JK Rowling ‘close to suicide’

JK RowlingHarry Potter author JK Rowling has admitted she came close to committing suicide when she was struggling as a single mum in the days before the ‘boy wizard’ became a household name.

Now, obviously this story has been used to highlight how difficult life can be for single mums and that you should never give up hope, because things do get better.

What I find interesting about this is that JK has admitted this. She’s reputedly someone who shies away from the spotlight and rarely gives interviews, so it’s all the more of a surprise that she’d confess to something as ‘big’ as suicide.

The admission dovetails neatly with Mental Health Week and is a stark reminder that anyone can suffer from this sort of condition, no matter how rich or famous.

I know ‘mental health’ is still a dirty word to some people and to admit that you suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts or something similar is tantamount to weakness, but the sooner people get used to it being part of everyday life the better.

Prozac debate: a personal view

ProzacAlthough the outcome is actually nothing new, a new study has concluded that Prozac is next to useless for those suffering with depression.

I’ve suffered from depression over the past few years and, on one occasion, I was prescribed Prozac.

Ironically enough, I didn’t realise that’s what I was taking, because the doctor who wrote the prescription used the non-brand name for the drug, fluoxetine.

I stayed on it around a year before deciding that my need for it was at an end.

Did it work? Well, that’s tough to say. Certainly my symptoms slowly receded and my mood lifted, but whether that was down to the drug or various other factors is impossible to ascertain.

What I found more interesting, and scary, was a recent visit to a new doctor.

I went to talk to him about possible ways to treat SAD and wondered what his views were.

I suggested St John’s Wort to him and his surprising riposte was something along the lines of: ‘Why not just take Prozac?’

Now this shocked me. My use of anti-depressants has tended to be as a last resort, assuming them to be of some benefit. I hate the fact that I am having to use a chemical to treat something, but accept that depression can often be a chemical imbalance that needs to be righted.

SAD, on the other hand, is seasonal and lasts a mere 3-4 months usually. The thought of popping Prozac as a way of stopping that appals me far more.

The fact that my (young and fairly clued up) doctor likened taking St John’s Wort, a naturally-occurring treatment, to Prozac makes me realise how willy-nilly the drug has been handed out.

Perhaps this new report will make my doctor and many others think twice before prescribing a seemingly useless, yet addictive drug.

Fry’s delight

It was Stephen Fry night on BBC4 last weekend and, among other features, there was a very candid interview conducted by the critic Mark Lawson with Mr Fry.

Although they covered many subjects, one of the most interesting and illuminating for me was Stephen Fry’s much-publicised depression.

I’ve always found Fry an entertaining and extraordinary man – his intelligence and wit make him a bit of a hero of mine – and his battle with bipolar disorder make his achievements even more amazing.

As someone who has also suffered from depression, it was interesting and refreshing to hear someone so famous and revered talking about symptoms that rang so true for me. Admittedly, my experiences and symptoms have never been as crippling as Stephen Fry’s, but to hear him talking about how normal it has always felt to have suicidal thoughts really hit home.

Admitting you’ve had thoughts of that ilk is looked upon as quite scary by those who don’t understand, but it’s always felt quite normal to me.

I love QI and many of Fry’s other artistic achievements, but thank goodness for Stephen Fry where depression is concerned.