It seems to be a part of our human nature to be interested in famous, highly visible people who share an illness we have. Maybe it makes us feel more valiated, more "normal." Depression is no exception to this.
London's The Sunday Times published an article this week about JK Rowling's strugge with and treatment for depression. Rowling is the author of the incredibly popular Harry Potter series. At the time the first of the series was published, she lived in a tiny apartment in Edinbugh with her young daughter Jessica. Today, she is one of the world's wealthiest women.
Rowling has spoken before about her struggle with depression, but this interview was different. Here, she opened up about having contemplated taking her own life. Rowling said,
"Mid-twenties life circumstances were poor and I really plummeted... The thing that made me go for help... was probably my daughter. She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn't right, this can't be right, she cannot grow up with me in this state."
When she sought help, she found that her general practitioner was unavailable. The doctor covering for her was very dismissive, saying only "If you ever feel a bit low, come and speak to the practice nurse." When her own doctor returned two weeks later, she phoned her and helped her get counseling. Rowling shared that,
"She absolutely saved me because I don't think I would have had the guts to go and do it twice."
Rowling also made a statement that I hope each of us can take a page from her and make about ourselves,
"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."
Depression is not feeling sad. Depression is a real illness, deserving of proper care and respect from our doctors. If our doctors are dismissive, we need to fire their sorry butts and find doctors who take us and our health seriously.
Thank you, Ms. Rowling, for speaking out so openly. Brava!
MacDonald, Stuart. "I contemplated suicide, says Harry Potter creator, JK Rowling." The Sunday Times. London. March 23, 2008.