I'm tired of being asked why I got depressed. I have no problem talking about how it has impacted on my life, and that of my family and friends, I think people need to know exactly how much mental illness can take over and infiltrate every aspect of life. But I have a very big problem with the perception that this could somehow be my own fault
Amal Alamuddin Clooney has just accidentally reignited this great debate, after changing her surname. Putting aside the usual dirge of how its every woman's dream to be Mrs Clooney (it's not), she's a fantastic example of how a strong, successful female role model can change her name and it not mean that she is passively submitting to her husband's will.
Sunday will be my first wedding anniversary, and it feels like just yesterday I was a major ball of stress, preparing for the happiest day of my life. While I'm definitely not quite yet the authority on marriage (I'll get back to you in 50 years), I have learned a few things during the last year of being a married woman. Here are the top five.
My husband isn't my best mate - I already have one, and had one long before we met. I'm not going to ask him for dress advice (he's a punk rocker and until I shave my head we'll probably never see eye to eye), and I understand that when I'm sick, although he'll do his best to look after me, it won't be the same as a cuddle from my mum.
But how about my kids? How am I with them? At my worst, I'm unable to cope with them. I can't engage, I don't want to play, getting myself up, dressed and fed is sometimes beyond me. Often, all I'm capable of is sitting and staring at a wall for hours on end. I resent every demand that's made of me, I want to be left alone, utterly and completely.
It was she who encouraged me to leave my dead-end job with no regrets and launch a media consultancy business from the kitchen table, join a gym and pump iron, write a book and two screenplays at exactly the same time with only vague notions about plot, indulge in a series of ineffectual health food fads and therapists...
If your child leaving creates a hole in your life, you must find new and healthy ways to fill it. The empty nest often means that you have to adjust to living alone with your partner again, which you haven't done for 18 years. It's very common for old tensions or arguments to resurface and explode, so it's important to make a real effort to connect with them again.
I'd changed my Facebook status... I'd sent out up to three different variations of group text (which people only seemed to resent as being impersonal)... I mean Jesus I'd even looked at some people directly in their needy little faces and told them that we were engaged. But that is just not enough for some people.
My own relationship has faced its own issues, with two marital separations; I know from first-hand how miss-communication and miss-understanding can change a relationship for the worse, how listening is more powerful than speaking, and how the unspoken word can often bring a relationship closer or create distance from those you once loved.
Victims will often protect their abusers in public for fear of any repercussions at home. They will act the loving couple so that nobody suspects and even to convince themselves that things are not as bad as they are. It is often only when the abuse has gone too far and there is no way back that the victim will confide in a close friend or family member.