Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Tosh Helps Me Fight Depression

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

How Tosh Helps Me Fight Depression

Article excerpt


I HAD lunch last week with a friend who responded to the conventional inquiry "How are you?" with the arresting statement "I'm having a breakdown".

I could hardly complain, since I have a terrible reputation for wrongly assuming that people asking me that question actually want an answer. Nevertheless, it struck me how much it is not the English way.

We do not announce "I've got terminal cancer", but murmur apologetically "I've been a bit poorly" or, better still, "Mustn't grumble".

Ironically, this exchange took place on the very day that a "major study" pronounced that anti-depressant drugs were completely useless. If you were affected by this verdict, do not fret. I am sure that there will be another "major study" along shortly, proving precisely the opposite.

At the risk of getting into the same sort of trouble with my aunt that resulted when I jokingly claimed in this column to be an alcoholic (as opposed to the bizarrely more socially acceptable reality of a habitual drunk), I can disclose that I have suffered from depression for 35 years. I took various prescription drugs for well over a decade and can vouch for their effects: some good, some frighteningly bad. They certainly made more of an impact than any of the various "talking therapies" and the notion that they do nothing at all is simply risible.

Like many depressives, I actually have great sympathy with the "pull yourself together" school of thought on how it should be treated. In my case, I certainly cannot exclude the possibility that it is rooted in nothing more than self-obsessed attention-seeking; and perhaps finding a medically acceptable excuse for inactivity that is rooted in nothing more than sheer laziness.

Nevertheless, I think it is helpful for sufferers to get it out into the open. There should be no stigma attached to depression. …

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