This weekend Stan Collymore took the brave step of tweeting about his experience of depression which struck a cord with many people, not least with me. He writes eloquently and honestly and I found it a painful thing to read, chiming as it does with my own ongoing health.
Speaking up about mental health is frightening for anyone, especially as you anticipate there might be a negative reaction from some people, but I can’t imagine how it must feel if you've got well-documented incidence of adultery and domestic violence attached to your name.
Not being a football fan, I have to admit these incidences passed me by, or at least I don’t remember the press coverage from 1998 and 2004, so when I tweeted earlier today “I might love Stan Collymore” I was taken aback to discover these things in his past and the subsequent implication that because of these things I ought to think differently about what Stan is doing. It made me pause. Can I really respect a man who cheated on his wife and beat up his girlfriend? Well yes, I can. I’m not condoning what he did, of course I’m not, but do I have faith in the idea that people can change, regret and repent for their actions? Of course I do. What kind of a world would we be in if our entire personality and moral code was based on the very worst examples of them? I doubt any of us would come up smelling of roses. Just because you’ve done bad things in your past doesn’t mean you should not be valued and supported for the good things you do in the future.
To publically discuss your depression on TalkSport radio and write about it when right in the middle of a bout is hugely commendable and an important step forward in the public comprehension of such a prolific and misunderstood illness.
The overwhelming majority of people I see tweeting about what Stan wrote are people who either have suffered depression themselves or know someone who has, and this gives me real hope that with time, and the bravery of fellow sufferers famous or otherwise, we will someday reach a point where mental health is no longer stigmatised and we who suffer are given the compassion we warrant and deserve.