You gotta have faith, oh yeah you gotta have faith.
I’ve got to admit my reactions were somewhat neutral upon hearing of the recent death of George Michael. His music played little or no part in my life. But I was always a little intrigued by the status, rightly or wrongly, he had been afforded by the mainstream media.
A talented songwriter/performer/showman, plagued by his demons.
Dope smoking, outspoken, eventually proud of his sexuality, having been forcibly outed by the same papers who helped launch him into the star he undoubtedly became.
His songs seem to have taken up a large portion of the airwaves ever since, coming up on my recommended songs a few times on my phone streaming app, so I started to read back about some of the things that had happened to him.
Some of the things that were big so called news events were titillated red top stories.
Some of the comments made by people on various social media forums, showbiz commentators and keyboard psychologists, amazed me.
“What had he to be depressed about?”
“Brought a lot on himself.”
“No wonder with those antics.”
“Should have known better.”
Moralising bastards of the worst sort, raking through the muck and then complaining about the mess it leaves on their wallpaper.
It’s accepted he liked a joint or five, some people do.
Yeah he got up to stuff that should maybe have been kept behind closed doors, but then most people are guilty of the same.
It’s a known fact he suffered with depression, a lot of people do!
But that doesn’t give anyone the right to pigeon hole him as some sort of “mental case.”
This type of uneducated ignorant dross was being spoken about him during each and all of his numerous breakdowns.
He wasn’t the one who made them public; that was the press, and they did it for sales.
The same, to different extents, could be said for people with similar “public meltdowns” as the gutter press like to call them, in the recent past.
Britney Spears, Kayne West. Further back if you like with Marilyn Monroe, Sigmund Freud, Abraham Lincoln, people of status (correctly or incorrectly whatever your opinion on their achievements or otherwise may be) they are or were in the public eye.
The same blinkered bullshit attitude is why, in my opinion, mental health is still viewed as something stigmatising, despite the protests and objections of professional bodies and the more knowledgeable commentators. It’s viewed as a failing, something you did to yourself.
It’s a “weakness.” A monkey round someone’s neck, something to be ashamed of and hidden away.
Theresa May was speaking yesterday about how she plans to ensure “children and teenagers get the help and support they need and deserve.”
Providing more training for teachers so they know what to do if someone in their class is having or displaying mental health issues; where to point them; to help provide link up.
This of course all sounds very alluring and should be implemented wherever possible, but lumping responsibility for children’s mental health onto teachers is not the answer. We’re missing the point by assuming it needs picked up in school.
In today’s society to be depressed is still a black mark, an unfortunate condition. To those cretins on the right, it’s simply an excuse for people to dodge work, claim benefits and leech the state. You know the types I mean, those who raise their eyebrows and offer their snide, uninformed assumptions and opinions, many of which confuse depression with unhappiness.
This is a world where people, especially children, judge and are judged by how many blue thumbs or other emojis they get on their Fakebook profile statuses. In a world like this, by putting a mass emphasis onto teachers responsibilities, souls risk being lost until matters escalate and things move to the cure rather than prevention or possible mitigation stage.
In addition to that, of course, people need to understand that depression is not just a social, environmental or financial after-effect.
Some people are built chemically different, do not produce the same serotonin, dopamine levels that others do.
I’m neither qualified nor attempting to challenge medical fact, but simple figures now state that around 1 in 8 (675,000) Scots take or use some form of antidepressant medications. Around 1 in 3 in suffer from some form of mental health problem each year.
That’s 1.8 million of us!
But it’s an undisputed truth that people in deprived areas are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.
Logic tells you that when you can afford to live cleaner, on better, healthier foods, and with the right social and monetary personal situations that this will contribute to more rounded, overall happiness, health and well-being. Yet as George Michael and others, like former Celtic boss Neil Lennon have shown, all the money in the world won’t cure this illness or stop you suffering from it. As long people choose not to focus on that they will downplay and degrade those who suffer from these problems no matter where in life’s salary scale they are.
It does nothing to help when you have some celebrities who also do more harm in search of a cheap laugh or snigger on worldwide television.
Look at Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who utterly demeaning Jesse Eisenberg recently on the Jay Leno show, following his admission that he had obsessive compulsive disorder. Who although, speaking freely about what he referred to as his daily rituals, was clearly disconcerted when she said she wished she had “weird quirks” like he had.
What manner of idiot do you have to be to make light of someone’s problems like that?
He sheepishly and almost embarrassed, replied she “could have them.”
Her attitude and contempt – or simply lack of understanding of the issue – is symptomatic of the problems most people with similar struggles encounter. All of them would voluntarily hand over their “weird quirks” in an instant. Just pass them away and no longer suffer the exasperation and hindrance they cause.
It’s said that never in the history of being told to calm down, has anyone ever actually calmed down.
The same kind of attitude towards mental health applies.
Never once after being told to cheer up, get a grip, give yourself a shake, has anyone ever felt better.
Telling someone you wish they had what they had, however it was meant, is outrageous.
We need to educate ourselves better on noticing simple signs in our children, brothers, sisters, friends and workmates.
People becoming withdrawn, anxious.
Even minor behavioural changes that can usually go unnoticed, worse still ignored.
The opposite of the historically negative behaviours also apply.
Someone who is constantly putting on a front, happy and laughing, but you know or think they are screaming out inside.
We need to get the taboo booted into touch and try and intervene before its past the stage, where “happy pills” are seen as the only option.
Yes teachers have a part, an important part – of course they do – in seeing and observing the tell tale signs, but we as sons, daughters, friends and colleagues should be equally liable in doing the same and also doing the right thing about it.
Being empathetic not sympathetic, being understanding without being forceful.
The mind is a complicated thing, that’s why psychologists and psychiatrists are paid handsomely.
However, being swept away in an “I’m alright jack I’ll keep an eye on my own stack” kind of selfishness, is only ever going to be a recipe for disaster.
An attitude shift towards being more responsible, tolerant and understanding would at least be a start.
To view someone who has suffered an episode, breakdown, condition, phobia, chronic fear differently, just because they could buy and sell you infinite times over, on the basis of a newspaper or media outlet dressing it up a certain way, says even more about you as an individual than it does about the rag or site making money from your salivating.
Let me tell, the media is only part of this problem. The day people stop rewarding them for publishing this trash is the day they stop doing it, I guarantee it.
Someone recently, a good friend, told me that the best way they found to help them when they were in a particularly dark period, was to do their best to try and help someone else. Take their mind off themselves for a while.
It would be ridiculous to assume this attitude would work for everyone and in all situations, but its a nice idea, a pink fluffy cloud to have, that in order to rise ourselves, we attempt to lift others, or at least try to.
Maybe we should all ponder that for a wee while.
Otherwise are we simply condemned to a world where if mortality rates follow a similar pattern to the first 3 months of 2016 in Scotland, we have around 1000 deaths per quarter to be attributed to mental and behavioural disorders?
That’s a shocking statistic.
Something to think about next time someone you deem; “Too famous” , “too wealthy”, “too happy” to be suffering in silence.
Worse still stuck within themselves, with apparently no way out.
No one ever should be.
If even one person feels they have a choice between facing that struggle alone of being subjected to public ridicule for seeking help or discussing it we are failing at humanity, with or without an illness. In a world of conceit, indifference and ignorance, fame or fortune doesn’t matter.
Depression doesn’t discriminate, it will take every poor sod in its path, unless we make some changes.
If we do, then we can all try and make a subtle difference
Have a little faith, and give other people reason to have faith in you.
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