On Sunday we were travelling back from spending the weekend with friends when we took a pit-stop at a service station. A few people stared at the news screen hanging from the ceiling. I, like many others, was shocked to hear of Gary Speed’s death. It was almost unthinkable. Unbelievable. Everybody loved Gary Speed regardless of which team you followed. He was respected, admired. A gentleman and thorough professional. But Suicide ? WHAT?!
About every couple of months I have a low day. I mooch around like some skanky teenager kicking cats and tin cans. I’m down. We all have those days. Running on “Empty” . Then the battery charges – the meter goes up – and away we go again.
Depression is different.
I know a couple, and for sake of argument because I don’t have permission to tell their story, let’s call them Sally and Dave. Sally was always top in class. Top marks. Went to a top uni. Top degree. Top international job with top pay. Top.Top.Top. Then “bang” . The valve blew and Sally crashed. Sally was diagnosed with stress related clinical depression, the chemical imbalance in the brain that says no matter how successful you are and how much you hide your stress your body ain’t lying. Happy pills were duly prescribed.
I don’t mean to be flippant. This is a serious issue, but I don’t want to lay one on you, either.
A couple of years later and still on the “Happy Pills” Dave came home to find Sally curled up in a darkened room gently sobbing. She said that she was afraid she was going to kill herself. She understood what was happening in her head but was afraid of not being able to control the compulsion. I guess, afraid of being out of control. Dave and Sally sought serious help then.
When all this was going on hardly anyone knew. No-one could see from the outside and only the most trusted and closest had any clue what pain Sally was in. I think this is my point. Depression is misunderstood and a solitary illness for those who suffer from it. (Sally is fine now.) Telling someone with depression to pick themselves up or “pull yourself together” may be well meaning but, unfortunately, only displays our common misunderstanding. It’s just not as easy as that or they would do it.
“Understanding” is often the only help you can offer and, is sometimes all that may be required. But I guess it’s a hard trick to pull off. And if you are someone who loves, lives with or cares for someone with depression, then cut yourself some slack. You’ll need enough strength for both of you.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Gary Speed’s family and friends for whom this is the greatest shock of all.