Following on from this bundle of fun, I caught sight of a couple of tabloid headlines yesterday about Gary Speed which made me very, very angry.
Gary Speed’s agent has apparently been talking to any journalist who will listen about how, as far as he knew, Gary Speed didn’t suffer from depression, was happily married and hadn’t argued with his wife before he apparently hanged himself.
a) It is entirely possible for someone to be depressed without their close friends knowing. The stigma and a sense of ‘not wanting to let the side down’ can often lead to depressed people putting all their energies into maintaining a ‘normal’ facade. But boy, you should see us the second we’re alone.
b) I have no idea whether Gary Speed was depressed or not. It seems to be the assumption because, even though he hadn’t (as far as I can make out) mentioned it in public, something evidently wasn’t right. If he was, and chose to keep it private, I can understand why family and friends might continue a policy of denial even after his death. On the other hand, since his agent appears to be equating ‘he hadn’t rowed with his wife, I can’t understand it’, said agent appears to have no fucking clue about depression and I could understand if Speed, if he was depressed, chose not to share something that would presumably have involved lengthy explanations. You don’t have the energy for that crap when you’re depressed.
c) What if Gary Speed had argued with his wife? Is the implication we’re meant to draw from these headlines that if he hanged himself after a blazing row – what, would it therefore have been his wife’s fault? Case closed, end of story? No need to bother with wondering about the internal thought processes that could have led from ‘a row’ to ‘suicide’? Bugger that, let’s vilify the wife?
No, we might not. But this is the headline to a story that goes on to quote Jonathan Ford, head of the Football Association of Wales:
He was a family man. He loved his wife and children.
And suddenly we know the kind of ‘why’ the Star is looking for. Maybe they’ll get it. Maybe it will turn out that Gary Speed had serious financial difficulties, or was being blackmailed by a Russian oligarch. But if it turns out to be mental illness, I bet the Star will still shrug and go ‘don’t understand it’.
What makes me even angrier is that anyone who is depressed seeing these headlines, working on the current assumption that Gary Speed was depressed, could be further reinforced in a belief that their depression is not valid. How can it be, when there must be a reason? The idea that depression is a reason in itself? Apparently not worthy of discussion.
Christ almighty, we’ve still got a long way to go.