No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
John Donne, Meditation 17.
There are things about life that unite us, that make us part of a community. Like Scouting, or being gay, or following a particular football team. It might be your family or your presence at an historic event. Elements and moments that mark us out as members of that group or community.
I’ve thought about this post for a little while, mainly because I’m not certain if what I’m going to write about is a universal thing or just something that happens in my own head. So hang in there with me. Hopefully, it’s going to be worth it. I’m writing with the intention for these words to fall respectfully, gently.
Charlotte Dawson. Television personality. Celebrity. Target. Friend. Sister.
A woman who had depression, and died on the 22nd of February, 2014.
I didn’t know her.
I know what I saw of her: a woman who seemed to boast intelligence, wit, beauty and a strong inner light. But I didn’t know her, not personally.
As an aside – there were people who thought they knew her well enough to try to destroy her, through an online barrage of abuse. Horrific stuff. It dismays me that as a species we still do this to each other. She fought the social media trolls, and as a nation we shook our heads and tut-tutted over the cyber-bullying.
But the damage was done.
When I heard the news that Charlotte Dawson had died, I have to admit: I wasn’t impacted because of who she was or the grieving that was to come for those who loved her. I was impacted because she and I are members of the same army. And to hear that a member of that army had died – I understood, I felt the bitterness of defeat, and I knew we had to keep fighting.
Like Charlotte, I have depression.
Like Charlotte, I’ve found myself at the bottom of the pit, fed up, exhausted, tired, dismayed. A weariness of the spirit that is so deep that even my words disappear.
To see that she had died once again reminded me of the nature of depression. It can be terminal.
And – this is the “Is it universal?” thing – when she died, I felt loss because she was one of us. She was on my team, in my army, part of my main and part of my continent, to quote Donne. Not because I knew her – but because we had that unifying bond.
So now that Charlotte has moved on and the Oscars have become the hashtag of the moment… What are you doing about depression? Because trust me – this isn’t a condition that goes away just because it isn’t trending.
I want to suggest to you three things that you can do about depression. Think about them. See if you can do one, two or all three of them. It’s not a ribbon you can pin on your shirt, but I reckon these things can help raise awareness.
1. Know where to send people for help. If someone tells me their mood is consistently poor, I always refer them to their GP. It’s general, it’s not confronting, it’s usually pretty doable. If they don’t have a GP, then tell them to try yours.
2. Know what it looks like when someone has depression. Something I didn’t know was that men and women experience depression in very different ways. You can find out what the symptoms are by clicking here.
3. Know your own warning signs. If you have depression, you’re going to know your warning signs. For me, my words start to get jumbled and I stop sleeping. Work out what your warning signs are, and when you start noticing them occurring over consecutive days, see your GP.
Charlotte Dawson, like many, many others, had depression. It’s a shitty thing to be united by, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe Charlotte’s passing can be my reminder can be my advice can help save someone.
Don’t be a had.
Be a has.
Ms Naughty Corner HAS depression… and will continue to fight like hell.