Turning away, respectfully

On Saturday March 21st I will be taking part in a panel discussion about depression and suicide as part of Brighton’s Sick Festival events. There are also events taking place in Manchester.

Each one of us exists on a spectrum of depression, don’t we? Some are further along this spectrum than others but if we’re alive, we have the capacity to feel both joyful about this fact and agony, too.

My approach to dealing with those moments when the agony presents itself more forcefully borrows something from child rearing advice. I view any threat of depression as if it is a wilful, demanding child of mine. I take responsibility for this child – it’s mine and there are things I appreciate about it – it is a privilege sometimes, to see the world through this particular child’s eyes. As with child rearing, though, when the behaviour of the child threatens to be destructive – to me, to others – the most effective and humane way of dealing with it is to ignore the child and hopefully discourage it.

For this reason, I choose not to acknowledge depression – in myself, I mean. I know for others it can be important to have it recognised and certainly ‘not to acknowledge’ is not the same as denial, which is rarely helpful. The choice I am able to make is a luxury that some further along the spectrum may not enjoy and certain environmental conditions (a loving and boundaried upbringing, for example) probably make it easier to turn away. It is a turning away that is required for me, however – a turning away gently and respectfully.

To find out about events taking place as part of Sick Festival visit http://www.sickfestival.com

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