So, I should really give up writing to you, since it’s not like you’ll ever listen. But in the fiant hopes that some spark of compassion may reside somewhere in the depths of your offices (try the filing cabinet, at the back, marked “redundant”), I’ll try again.
You see, I’m just me, so maybe I’m in the wrong. But it seems to me that if I were writing about a pilot with depression, who may have intentionally caused the deaths of those on his flight, including several teenagers, I’d want to use a bit of sensitivity. Today’s headlines in what you regrettably term a newspaper, however, seem to suggest I’m wrong. Or you are, which I suspect is more likely.
The events on that flight were – are – a tragedy. No other way to put that. But leading with the headline”Why on earth was he allowed to fly?” is not only insensitive, it’s bloody ridiculous.
Statistics show that one in four of us will struggle with mental ill health at some point. I’m no mathmatician, but that seems to suggest that quite a few people with depression may be holding down jobs. To suggest otherwise – that the pilot’s history of depression should bar someone, for all eternity, from their job, is both misleading and deeply insulting. To suggest that someone with a diagnosis of mental illness will never recover is damning, and, frankly, wrong.
Just in case you need it, here’s a list of the things one can do with a diagnosis of depression.
Hold down a job. Get a first in their degree. Speak at the UN. Run a youth group. Preach. Teach. Lead Sunday school. write a book. Hobnob with and inflence world leaders. Be an amazing mum and a great friend.
How do I know? Well, depression has never stopped me from doing any of the above.
I can’t judge the pilot in this case, because I simply will never know what he was thinking and feeling. I know he leaves behind a legacy of broken people, and I can never feel anything but sorrow for that. But you managed in that headline to kick a whole lot of people. People who already struggle with feeling worthless and broken and useless, and yet who win battles daily just by getting out of bed. People stronger than you can ever realise, and yet people who will never see that themselves.
And you’ve managed to contribute to the sense of mental illness as other. Those crazy people over there, and us nice sane sensible people over here. Except it doesn’t work like that. Because funnily enough, people with mental illness are just that – people.
I loathe depression. It nearly killed me when I was 20, and it’s done its best to ruin many of the things I hold closest. It sucks. But it doesn’t define me. I am a person with depression, but I am also a person with a heart that burns at injustice, loves deeply and passionately, and can’t survive without a morning caffeine shot. Depression doesn’t make me.
Please, for the love of God, step out of your protected bubble. Please stop seeing people as desperatley trying to pop it for you, as if that would be the world’s biggest calamity. Instead, look out and see the people you denigrate. See what they add to the world. See that the world is a better place because they are in it. And then pop your own bubble, and see how glorious the world really is.
I promise you, you won’t regret it.