Saturday, 8 June 2013


I'm not depressed.  I have felt sometimes desperately unhappy in recent months because of the loss of my dog, but that is lifting, and it's not depression.  It's nothing like depression, at least not my depression.  For me, depression has always been one thing: fear.  Depression for me has always been an anxiety attack that just won't end, not after hours, days, months.  It's a floating anxiety that hunts for new things to be anxious about.  I have had cosmic anxiety, a sweaty fear of imminent instant oblivion from some astronomical disaster.  I have had existential anxiety, a constant feeling of the strangeness of existence.  The fear hunts for new worries.  Meanwhile, I'm curled up trying desperately not to think, not to feel - a state that can last for weeks or even months.  It seems a paradox that while I'm feeling so very tired (another symptom of depression) my mind can work so hard to generate anxiety.

I'm lucky.  There are drugs that suit me and that deal with depression pretty quickly when it starts.  It's not a chronic condition for me.  Because when you are out of depression it's hard to recall what it felt like, I can't imagine how awful it must be for people like Stephen Fry who have chronic depression.

Depression is nothing to be ashamed of.  It's an illness, just like diabetes is an illness.  Some people have forms that can be managed, some don't.  But what we do need is much more openness about the illness so that there is no shame in admitting you have it, and no hesitation in getting help.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Same-sex marriage - the poison of 'conscience'

It looks certain now that same-sex marriage will become legal in the UK very soon.  This is a huge step forward for equality and should also give less ammunition to those who will continue to insist that same-sex relationships are inferior or wicked.  

However.. there will be legal protection, it is said, for those who don't wish to teach about same-sex relationships or perform marriage ceremonies on the basis of conscience.  This sounds reasonable, but it really isn't.  If the purpose of the new laws on same-sex marriage will be to give equality to same-sex relationships then there is no excuse for providing support for those who reject such equality.  'Conscience' is no justification for rejecting equality.  In the past, there has been rejection of rights for women and support for racist views on the basis of conscience.  There would be no acceptance of conscience-based racism these days.  

One of the justifications for same-sex marriage is to help reduce bigotry, and yet some of the most poisonous bigotry comes from those who denounce same-sex relationships as wicked.  It's the 'consciences' of such people that is a real problem.

There is either equality or there is not.  Equality except for protection of those who reject equality for religious reasons is not true equality.