This morning’s post was going to be about something else, but I’ve just finished watching a BBC programme called “Mind Games: Depression in Sport“, and I’ve started writing this with tears in my eyes.
Not just of sadness, either – they are tears of something like joy at the sheer wonderful bravery of the four sports personalities who were the focus of Gabby Logan’s interviews. Ex-World Heavyweight Champ Frank Bruno, cricketer Marcus Trescothick, soccer player Neil Lennon and former All-Black John Kirwan shared their tales of woe and of the added agonies they faced at suffering depression during lives which most other people would have imagined as a dream come true.
The programme was not without sadness, of course – indeed, the whole programme was prompted by the recent suicide of German goalkeeper Robert Enke, and also mentioned the deaths of Justin Fashanu, David Bairstow and Ireland’s own Darren Sutherland. Overall, though, the way Frank, Marcus, Neil and John have coped with their illness can only fill a fellow sufferer with hope. It was great to see how well they all seem now, and wonderful to hear Frank Bruno laugh again, as he is the only person in history who genuinely laughs “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk”.
Gabby seemed slightly taken aback by the black humour sometimes shown in these cases – John Kirwan revealed that a NZ comedian has started a depression-awareness group called “the Nutters Club”, while Marcus Trescothick revealed that his team-mates now refer to him as “Mad Fish”. She seemed horrified by this, but I think it’s very funny, and laughter of any sort when you’re really down can only help. To the very few people who know about all my problems I regularly say things like “since I started going mad”, or refer to the fact that I now have a psychiatrist as “now that I’m a mental patient”.
When I wrote first here that I was being sent to see a shrink in St John of Gods I got comments of encouragement like “Good luck, you big nutball” (Jo), “doesn’t matter that it’s in the loony bin” (Mwa) and “going to visit the nut house will be great for you” (Laughykate). While the main thing those three remarks proves is that women are wagons, the irreverence shown was a great help at the time, as you all knew it would be. It felt as if we were laughing at the whole thing together.
Anyway, it was a super programme, and one I hope got a huge audience among people like me.
And, finally, while we’re on the topic, a guy called David Adams wrote this in the Irish Times last week.
I wanted to post a link to it at the time, but didn’t feel like doing another depression post. Now we’re on the topic anyway I’ve put it in. It’s one of the best descriptions I’ve ever read of how you feel when another bout is starting.
Though he never says it, you get the feeling that David Adams is writing from personal experience. If he isn’t then he is showing a wonderful empathy with depression sufferers. Either way, I’d like to thank him, and wish him well.
All in all, a good week in the fight against depression, and in making talking about it more acceptable.