Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Is Stephen Fry mad?

He said he was mad, jokingly, as he exuberantly bought his seventeenth iPod on BBC2's A Secret life of the manic depressive. Of course he isn't (mad) and this two-part programme served enormously to help the public understand manic depressives. Stephen Fry is to be warmly congratulated. He even allowed the cameras to record him as he suffered from a bout of depression in Aberdeen. It was very brave of him to go to Aberdeen (joke!) and very brave to be filmed in such a state.

The programme explored "solutions" for what is sometimes called bipolar disorder. These included medicine and Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Stephen said that he thought CBT wasn't for him.

But I do hope that he does follow up and have some CBT. It certainly won't do him any harm. He is likely to find it a gentle, unintrusive series of chats that help him understand his personality and work towards ways of diminishing self-damaging extremes of mood in future.


  1. I have to say CBT wasn't for me either, but then I wasn't bi-polar. While the CBT wasn't doing any harm, it was never going to change any of the facts that were getting me depressed. It was never going to change how I thought about them either.

    That said, I agree: it was an excellent and very revealing programme.

  2. Thanks for your comments anon. It doesn't help everyone.

  3. CAT (Cognitive Analytical Therapy) helped me a lot with depression. I didn't get onto the behavioural stuff because the councillor left the service I was attending... A few weeks of CAT though and practicing the ideas in the months afterwards helped me gain more of a foothold on life.
    I could then identify situations which weren't helping, so I managed to escape them.
    A few years down the road, I'm still on high doses of anti-depressents, but these combined with CAT and general councilling have enabled me to stabalise my moods to a fairly happy default state with very few depressive episodes.

    I don't think I'll ever be 100% free, but I can now hold down a job, interact with people better and live my life independantly. All looked out of my reach 2 or 3 years ago.

    Mental illnesses are very personal, different approaches work for different people. Medication has its place, best described to me as a crutch or plaster cast to enable healing to occur.
    Counselling, CAT, CBT and other therapies help different people, and it can take time to find the right person to do it with you (I've had some great councillors and some who just made me more depressed).

    Its a long hard road, but with the right help you can come to a stable state, if not a cure. Unfortunately, mental health seems to be at the bottom of NHS priorities and still carries a stigma.

  4. (oh and the above post is a different anonymous to the first :) )

  5. Thank you Anon2. That is a very heartening tale and I must admit I hadn't heard of CAT before you mentioned it.

    Hopefully the recent report urging the recruitment of more therpists on the NHS, may help - see