Telegraph e-paper

‘Hannah’s depression isn’t her weakness, it’s her strength’

Hannah’s boyfriend, Terence Derbyshire, on what it’s like to live with someone who suffers from depression

I LOVE IT when Hannah calls me a total f@<$ing d!<$breath because I know that her depression has lifted. When she’s wretched, she doesn’t have the energy to swear. Instead, she becomes a ‘mouse’: small, quiet and excruciatingly polite.

Initially, the management consultant in me wanted to solve her depression. I soon learnt my mistake. Firstly, it’s an insoluble illness. There’s no vaccine or herd immunity here. You have to learn to live with it. Secondly, to try to solve her depression made her the problem. What she wanted from a partner was for them to accept it and thus her.

Although I stopped trying to cure the disease, I didn’t stop trying to alleviate the symptoms. I found a solution with miraculous effectiveness: something lithe and soft that looks great with Chanel. I soothed Hannah’s black dog with a grey hound, Pimlico the whippet.

Now, however painfully withdrawn she is feeling, she has to get out of the house. When out, she is forced to interact with other humans. Walking the dog also compels her to take exercise. Atop the NHS website’s article on managing depression are ‘stay in touch’ and ‘be more active’. Pimlico truly is an emotional support dog.

Hannah’s second moodlifting pet is me. Like Pim,

I have boundless energy and a tendency to lick her face. Minor low ebbs can’t survive my high spirits. Her other great healer is work. There is nothing like a deadline for 1,200 words to rouse Hannah into action. Actors have ‘Dr Theatre’, she has Doctor Hackery.

Mental health was a taboo subject where I grew up.

I could not have been more proud than watching Hannah being presented with a medal from the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2019 for helping remove the stigma around mental illness. Depression isn’t her weakness, it’s her strength.

In My Own Words




Daily Telegraph