Ruby Wax tackles the black dog
Our guest blogger Ruby Wax broke the silence about depression three years ago, when she featured mental health issues in her show Losing It. The comedian shares her experience of depression and explains why she launched the Black Dog Tribe, a social media site to support those with mental health issues.
About 5 years ago I had the tsunami of depressions. I always had something wrong as a child; no one knew what it was. I didn’t feel sad, as the name of the illness suggests. I simply felt flat-lined, dead, my mind erased. I would lie for days on end in a kind of awake coma. My mother, who was miserable through most of her life was told by the doctors she was fine, just having a change of life. Yeah, for the last 87 years?
I’m told that if you don’t treat depression and you have more than three episodes it will reoccur and get deeper and longer each time. Five years ago I couldn’t leave a chair for weeks on end - everything was too terrifying - so I just stayed glued in my chair. I felt everything inside my room was dangerous, especially the shower.
When I was finally told I had depression, I was so relieved. At last I could find a pill to help me. Later I found out that finding the right medication and/or therapist is not so easy. Finding the right one is like winning the jackpot in Vegas. No one knows what a good shrink is supposed to do and if you’re ill, you really can’t judge if someone is just sitting there, bluffing. I once had a shrink who fell asleep behind me with a corned beef sandwich hanging out of his mouth. I took his silence as profound knowledge.
As far as medication it’s another crap shoot and they’re handed out like candy at Hallowe’en. We are in the dark ages when it comes to mental illness and the government is spending less and less on it. In the last five years, criminality, diabetes, certain cancers, suicides and money lost in business because of absenteeism has risen so high that they’re off the chart. Let us remember that it all stems from the mothership, the brain. And if they don’t spend money on researching this vital organ, there will be hell to pay. Everyone is affected by mental illness; not just those who suffer, not just their care-givers, but all of society.
I have started this website called Black Dog Tribe where you can meet like-minded people on-line to stop feeling so alone and ashamed, which is part of the package that comes with mental illness.
People with mental health issues can come onto the site anonymously, although some day I hope we can all have the courage to form a large group, get a voice and do something to fight the discrimination.