pursuing non-work projects with other people again took me out of
myself. In particular, I helped write and record a radio play called "Biggles and the
Day Glo Fokker", with a cast of tens, using bodjo reel to reel and cassette equipment, and BBC sound effect LPs. No it was never broadcast...

Very few of my friends and almost none of my colleagues now know I'm depressive. I'm still not ashamed. I just don't think it's relevant.

However, as  a student mentor and a UCU member supporter, and in the past as an academic manager, I find myself trying to help lots of people who are in crisis, where  reactive or endogenous depression was often at the  root or a complicating factor. So the first thing I tell them is about my own experience,  and that almost always eases their trusting me and my being able to point them at appropriate help.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks very much Greg for this post. We are delighted to have our first guest post - and Greg is now an "author" of this blog so may come back and post anytime.

    I think the explaining thing is interesting: I don't particularly find that but if I can get myself thinking about an interesting problem than can do the trick. And exercise has worked fairly well for me too.

    Also particularly interested in how talking about it can help you help other people.


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