Brighton and Hove politician speaks out about depression battle

The Argus: Brighton and Hove politician speaks out about depression battle Brighton and Hove politician speaks out about depression battle

A city political heavyweight has spoken out about her battle with depression following the revelation that Stephen Fry attempted suicide last year.

Caroline Penn, pictured, who is the chairman of the Brighton and Hove Labour Party, blogged about her experience on Thursday and urged others in the same position to seek help.

Since then she has received thousands of hits on her site and has been contacted with messages of support from political friends and foes from across the city.

She said: “I was worried about exposing my private life but I think it is important to be open and talk about depression.

“If it encourages others to seek help then that can only be a good thing.”

She explained that she suffered a series of personal tragedies three years ago including the death of her grandmother and a miscarriage following IVF treatment.

At the time she “shrugged it off” with a “stiff upper lip”.

However, having never really dealt with the issues, she descended into a crippling depression at the start of this year.

She said: “I was unable to sleep. Every night my brain refused to switch off. I’d lay awake, dark thoughts going round and round. During the day I felt utterly drained and struggled to function.

“I tweeted, checked my emails, Facebook anything to keepmyrestless mind from sinking lower and lower. My work suffered as I constantly looked for a distraction from my thoughts.”

Intervention

The staunch Labour activist had planned to put hernameforward to contest the Kemptown constituency, but had to pull out.

She began arguing with friends and family and said she felt like she “couldn’t relate to anyone”.

It was at this point that her loved ones intervened and told her to seek help.

She visited her GP and was prescribed the antidepressant drug citalopram.

She added: “That was about three to four weeks ago. It has been really difficult, the drugs don’t start working straight away and they made me feel quite ill.

“I was signed off work and struggled with a series of panic attacks.

“But I’m feeling better.”

The outspoken Labour activist, who is known for her stinging attacks and fierce debates on Twitter, admitted she was concerned about the political reaction.

She said: “I was worried that people would see it as more than an illness and think that it in some way impacts on my judgement. This hasn’t been the case.

“There should be no stigma attached to depression. It is an illness and one that can be treated.”

She added: “I’m not completely better. I still have dark days andmy confidence hasn’t entirely returned.

“But I know two things which give me hope: I will get better and that I have some of the most amazing friends and family.”

Comments (9)

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8:11am Tue 11 Jun 13

Mrs Newcastle says...

Depression can sometimes be a symptom of undiagnosed Autism / Aspergers in Adults
Depression can sometimes be a symptom of undiagnosed Autism / Aspergers in Adults Mrs Newcastle

8:57am Tue 11 Jun 13

Cave Johnson says...

The spelling and grammar in this article is depressing.
The spelling and grammar in this article is depressing. Cave Johnson

9:00am Tue 11 Jun 13

Bt'n-breezy says...

It is a lot harder for people suffering from schizophrenia to openly discuss their problem because a significant part of the national media in has 'framed' them as having a greater incidence of violence than the general population. They are no more violent and greater efforts should be made to remove this myth.
It is a lot harder for people suffering from schizophrenia to openly discuss their problem because a significant part of the national media in has 'framed' them as having a greater incidence of violence than the general population. They are no more violent and greater efforts should be made to remove this myth. Bt'n-breezy

9:58am Tue 11 Jun 13

Maureen Jenner says...

Depression is a silent witness in so many lives.

There is also an all pervading stigma attached to this illness, as perhaps there is not to any other, resulting in an overwhelming sense of guilt that one should be able to cope so it becomes an illness about which there is a reluctance to speak.

It is then that a good listener becomes a good therapist. If no listener, then resort to a pen and paper; keeping a daily journal and writing anything and everything is a therapy in itself.

Get the weight off your mind by a daily blog under a pseudonym - as long as you don't use it to abuse someone else.
Depression is a silent witness in so many lives. There is also an all pervading stigma attached to this illness, as perhaps there is not to any other, resulting in an overwhelming sense of guilt that one should be able to cope so it becomes an illness about which there is a reluctance to speak. It is then that a good listener becomes a good therapist. If no listener, then resort to a pen and paper; keeping a daily journal and writing anything and everything is a therapy in itself. Get the weight off your mind by a daily blog under a pseudonym - as long as you don't use it to abuse someone else. Maureen Jenner

10:35am Tue 11 Jun 13

yourenotfrombrighton says...

I'd be depressed if I was a Labour politician.
I'd be depressed if I was a Labour politician. yourenotfrombrighton

10:49am Tue 11 Jun 13

Martha Gunn says...

Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly.
Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly. Martha Gunn

11:17am Tue 11 Jun 13

Ashles says...

Martha Gunn wrote:
Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly.
Who's that?
[quote][p][bold]Martha Gunn[/bold] wrote: Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly.[/p][/quote]Who's that? Ashles

11:38am Tue 11 Jun 13

Martha Gunn says...

Ashles wrote:
Martha Gunn wrote:
Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly.
Who's that?
Nominations are open.
[quote][p][bold]Ashles[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Martha Gunn[/bold] wrote: Alas we have one loathsome individual who loiters around the margins of Brighton politics who persistently uses cyberspace to abuse women quite horribly.[/p][/quote]Who's that?[/p][/quote]Nominations are open. Martha Gunn

1:26pm Tue 11 Jun 13

whereisthe...? says...

Yeah, what is the poster on about trying to turn everything into a sexism issue? Theres none of that here thankfully, so far? Explain yourself.
Yeah, what is the poster on about trying to turn everything into a sexism issue? Theres none of that here thankfully, so far? Explain yourself. whereisthe...?

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