Much of the talk in the blogosphere is about 'that question'. Lets get a few facts straight:
- Roughly 25% of the population have a serious depressive episode at some stage. It doesn't mean you're 'mad'. The kind of abuse and stereotypes chucked around demonstrates that many people are still at some infantile playground stage of understanding when it comes to mental illness.
- Taking antidepressants to control mood is analagous to diabetics taking insulin - it corrects a chemical imbalance in the body.
- Guido Fawkes claims double standards, in that David Cameron has been asked about his drug use, whilst suddenly everyone is protesting about Andrew Marr's question. Wrong. Antidepressants are legal, spliffs are not. Questions about illegal drug use are entirely proper for someone who is going to be making laws.
- Having depression needn't affect your ability to do the job. Churchill is a prime example of this, but there are thousands of other good examples. I would hope Nadine Dorries might spring to Gordon Browns defence, having counselled 'suicidal' MP's in the wake of the expenses scandal. (Update: she has). Depression is no respecter of political boundaries, and the Westminster village should be mature enough to set the tone on this, rather than use it as a means to score political points. Some journalists get it too.
- It just so happens that 11th October is World Mental Health Day, and churches are being encouraged to take part in the Time To Change campaign to end mental health discrimination. We've had some stories, prayers and sermon notes circulated by our Diocese, you can find them here. Perhaps this sorry business might actually give more impact to the campaign, and to what we say in our churches.
- I've had depression, and have taken antidepressants. Does that make you think any less of me? If so, why?
- Gordon Brown should be judged on his abilities and achievements as Prime Minister. What he takes to cope with the blues, or with a headache, or with irritable bowel, or whatever, is nothing to do with this.
Links: (sensible posts only)
Enemies of Reason: what an unbleeped Alastair Campbell might have said in response to the question.
Polis on the genesis of the rumour.
Graeme Archer at CentreRight, writing as a psychiatric specialist. Good article.
Interesting piece at The Appalling Strangeness, written a couple of weeks ago, about the stigmas around mental illness, and whether public figures, by going public, might help lift it.