Well, it's been quite a week hasn't it? The woman who is currently doing Prime Minister impressions has called for a General Election (I have to confess to only finding this out when someone made a booking with me for June 8th and, during the conversation, made mention of it) and an even less convincing impressionist, currently residing in The White House (when he's not playing golf or swanning about in Palm Beach - he has a residency there that boasts 126 rooms; I find it hard to believe he has that many friends) wants to go to war with North Korea. Fun times for all.
More importantly, though, is the announcement from Prince Harry about how the death of his mother had such a profound effect on his mental health. While the annoucement in itself should not be such a revelation - who hasn't lost a loved one and felt despair and depression? - for someone in his position to break their long-held silence over such an issue (and was there ever a greater example of the stiff-upper-lip approach to life than our own monarchy?) is a most laudable act. And, it seems, that his speaking out on this matter has prompted an open and unprejudiced discussion on this, the most taboo of all disabilities. Finally, it looks as though mental illness will now be taken seriously.
And not before time.
I speak as someone who was diagnosed with reactive depression almost ten years ago. Who knows how long I had been suffering with the illness but a chain of events at work (this was when I worked for the civil service) saw me sat in front of our family doctor, my wife's hand in mine, as the deadly word "depression" was pronounced. Now, I say "deadly" because I had my own preconceptions of the condition and what it meant for me. Many of my own heroes were depressives - Spike Milligan, Ernest Hemingway, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Hicks and Frank Sinatra were all plagued by what Winston Churchill called "the black dog" - so I knew that the illness was no barrier to the success I craved beyond the confines of my day job; my worry was how I was going to deal with the condition now that it had been diagnosed. And, of course, what effect would medication have on me?
Reactive depression. Over the next few days, I rolled the words around my head. I thought of how long I might have had this bloody thing. Was I born with it? Certainly my childhood years were blighted by fits of anger and impatience. And how many times as a young adult did I lose my temper at situations and circumstances that were out of my control? Time without number.
"You're an angry young man." My mum once said those very words to me, back when I was too young to really understand the depth of her prognosis.
I understand now, though.
Life is uncertain and the world can be unfair. Not all of us are so well equipped to deal with this. We need support just as the man in the wheelchair needs a ramp to enter a building or the blind woman needs a guide dog to get around. Support and understanding. Not too much to ask for is it?
Personally, I'm hopeful. Already I find that I am much more comfortable in talking about my own condition without fear of discrimination and judgement. And that alone has got to be a good thing.