SIR – The latest to come to our notice with his ‘god-but-I’ve-suffered’ celebrity status is Al Porter, a comedian I’d never heard of until I read about him in The Sunday Independent (November 20th).
Al is telling us he was depressed for years, yet is still so young it’s as if to seem he hasn’t lived yet and is only still learning. Be that as it may, he simply describes a period of his existence which is common to most people – that which we call a rocky time of life. And, yes, young people are not immune from desperate worry and feelings of helplessness.
But there is a tendency in this age of rampant self-pity and self-publicity, coupled with career-orientated ‘confession of the soul’ rubbish, which might do no harm and could help tickets sales and the like, especially if there are no really damaging incidences which can be verified or applied.
I call it the ‘Facebook Status’ of ‘legend and ‘respect’ and, if a young person finds themselves on the edge of suicide and utter despair, they are classed as ‘heroic’ without any plan for help being offered.
Such an illustration is a serious matter, but when ‘celebs’ sound off, it is simply trifling. The reason for this is because there are no deep concerns from which we can draw conclusions.
Shaking a bottle of anti-depressants at us and saying he is not doing this as a publicity-enhancing strategy, because Al has already sold out his upcoming shows, speaks for itself.
It is not only young folk like Al (whom I feel will one day regret being so hasty as to ‘admit’ he felt unhappy for a while), who throw themselves upon the hoped-for sympathy of the general population and fans, with a view to keeping the face in the media. It’s become almost an industry all of its own to spot the celeb who has suffered most.
To say they do this to help others is utter nonsense, because they do it to help themselves on a number of levels. Throughout my longish life, I have known many people who are unknown in the media, yet have suffered – in the truest sense – the most horrendous mental health issues, and have not sought or were invited to blab, so awful and private are their stories caused by just being alive.
The best they / we ever hope for is to get through the pain, with themselves and their loved-ones, coping as best they can. Depression and mental health is too serious a national issue to be giving it the all-too-often ‘sob-story remedy’ into the hands of the well known and little-known actors and performers.
There is the aspect of such people being always on the stage and this is also the reality of their ‘altruistic forays,’ which cannot be seen in any other context.