Ghosts of Depression

Learn how I beat Depression

Sometimes it is just too late before we recognise what was there in front of us all that time. I’ve seen too many of those around me let it take hold and let it take control of the implement of its inevitable winning out, if it goes unnoticed by those around you. The term inevitable in particular refers to the weak, those that shouldn’t be left to face this battle.

Last year, I as a journalist in a large town in Ireland was doing a simple photo op on a Saturday afternoon, I wasn’t supposed to be working, but I needed a little colour snapshot, some smiling faces to contrast against a very serious and possibly distressing page 10 news story. I always tried that, I never wanted my words and my decisions about what was to go on the pages to influence the mood of my 50,000 readers in a negative way.

What would happen would disturb me, and I would feel so crap about myself for not going on to take a ‘Lifeguard’ course which was being offered by Depression Battlers in my town, people who I had met, interviewed, people who had loved and lost in the battles against depression, people who had lost people very close to them. They had offered me the chance to take this ‘Lifeguard’ course and one of the main words which would haunt me when I would think back after that Saturday afternoon was that it would teach how to recognise the symptoms of depression.

Its purpose was to recognise and arm with tools that could be used to help the other person, help them through ourselves, or go about and get the assistance and err the individual towards that professional assistance. It bloody haunts me still, but I was too busy, busy doing nothing, when I should have done one of the most important things that I would ever do.

That Saturday afternoon I went along to find this photo op, nothing major just a bunch of hairdressers clubbing together in a little wooden hut in the main shopping centre. They were dishing out haircuts in aid of the Haiti earthquake relief effort. 10 quid a piece, good value, good cause and all that, you might laugh at how this might have been ‘news,’ but I’m a good photographer, and spoke to one of the girls to help me out in organising the shot.

The girl I spoke to was a blond, a big girl but a pretty girl all the same. I don’t know why I think that is important to say it is just that I didn’t know her, I’m not going to print her name, I wonder how her parents would feel about that. We would all be left to wonder why, I spoke to her and I was so engrossed in getting a shot worthy of my page ten that I didn’t see the weepiness, I looked past the low voice as though she was almost too timid to be proud of having one. I didn’t see in her face behind those eyes that there was something severely troubling her. I didn’t know that my taking that shot she helped me in setting up what may have been a nail in the coffin.

Yeah coffin, I took the shot everyone smiled, held up their charity buckets, I went back to this fine blonde young woman and asked her to tell me the names of everyone in the shot. I recorded her words into my camera using the video record function to take in the sound. On Monday afternoon as I got the paper ready for print, all was as usual frenzied in the office before Tuesday’s print. I uploaded the video file from my phone and set my hands over the buttons of my keyboard to type straight in the names. Name after name of some eight persons in the shot I think, but when it came to her name the recording was ghostlike, I say that and I mean that. I don’t believe in anything supernatural but having been so close to that, it unnerves me now and my arm hair is standing on edge as I recount this to you. It was like the voice with her name didn’t really exist anymore, a whisper that just faded out, no problem with the technology, I couldn’t make out the name and like the bad Editor I was under pressure I went to print without it.

Tuesday just after the paper was ‘put to bed’ we got a call from one of the hairdressers asking us if the photo had made it to the paper, telling us that one of the girls in the paper was no longer with us, having done something stupid to herself over the weekend. I immediately knew who she was talking of, I wish I had known then what I should have known then, I wish I had the power to do something for her and that power was in being able to see the symptoms of depression.

I should have seen them I should have made an impact on that girl’s life, I probably did in hindsight and in that photo whatever way she felt about her image at that time, its going to be in front of the faces of 50,000 people who she ‘knew’ would be judging her on this appearance. Did that put the next nail in?

Learn how I beat Depression

1 Comment

  1. Cathy
    Posted March 25, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Very moving-can you honour her memory by using your profession to draw attention to the need for awareness? It is not your fault but you can still help. Thank you for sharing this.

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