|Photo: Lars Karlsson|
Now you'll be hard pressed to find me praising Tory politicians but I take my hats off to Charles Walker who, in an effort to break the taboo around speaking about mental health problems, shared his experience of living as 'a fruitcake' with obsessive compulsive disorder and to Sarah Wollaston who disclosed the severity of her bout of post natal depression. Kevan Jones Labour MP who has suffered a bout of depression in the past also joined the debate and in the process showed solidarity with me, a fellow pinko leftie, who has also 'outed' myself about my own mental illness. Without my long term Citalopram I go from being carefree, perky and appreciative of all life has to offer to nihilistic, paranoid, anxious and unproductive in a very short space of time. Blow me how one small white pill can make so much difference but I assure you that it does! I'm absolutely 100% certain that I should openly talk about this to dispel misguided stereotypes about what having mental illness means and demonstrate how, in spite of a diagnosis, I'm living a extraordinarily fulfilling and wonderful life, thank you very much!
It's commonly known that another Conservative MP, Winston Churchill was periodically visited by his own black dog. Now behold I bring you my own inner animal, the hedgehog of depression! He first came to me when I was having a bad day where everything was getting on top of me and represents where I am at the moment - mostly well but with a few blips. After all he's not completely black and it's only his nose that's dark! I have bad days where my mood is lower, I'm more anxious or feel less resourced but hell, don't we all whether we've got a diagnosed mental health problem or not? It's part and parcel of being human to go through good and bad patches and experience a range of feelings. When emotions become fixed for a few weeks might be the time to worry. Even excessive happiness in the face of extreme adversity could be the sign of a problem.
Anyway let's get back to 'Spike'. He's sitting precariously on the side of a hill and, like me, wants to curl up and do nothing. However, if he does this he'll roll down and then it would be super hard to crawl back up to the top of the slope, the place he wants to be. It might even involve outside assistance of others. Being an independent resourceful little chap he, instead, braces himself and reluctantly starts to gingerly climb. In doing that he's can still get out of his predicament by his own efforts and he's got a coat of spines to protect him against other sh*te that's being thrown at him on the way up!