Dogged by the black dog

01/06/2010

“Can I ask you about the plight of Whaleoil?”  Jim Mora asked me on our discussion on the internet on Critical Mass today.

I’d been mulling over a post about him since reading Cactus Kate’s plea to Save The Whale in response to the Herald on Sunday story in response to this post by Whaleoil and comments from his wife on Gotcha.

I came across Whaleoil on the internet when I first started blogging and treated it with caution. I admired some of the posts, especially those which broke news which influenced the mainstream media. I was moved by the way he was so open about his struggle with depression but found other posts offensive.

Since then I’ve met him a couple of times. The first was at a National Party conference last year and the second, very briefly at another conference last weekend. The next day I read the HOS story and found Cactus’s post about it when I got home late that evening.

Several pennies dropped – clinical depression explains the contrasts between the intelligent and reasoned posts and the vitriolic ones.

Those who know him well have written on this. I don’t know enough to add anything on him, but I do know a bit about depression and other mental illness.

Most of us understand physical illness and have sympathy for those who are unwell.

Mental illness is different.

Those who’ve never experienced or been exposed to it find it difficult to understand and there’s often a feeling that people just need to pull themselves together.

Anyone who has been dogged by the black dog themselves, or had to cope with it in family and friends will tell you it’s not that simple and often that it’s not just the illness which is problematic, the treatment can be too.

Medication can help some people. In others it doesn’t and may cause side effects which can be as difficult to deal with as the problems it was supposed to treat. Working your way through the mental health system can be a nightmare and finding a mental health professional who can make a positive difference is another challenge.

I know stories, which aren’t mine to tell, of people’s battles with depression. From them I have some appreciation of  how difficult it is even for those who have loving and caring family and friends to support them; the frustration which even intelligent, articulate, positive  and assertive professionals who are used to dealing with complex problems in their work face in trying to help family or friends who are depressed  and how the system which ought to help so often doesn’t.

I hope Whaleoil and his family find the help they need and wish them the strength and love to tame the black dog and send it packing.

Related posts:

Keeping Stock on Helping a Fellow Blogger.

Roarprawn on Whales Tale  and Saving the Whale.

Kiwiblog on Cactus on Whale

Stepehn Franks on Whaleoil and Insurance.

Motella on Whale Wars.


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