Perhaps unusually for this blog I want to congratulate a councillor, in this case Cllr Mick Newton, for telling his story of his own struggle with mental illness in today's Post.
It's rarely an easy decision for anybody to be public about suffering from mental health problems, as Cllr Newton says, "...some have treated [him] as though I have the plague." It's probably even more risky for someone in public life to do so but so often, that's the only way people find out how debilitating depression and other mental health problems can be. Very often depression is seen as the 'least serious' of mental illnesses and, while I acknowledge that its effects are less dramatic than those of, say, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, it can be very disabling and sometimes deadly; suicide is approximately 5 times more likely for someone with depression compared to the general population (6% vs 1.3%).
Regular readers of this blog will know that I suffer from depression and I recognise many of the experiences that Cllr Newton describes in his article. Unfortunately, one of the many people and/or organisations (along with Nadine Dorries) that shows a lack of understanding of my own illness is Nottingham City Council. This combined with the fact that it was them that caused my illness in the first place is a cause of considerable, um, frustration for me.
There's no point in pretending that the establishment of this blog had nothing to do with this frustration and anger at my treatment at their hands. However, I always wanted to ensure that it was very much a way of channeling this anger into something useful rather than just be a ranty mess. It is a ranty mess in places I accept but I do believe I am starting to have a small effect in making NCC accountable for some of the dodgy things it does. I think that's more constructive than taking a baseball bat to Lisa Black's face (as a hypothetical example of a completely unacceptable reaction) and, as an added bonus, it's less likely to end up with me being Big Ron's 'special friend' in the prison showers.
I don't know how things are going to end up in the long run. I have yet to find a route out of this situation and it's certainly not helped by NCC's ongoing abuse of statutory processes to harass me. I'm very pleased that Cllr Newton is back on his feet but unfortunately I feel a little way off that just yet.
Please note - it is Mental Health Awareness Week, the Post has a list of events and activities here.