Tuesday, March 25, 2008

TO READ: No Shame around Depression

I've always felt that the way to combat the stigma around depression and other mental health conditions is to talk about them. These are illnesses, not character flaws. So I was delighted to read this week that, although she unfortunately suffered depression in her 20s, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling makes no apologies for it.

"The funny thing is, I have never been remotely ashamed of having been depressed. Never. What's to be ashamed of? I went through a really rough time and I am quite proud that I got out of that," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer quotes her as telling a British college magazine. Now that's the attitude we need see and hear more of.

Rowling, 41, said that after separating from her first husband and finding herself a single mom and struggling new writer, she experienced depression and suicidal thoughts. She reported that she sought treatment because of her daughter.

So take heart. As more and more of us are coming out with our mental health conditions, the world does gradually make progress at learning they are simply a no-fault part of life. As so many peers have said to me, no one would tell us to "pull yourself together" if we had heart disease or a kidney stone; why should a brain disorder be treated differently? Thanks for your example, Ms. Rowling.

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