Clinical depression is a severe, debilitating condition. It can strip you of your life, if you can’t fight it. It’s something beatable and it’s so common.
Depression can start out as a bad day, a failed exam, a traffic fine. It can end in a funeral and people mourning a life lost. With sometimes days or years in between, this is serious.
We are all aware of the power and influence of celebrity status. If your name is splashed around the tabloids and social media, with a few product associations in the mix, people will soon get to know who you are. The thing is, endorsements, charity work, thousands to millions in the bank and an ever-present stream of media outlets spruiking your name won’t hide a mental illness forever.
Like any serious disease, it doesn’t target anyone in particular. No one is protected. Take L’Wren Scott, the beautiful partner of rocker Mick Jagger, who recently and tragically took her own life. All we knew is that her business troubles were building up and she couldn’t find a way through the fog.
Or Charlotte Dawson, the model, TV presenter, media commentator and more recently just another human who was cyber-bullied to the brink of death. She took her own life after a long struggle with mental demons.
Then I come to young, modern-day men such as AFL footballer, Mitch Clark, who yesterday retired from the game to pursue a path of recovery. He is one brave young man, we would all think, to walk away from a contract of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Ian Thorpe, who felt compelled to relocate to an overseas location to find happiness and a pathway of love in his life. Celebrity or not, sometimes all it takes is for one last negative thought to overshadow the rest. Then it’s no returning. But for these men, they have taken the first steps towards better health.
Celebrity or not, there is no human alive who can fight clinical depression alone. Mitch Clark seemingly has the world at his feet, money, family and friends and a photography career that is blossoming. But he did one thing that most people struggling with clinical depression cannot make real- he put himself first.
As someone who has battled clinical depression in the past (and won), after finding the strength to the leave a physically and mentally torturous relationship and with the more harrowing deaths of my parents following acute and chronic illnesses, I know too well the struggle that is before the sufferer of depression. There has been no greater health emergency in my life than when I suffered from depression.
If you can remember back to a moment when you felt like you couldn’t go on, a moment where nothing mattered, that your disappearance from the daily troubles of life weighed heavily on your weary shoulders, this is what depression feels like. The physical effects of fatigue, gastrointestinal upsets, the confusion, the mood disruption, the anxiety and the lack of motivation are just small parts of what someone with depression will deal with every day. The feelings of helplessness, despair and decreased self worth are murky waters to wade through.
Depression is such a heavy load to bear, no matter the cause. It is deep rooted in your sense of self worth, belonging and your journey in life. The world and life begins to seem meaningless and you can’t find a way through the fog.
People meaning well will tell you that everything will be okay, but it is only you who can make the judgment. Celebrity status can bring all the best neuro specialists to your bedside, to discuss the illness and the journey you face (and not to mention the financial bill they’ll send out) and to raise awareness of the plight of those suffering. But whoever clinical depression hits, celebrity or not, it will be up to them to reach out first and seek help. To put themselves first.
It takes a strong heart to admit to the so-called “short-coming” of ill mental state, I don’t see recognizing a weakness as a fault at all. It takes a lot of reflection, a great deal of turmoil and a will to survive to admit that your life needs saving and that your life is worth it. That above all, you know you are in dark but you want to see light so desperately.
I can’t imagine the plight of having celebrity status attached to my character and to my family. I’d never want something like that. To be relentlessly followed through the good and bad times of my life by people who just want to take pictures, sell stories and gossip. Then feeling the demand to publically declare a state of depression, it’s valiant. Some would say crazy, in terms of expanding your career though.
You’re putting your public image up for scrutiny and the ultimate outcome your adoring fans should hope for is that you recover and that awareness is raised for mental health conditions. So that the general community, not just the celebrity types, can feel the same love and compassion from society, without having to go to a media outlet to tell their story.
Depression is never something to take lightly and to the celebrity types putting their diagnosis out there for all to see, I commend you. But I commend you more for taking a step towards restored wellbeing. That is what is important, your life. And whether you can recognize it or not, you are the most important factor in the equation.
To those suffering from depression, I wish a peaceful recovery for you. I only hope that come to a point where you make yourself number one, because that’s what you deserve. Seek help in those you trust. Seek peace and rest.