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We're all aware depression is no laughing matter, right? Even those who have never experienced it are familiar with the catastrophic effects the illness can have on an individual, their family and friends. So what on earth was Helen McNallen thinking about when she launched her website www.depressioncanbefun.com? Well, for a start it wasn't to mock sufferers of the condition - she's one herself.
Having experienced both the clinical and bipolar form (severe mood swings from 'high' to 'low' and often referred to as Manic Depression), Helen, age 43, spent 12 years of misery - and a bank-balance-bashing £350,000 - before doctors finally got to grips with her condition. By that time her marriage had broken up and the formerly successful London trader was at her wit's end.
Helen is in good company. Stars who've revealed their unhappy state are the singers Alanis Morrisette and Sheryl Crowe, actresses Uma Thurman and Drew Barrymore and, of course, Mr Bipolar himself, Stephen Fry. It's become so fashionable in Hollywood, several showbiz writers have even begun to refer to depression as 'The New Black.'
My own brushes with the illness - the clinical (or unipolar) form - date back 25 years off-and-on from the age of 19 when I met with a psychiatrist for the first time. An enlightening experience, I learned how to talk about my emotions - something I'd never even considered up to that point. Therapy also taught me I wasn't alone and that there were pharmaceutical answers.
Coping with depression by Jill Stevenson