I had actually been planning on writing a blog for the first time in ages this week. I’ve been back into regular exercise for about 5-6 weeks, and in my mind I had a few angles to approach a new blog post from:
- The fact that my running (and therefore my attempt at beating my 5k PB) has been binned
- The fact that I’m instead doing some high intensity interval training at a silly time of day as a replacement
- Or that instead of my own 2 feet, I’m now looking at 2 wheels as my escape route from the dark corners of my annoying little brain.
After a few attempts at starting it, I wasn’t sure if I could be bothered. and then today I saw the front pages of numerous newspapers, reporting on the tragic plane crash in France that killed 150 people. Early indications were that the co-pilot intentionally flew the plane into a mountain and the potential reason behind this was the co-pilot himself had been struggling with depression/mental illness. While none of this is confirmed, the UK press plowed on with their usual gutter approach and reported on the “jilted & depressed killer”. It’ll come as no surprise to any that leading the charge of distasteful headlines was The Sun newspaper. For anyone not from the UK, The Sun newspaper are what we in this island would describe as utter c*nts. Owned by Rupert Murdoch, a morally vacuous repugnant mish-mash of greed, racism and lies distastefully wrapped in human skin as if someone has taken the slops bucket from a liposuction factory and tried to fashion a Mr Burns doll out of it. The Sun’s headline was “Madman in the Cockpit“. This headline made me want to scream. but I was in the office when I saw the paper on someone’s desk so I thought better of it. I also wanted to strangle the person who’d bought the paper for validating the thoughts of the f**kwits that wrote the thing, but again that sort of thing is frowned upon here in this global bank’s headquarters. It did confirm to me, however, that I should write a blog entry this week.
As I type this, it’s still unclear the motives of the co pilot. But if he was indeed suffering from depression, then it’s clearly an extreme case. For someone to end his life (& that of many others) in that way, rather than find help or an alternative solution to whatever his issues are/were is beyond tragic.
What is it about his form of illness that makes a person so desperate, so unhappy, but yet still put so much effort into seeming ‘normal’ to the outside world? To have such crushingly negative thoughts, but smile and nod their way through each day to those around them? “How on earth was he allowed to Fly?” Screamed the Daily Mail headline. Not “Why on earth did no-body help him?”
Could it be the general attitude of society, fuelled by truthless rags like The Sun, portraying mental illness as a taboo, a form of human weakness, that makes sufferers want to internalise their strife?
What if you were at your wits end? You had somehow plucked up the courage to talk to your partner, brother, parent or even a doctor, and you picked up The Sun this morning? Confidence already at a low ebb you find that the world is describing a fellow sufferer of your illness as a ‘madman’. Still feel like opening up?
The damage today’s headlines could do to so many other lives is massive. But a few more solitary suicides won’t matter to the tabloids. Not worth mentioning if it’s not part of a bigger tragedy that they can splash across their front page.
Clarke Carlisle was in the news this week also. An ex-professional footballer who recently stepped in front of a lorry as a result of his depression, almost killing him, he was helping launch The Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation aimed at raising awareness for sports stars suffering from mental illness. He has been refreshingly honest about his struggles and one thing he said this week made me really applaud him. He said that he wasn’t ashamed that he had tried to commit suicide. He simply recognised that he was incredibly ill at the time, and that he now recognised that and thanks to a host of people supporting him, he now had acquired tools to help him deal with his illness from here onwards.
I find it so disheartening that in a week were a person in the public arena, said so many positive things to try and break down the stigma of depression & mental illness, this message has been drowned by the tabloid coverage of the plane crash and instead we are left with the image of the ‘jilted madman’ who became a killer.
I don’t profess to have been affected anywhere near as bad as the cases above, but I still recognise how easy it can be to become lost in a downward spiral, where even the smallest things have the biggest consequence. The worst part of this is the constant battle between wanting someone to help you out, but trying desperately to seem as if you don’t need any help. It’s an exhausting effort and it’s impossible to describe unless you’ve been there, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I was lucky enough to be able to break the barrier and speak up, and the support I had ever since from friends, family, our GP and even followers of this blog has been amazing. So many more folk would benefit massively from the backing they need if they could just bring themselves to acknowledge their illness to someone.
150 lives needlessly lost. But the number affected by the UK press & their disgraceful slant on this story will never be known and that to me is the real tragedy.