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Depression: The Invisible Assassin

Posted: 02/12/11 13:47

When your emotional balance essentially tap dances on an imaginary substance that's thinner than a strand of nylon and lighter than helium, it can be tough to maintain a permanent front.

Outside influences that surround all of our lives that some can simply brush off, can often feel at times like permanent weights hooked into the flesh of those that suffer with depression. It's those outside influences that seem to be able to tip your metaphorical tap dancing tightrope walker one way or the other.

These influences can be anything, from a slight glitch in your home life which in normal circumstances could be powered through, to a mishap in the work place and range in severity from minor to crippling. The amount of time it lasts can be anything from an hour to a day; the trick, is knowing it won't last any longer than a day, because usually, it doesn't.

Rushden and Diamonds' keeper Dale Roberts and German international Robert Enke both took their own lives after publicly suffering with depression. This prompted the Professional Footballers' Association to send 4000 leaflets to players who may be dealing with their illness in silence.

Tragically, it took the death of the outfield footballer with the largest number of Premier League appearances Gary Speed, to push the PFA to expand its leaflet distribution to former players too.

Staying with depression in football, Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the PFA, summed it up perfectly: "Mental problems have to be treated with understanding."

"We want to do all we can to try to avoid another tragedy. We have decided to widen the booklet's circulation and let people know there is a support system out there for them," he said, giving further indication that awareness is on the rise.

If anything positive can come of the tragic deaths of those footballers, it's that people who may have little or no knowledge on the subject can finally begin to understand the depth of depression and the extent to which it can push people.

Although a huge number of men and women are gripped in the tendrils of depression - up to 4% of men and 5% of women according to Samaritans - it can still be a social faux pas for some. A factor of embarrassment can force people to suffer in silence, which in today's society shouldn't be occurring as regularly as it does.

Just hours before I was set to leave the newsroom to cover the November 30 protests, I found myself barely able to talk to any of my colleagues following an argument with my partner. An argument that should have been resolved in hours, if not minutes and it ended with devastating results. I couldn't think straight, I felt unwell, I didn't want to talk to anybody, I didn't want to report on the strikes, I didn't want to be anywhere near responsibility - but I got through it.

By the time I made it to Chancery Lane, I was fine. To be mindful of what is actually happening and to force yourself to look outside of the box that depression squeezes you into and realise it for what it is, is arguably as effective as prescribed medication.

I cope exceedingly well - these days, anyway - with my illness but I know it doesn't take a lot to lose the balance and send me in to a tunnel vision episode of depression: there's nothing to the left or right, I have to grit my teeth and bear it until I'm out.

It takes time to be proactively mindful of these coping mechanisms, I was diagnosed four years ago and was fortunate enough to have a relative that had been there before - I was lucky. It's still a huge problem for me, but I cope by telling myself that the black cloud lingering above my head will pass hopefully sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately for you, if you are a sufferer, nobody outside of our exclusive club comprehends what you're experiencing - some may even question the existence of your problem. Fortunately, it is something you learn to live with in time and in my case, a normal life can certainly ensue.

 

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