My rage at John Waters' dated rhetoric and old-school ignorance

IT has always struck me as a bit unseemly when people in the same profession go for each other in print or online. So I never have.

Far better to read about the spats, twitchforkings, and all out assaults on one journalist or broadcaster from another, rather than wade in with an opinion.

For John Waters, the former Irish Times columnist engaged in a one-man propaganda campaign to make himself even more unpopular, I will make an exception. Whatever he thinks about equal marriage is an opinion to which he is entitled.

But calling depression “bullshit“’ “an invention”, “a cop out” — as he did in a recent newspaper interview, when asked if he may be suffering from it — is not a statement I could read without reacting, without experiencing waves of rage.

Rage at such old-school ignorance from someone with such a public voice; rage that this voice considers it appropriate to propagate this ignorance in the public domain; rage that anyone, never mind a supposedly respected journalist, could come out with this level of dated rhetoric.

People die because of such statements. People — men, a lot of the time — who may not have the emotional wherewithal to seek help for their depression read a statement like that, condemning their mental ill-health to a bullshit invention cop-out, and so they soldier on, because boys don’t cry and men don’t get depressed.

Except they do, and when they become depressed they are significantly more likely than women to kill themselves, as we all know from the grisly statistics. And from personal experience too. My ex-husband and I both had depression.

He ignored his, kept it secret as it worsened, never sought treatment, until one day he went to a quiet place outdoors and hung himself. I took mine to the doctor, got Prozac, and got better. Because of what John Waters calls a bullshit cop-out invention, my kids have only got one parent. Luckily for them, I do “believe” in depression, the same as I “believe” in asthma, alcoholism, diabetes, whatever.

After my ex-husband died from untreated depression, I spent time with a group of 12 parents whose partners had also killed themselves.

There was only one man in this group. The other 11 were women, whose experiences largely reflected my own — the fathers of their children had never given any indication that they were depressed, never mind suicidal.

Maybe they were afraid of looking like they were inventing a bullshit cop-out. They are all dead now.

John Waters, you could always read my book — The Liberty Tree — about what happens when depression is ignored.



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