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Ruby Wax and battling depression

30 replies

ElenMumsnetBloggers · 22/03/2012 10:06

Hi bloggers,

Ruby Wax has written a guest blog to share her experience of depression and explain why she set up the Black Dog Tribe, a new site which acts as an online support network for those with depression. Do you think online communities are an effective way to support people dealing with mental health issues? And what other strategies helped you combat depression?

We're keen to hear your thoughts. And if you have a question for Ruby, you can ask it here too Smile

OP posts:
only4tonight · 22/03/2012 11:19

I do think an on line community is a great idea. However I also think such a specific community would have to be highly monitored and moderated. There are some awful people out there who would take great pleasure in trying to drive a depressed person over the edge.

lostlilly · 22/03/2012 11:32

I think the internet is essential for some people who are in the grips of depression and find it difficult to leave the house or tell people within their own networks about how they are feeling. Ruby Wax has done wonders for mental health campaigns and even though depression is very common it still holds stigma and thankfully high profle celebrities who are open about their experiences give hope to others who are going through similar illness.
Careful, professional moderating and management is paramount though because of the unfortunate few in society who prey on vulnerable people in any way they can.

nursenic · 22/03/2012 15:06

As a Psych Nurse I have seen both positive and negative effects of online forums. They are a source of support and info as long as they are moderated or run by people with either professional qualifications or member ship of a professional body. This ensures a correct set of procedures and protection against well meaning but inappropriate guidance or more insidious activities.

The support offered can be good but it may also prolong or increase isolation from wider society which tends to occur anyway when one is mentally unwell. A forum like this can quickly evolve into a helpful 'ghetto' encouraging forum users to turn away even more from human real life engagement and interactions.

On line forums are strongest when they encourage/facilitate an off-line existence too.

Am also somewhat sceptical about Ruby Wax as a figure head too. First and foremost she is an entertainer and certainly what I and my colleagues have seen/heard of her shows and talks regarding mental ill health, has led us to form a view of her as extremely narcissistic and limited in her ability to truly empathise. I have the feeling that this is another 'career move' for her; a way of feeding her need for public approval and attention.

I appreciate that famous people who have experienced mental health problems can be extremely powerful, effective and compassionate spokes people and help us to fight stigma and prejudice. I'm not sure that Ruby Wax is one of them.

nursenic · 22/03/2012 15:09

I mean to write "moderated by professionals alongside mental health service user involvement. Not solely run by professionals".

Tee2072 · 22/03/2012 15:58

While the internet certainly restricted my isolation when I was at my most depressed, I'm not sure I would have posted on such a forum. Other depressed people, well, depress me! Same reason I don't really post on the MH forums here at MN. I don't find 'words on a screen' all that supportive when depressed, but that's my personal opinion.

swallowedAfly · 22/03/2012 20:04

hmm i don't think being a psych nurse qualifies you to diagnose someone from their public persona as 'extremely narcissistic'.

ruby well done for raising awareness about mental health issues and trying to combat stigma. my questions is - would you like to explain why you feel you want to raise awareness in this area and maybe defend yourself against the accusation of being an extreme narcissist on a self publicising mission? i don't believe that to be the case by the way in case my sarcasm wasn't dripping through the keyboard effectively enough.

i found an online forum extremely helpful at one stage when i was very ill. it was good to have a community of people that i could talk to and share with at a really difficult point and as it was international there was usually someone around even in the middle of the night. i still keep in touch with several of the women i met on there though my life has moved on a lot now.

i've tried pretty much every trick in the book when it comes to depression as i've had bouts of it since i was in my mid teens. i don't have a one size fits all people or all stages of depression - it really is, for me, a case of learning lots of strategies and being flexible and keeping trying.

sometimes the best thing you can do with depression at the point you're at is go with it, let yourself have a week of sleep and withdrawal and bleurgh and not kick yourself for it or for not doing x, y or z or even letting shoulds enter the picture. for me it's kind of like letting myself stop fighting the impossible and exhausting myself trying to walk through quicksand anymore and to finally just rest in it gives me the chance to come back to life at the other end.

at others times you feel the worm turn, some little spark of energy or oompf and you have to grab it - it's time to get out there and for me that means literally outside, in the countryside walking and looking at the sky and encouraging that feeling of connection back into my soul.

then obviously there are the meds, the excercise, the trying not to isolate etc etc etc but really i think for me the trick is in grabbing those chinks of light - the spark of energy, the sudden out of the darkness feeling that you might like to have a bath or tidy up a bit or.... whatever. a little chink in the wall of depression is felt and the trick is recognising those chinks and exploiting them and not letting them slip away unheeded. then before i know it i'm on my way again and getting back on form.

i guess because it's recurrent and all a bit constant i see it differently from someone who has a one off bad bout of depression and has to combat and overcome and then be 'normal' again. it's a bit of a different journey.

sorry, long waffle.

swallowedAfly · 22/03/2012 20:08

tee - i think the community i chatted to was great in that we were more focussed on chit chat and company and dark humour than on endless talk about how depressed we felt. there were some really strong women who even in the midst of it could laugh, and make me laugh. the depression was a given - we could therefore, with that understood, be ourselves without the depression being off putting or scary for others. not sure i'm explaining at all well. i think it was quite a unique group - we met on a huge site and then set up a small forum of our own with message boards and chatroom.

swallowedAfly · 22/03/2012 20:12

oh and also encouragement eg. right! you said you wanted to make it to 'x' this week, go jump in the shower and get dressed and go as you know you will feel better for it and you told us on monday we should kick your arse if you started saying you weren't going to go.. type thing. you know?

or a bit like the flylady threads on here whereby people could report what they'd managed to do that day or write lists of what they'd like to achieve and not feel ridiculous if their list consisted of things like 'get dressed' because we all knew that that was a huge challenge at that point.

so albeit depressed folks still positive itms.

right i will shut up now.

CuriousMama · 22/03/2012 20:44

I've found nomorepanic very helpful for my panic disorder. Except when I went into chat, just once, and someone in there was suicidal and took over the whole conversation, others left the convo. That was a bit worrying tbh.

So, I won't be going in chat anymore but will stay on the forums.

cornsilksit1 · 22/03/2012 21:13

I think anything that raises the profile of mental health is helpful.

I am also horrified by nursenic diagnosing her without ever having met her. That's very worrying actually if nursenic actually is a MH professional.

scottishmummy · 22/03/2012 21:30

talking about mh issues is positive
the human narrative,acknowledging stigma
but one needs to be aware online is unmoderated, and can bring out some strong opinions and bad advice

I have read some dreadful guessing and revision of diagnoses on mn
mh assessment is a human face to face ax,the mood,the nuances,the engagement.on a lot time here folk are quick to diagnose and personality disorder and psychopathy are oft touted with scant understanding,but plenty stories of ex was a git...must have been bpd

nursenic · 23/03/2012 12:57

I said Form a view of her as extremely narcissistic! i did not formally Dx her, scottishmummy.. You seem a little muddled regarding narcissistic traits, behaviours and formal narcissistic personality disorder which tends to be a tandem trait anyway.

And if I have no basis to form this view of her then neither do you have a right to your opposing view, swallowed.

And has it ever occurred to any of you that maybe it is possible to adjudge certain tendencies from somebodies public (and non public) persona? It's not rocket science.

Also, in some earlier interviews/pieces, RW has referred to herself as narcissistic.

nursenic · 23/03/2012 13:01

"All the while, Wax's ego was oversized to the point of obesity, hoovering up adulation wherever it was to be found. It was part of her in-your-face schtick, but it was also the problem. "You feel the self dying when you're in showbusiness," she says. "Narcissism feels good because it's a drug. But, at a certain point, it's sickening if you have any intelligence. Then you're holding on for dear life, saying, 'Please do a documentary about my gall bladder operation'."

Nyac · 23/03/2012 14:40

It sounds like she's got a fair amount of insight from that post.

Good for Ruby for doing this.

nursenic · 23/03/2012 14:42

Maybe so but insight alone is not enough to influence motivation for some people. Wax has made many many references over the years to her narcissistic nature so my commenting upon it is totally appropriate.

Nyac · 23/03/2012 14:57

SANE are supporting it. It looks an interesting project:

and if it can help destigmatise mental illness, in particular depression, that's all to the good.

swallowedAfly · 23/03/2012 19:29

what a nasty character assassination you are determined to make of someone promoting mental health issues nursenic. thank god i never came across you in my years of engaging with mental health services.

scottishmummy · 23/03/2012 19:49

it's a shame you seek to speculate online nic
one more professional would refrain from such tittle tattle
but clearly that's not you

nursenic · 23/03/2012 21:03

Scottishmummy....So RW's own quoted words are tittle tattle are they? My my. Who's being dismissive now?

I've spent nearly 30 years promoting MH issues and have been fortunate enough to be nominated for, and win a couple of user-led awards for my work. That speaks far more for me than thanks from my employers.

So, Swallowed, your comments about my professional behaviour haven't been reflected thank goodness in the opinions of what i do held by my clients and service users. I have insecurities, but my commitment to my clients and my ability to be with them is not one of them. And maybe you have come across me, Swallowed.

Hardly a character assassination when I could paste pages and pages of comments directly from RW's own mouth. She has never been shy about talking of her own life experiences. People seem to be objecting about that which RW says herself and re pasted by myself and indeed a large part of her show (which I have seen twice- therefore directly contributing financially to her 'cause') is about the interplay between narcissm, showbusiness, art and creativity and mental ill health. Do go see it, those of you who have not if and when it shows again.

Interesting that some of you have exaggerated my reasoned, un-hysterical posts into a 'character assassination'. How exactly is

I appreciate that famous people who have experienced mental health problems can be extremely powerful, effective and compassionate spokes people and help us to fight stigma and prejudice. I'm not sure that Ruby Wax is one of them a nasty, character assassination especially with regards to my final sentence? Shades of professional outrage going on here methinks.

scottishmummy · 23/03/2012 21:19

you are self aggrandizing aren't you
a mh professional simply wouldn't engage in such tittle tattle
at all

nursenic · 23/03/2012 21:31

Sorry to disillusion you but my comments are not tittle tattle. They are a combination of my own opinions, personal experience of her work and direct quotes from her (and thank goodness I don't C+P all of her many comments).

Not tittle tattle. And sorry to disillusion you, but i can assure you that MH profs (and plenty of other profs) do 'engage' in such comment and discussion. You have a very odd view of them if you believe that. We are just as entitled to question, challenge and share opinions about sites like this and people like RW as service users are.
I am not self aggrandizing, merely defending myself against your negative assumptions about my character and professional standards. Funny that you engage in the very behaviour that you accuse me of, Scottish.

scottishmummy · 23/03/2012 21:38

subjective opinion,and old quotes = tittle tattle
you are self aggrandizing and habitually refer to your work to infer status or superior knowledge.

it's all v bizarre

nursenic · 23/03/2012 21:57

That interview was from the publicity drive for her most recent show. Therefore relevant to the issue of the site which has symbiotic relationship with the show and its inception/review period.

I use my job title to show willing. I use my job title to show legal accountability via professional registration. I use my job title to show that I have given of myself to further debate/info/support into MH issues. I use my job title in order to be transparent and back up any advice/support I give especially. I offer my job title as a reassurance against MN's own warning about advice even though I am obviously aware of the obstacles to legitimacy poseed by the anonymity issue.

Your comment reveals a great deal about your own feelings, I am afraid. Sad that you have such an ugly, insecure interpretation of my being transparent about the place where my words 'come from'.

Shame on you.

scottishmummy · 23/03/2012 23:14

you cast aspersions v easily
yet accept no rebuke of your approach
how curious you're so attacking of others and use such emotive putdowns

no one online can corroborate your status or authenticity,so habitually referring to it is bit self are not acting in a professional capacity posting online mn.any competent registered practitioner knows that ones capabilities and competencies are not tested or reliably explored online

swallowedAfly · 24/03/2012 07:31

so a public personality talks about her own mental health and tries to promote awareness and destigmatise and you choose to take that person and criticise them based on your view of their character and mental health? proving the point really that speaking up and talking about your mental health problems still puts you in the line of fire for being discredited and having your personality picked apart for your troubles, even by a so called professional?

yep there's still plenty to be done isn't there?

if we all wanted to speculate you sound pretty grandiouse and like your nose is out of joint because someone else is getting recognition for something.

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