Posted 03 October 2003 - 05:43 PM
I will try and explain why I am interested.
Initially, my thinking started with something Iím trying to write and I wanted to look at suicide or mental distress involving a fictional female character during the Great War. I wanted to find out what she might have done and how the problems affecting her state of mind might have been perceived by her contemporaries. My search for information led only to superficial anecdotal material of the sort I could have obtained quite easily had I been able to chat to elderly people about perceived skeletons in their family cupboards. Other information was melodramatic or sentimental. Much contemporary fictional writing deals with unhappiness, but this is not depression.
Secondly, I am involved in mental health care in the UK both as a service user and a volunteer. I have been extremely well supported by my mental health medical professionals both in and out of hospital; and the more I reflected on this and thought about my fictional character, the more it led me to wonder about how I would have managed had I been faced with the traumas and pressures of women in that period: bereavement, the return of a lover maimed or radically changed, poverty, child-rearing, post-natal depression, miscarriage, fatigue, inadequate support from an injured husband, separation and anxiety, alcohol, life with a depressed or traumatised partner; as well as psychiatric conditions which we would recognise and treat, such as clinical depression or bipolar depression.
This then led me to think about the experience of men, in the ways that some of you have mentioned above.
I wanted to consider factors such as medical intervention (if any), stigma, the role of religion, what predisposed a person to risk, the social and cultural expectations of a person in mental distress, the uncertainty and even hopelessness of living in a world which may have been perceived to be falling apart.
This is, I realise, a superficial statement, but I felt I should address the query about why I was interested.
Thank you very much for your replies so far.