Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A Manic Depressive Writes

(This post was originally posted by Scott Willison on the Coronation Street Blog in November 2014.)

It's rare that I find a connection between Corrie and my own life.  Weatherfield is a heightened world that exists outside the norm; I have no long-lost relatives, I've never had a baby or been divorced, and a tram has never fallen on my head.  Admittedly, I did once club an ex-boyfriend to death with a tacky statuette, but that was ages ago.

Steve's current battle with depression has hit home quite badly.  I'm suddenly seeing parts of my life on screen.  The doctor's questionnaire, the resigned looks, the fear of madness.  The sheer terror of that first panic attack.  I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety five years ago, and since then I've had it infiltrate every part of my existence.  Watching Steve go through the same symptoms as I did is strange; like seeing myself from the outside.

Depression is different for every person.  The way Steve feels though - the absence of joy, the lack of engagement, the constant desire to crawl under the bed clothes and stay there - it's really familiar.  Depression doesn't make you "sad"; it makes you nothing.  It hollows you out and leaves you empty.  The happiest experiences of your life become irrelevant, and you can't understand why people want to spend time with someone like you.  You're worthless.  Nothing.

I got help.  Thank goodness for the NHS.  I got regular doses of anti-depressants, and I saw a psychiatrist and a counsellor.  I had to give up work but luckily I had a caring partner who helped and supported me.

Which is where Steve's been let down, of course.  Michelle's complete lack of sympathy for Steve is heartbreaking for him and revolting for us as viewers.  Right from the start it's all been about her.  "Steve's not very talkative - it must be because he's going off me!"  She's motoring along in Michelle world and doesn't spot that there is something significantly wrong with the man she supposedly loves; she's not even suggested that he see a doctor.  No, as far as Michelle is concerned, Steve's just doing all this to annoy her.  I hope she stays kipping on Carla's sofa or, better yet, gets a job on another cruise ship.  That sinks.

More upsetting is Liz's attitude, which seems to come out of plot contrivance rather than actual characterisation.  I find it hard to believe that Liz wouldn't be more sensitive to her son's change in personality.  I'd be interested to hear what Beverley Callard - who's suffered from mental health issues herself - would have to say on the matter.

It's good to see Corrie deal with an issue that affects people across the country, but doesn't get the same levels of sympathy that other illnesses get.  "Pull yourself together" is most people's idea of how to deal with it and let me tell you, it's not that easy.  I'm getting better, and I hope Steve does too.

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Anonymous said...

it may be a way to transition Michelle into someone a little more likeable as a partner for Steve

Daithi_c said...

I had a physical problem which created a mental issue also, surrounded by trite "It's all about attitude" useless comments. Luckily I got a doctor who helped the physical problem go into remission which helped the mental issue fade. It must be hard to empathize with others unless you've been there yourself, or have cared about someone who's been there.
Liz showed how important it is to LISTEN (we have 2 eyes and 2 ears, and only 1 mouth, so we're supposed to LOOK and LISTEN twice as much as TALK).

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