Sunday 14 March 2010

Mother's ruin

15st 5lb, 2.2 units. On Friday I drove to Newcastle for a haircut. Extravagant, I know, given that I was starting from south Cheshire. Indeed, if we factor in the cost of the petrol it would no doubt have been cheaper to have my hair styled in the comfort of my own home by a topless Page 3 model (she might not actually know what to do with a pair of scissors and a comb – but who cares?) I shall certainly bear that possibility in mind for next time. But at least the journey also enabled me to pick up my mail, water the plants and have an agreeable lunch with an old friend in Corbridge on my way back yesterday, as well as making a small contribution to Not Saving The Planet.

Today, being Mothering Sunday, we went to church, where Rick the Vic conducted part of his sermon as a multiple-choice quiz, and then had lunch with Mrs H’s mother (plus father and brother) in a country pub whose portion control systems had evidently blown a gasket. I could barely move by the time I had forced down a bowl of crumble and custard to follow my groaning plateful of roast beef. At least enough heavy hints had been dropped for The Baby to have remembered to ask me to buy and write a suitable card on his behalf, so we were all still on speaking terms at the end of the meal.

After a respectable amount of time lying around groaning, I recovered enough to attempt a column for Tuesday’s Newcastle Journal. As I was still feeling more than a little lacking in inspiration, it was lucky that I had picked up a copy of Friday’s paper and could devote myself to responding to an angry letter from some woman who had been “left … feeling extremely indignant and offended” by my column earlier this week. “Having worked with countless people suffering from clinical depression, I can assure him that it is most definitely not ‘self-indulgent’ and the view that those with depression are ‘allowing themselves the luxury of wallowing in misery’ couldn’t be further from the truth.” Well, that’s good to know.

“Hann’s column was extremely offensive and insensitive to anyone suffering from depression and just showed the ignorance displayed among many members of the general population, who prefer to found their beliefs on stereotypes and prejudices.”

Really? Well, blow me down. And there was me thinking that I actually knew a bit about what I was writing about for once, what with having suffered from clinical depression for the best part of 40 years and run through all the treatment options from A to Y including drugs, counselling, psychiatry and cognitive behavioural therapy. But not, luckily, Option Z, which would be becoming one of the “countless people” worked with by this particular lady.

You know what I find offensive, madam? Being called “Hann” as though I were a common criminal. Only I think I read somewhere that even the courts and prisons have recently been instructed to accord offenders the dignity of a title, lest they sue for an infringement of their human rights.

Where is my solicitor’s phone number?


CC said...

Its always a treat to encounter a writer who accepts criticism with such grace and humility.

Clinical Depression is due to altered brain chemistry, just as diabetes is due to altered
pancreatic chemistry. Simplistic explanation, perhaps, but helpful in understanding that mental illness is really physical and no easier to treat by pulling up one's boots, than is diabetes et al.

From over the Pond, CC

Keith Hann said...

Absolutely true. But just as diabetics can help themselves by eating sensibly, there are a range of simple practical measures which, in my sadly extensive expensive, depressives can adopt to alleviate their condition. This seems to me to be a more positive approach than what I might be tempted to describe as wallowing in victimhood, if I did not have a deep fear of being controversial.

CC said...

Whatever gets you through (and doesn't scare the horses....)