My Thoughts about the Ruby Wax Documentary #4GoesMad

I watched the Ruby Wax documentary #MadConfessions this morning.  I watched it on 4 OD.  It will be available on 4 OD until about 23 August if you haven’t watched it and want to.   It is part of the Channel 4 #4GoesMad Season of programmes about Mental Illness.

It’s the only programme in this season I have watched, but I would like to watch some more.  The aim, of this season of programmes, as I understand it, is to try to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and to try to encourage more people to speak openly about Mental Health.

After seeing lots of tweets last night about the Ruby Wax film I decided I would have to watch today.

I haven’t really written anything on this blog about my mental health issues apart from my struggles to keep control of things and manage the competing priorities in my life.  I probably will talk about some of this stuff at some point, but all you need to know for now is that I do have depression and anxiety.  It was diagnosed about 3 years ago, although I probably had it for longer without knowing because I didn’t want to discuss my feelings with anyone else.  This is more information than I have ever shared with any of you whom I know in real life (except for my immediate family) so that’s the start of me talking about it.

Anyway, back to the Ruby Wax programme, I think its great that Channel 4, with the help of celebrities such as Ruby Wax want to break the stigma of mental illness, but I really felt that the programme didn’t really address the realities for many people.  I know you can’t address it all in a 50 minute documentary.  After all, we are all different.  But the fact that Ruby was treated at one of ‘The Priory’ hospitals is a million miles away from where most of us are able to go with depression.  The kinds of treatments and therapies she would have had access to there are beyond the experience of most people, who might have to wait months on an NHS waiting list for a bit of CBT, which then only focuses on one or two issues at a time.

The programme went on to engage with 3 successful business people who have Mental Health issues.  Again, this is a great idea, it demonstrates that we are all vulnerable to depression, OCD, Anxiety, Breakdowns etc. and shows that many of the people we know and work with on a daily basis may be experiencing health issues that they feel unable to discuss and be open about.  But I did feel that again it was a bit unrealistic, certainly from my own experience.

The programme explored the fact that many people do work and find ways of coping with their mental illness whilst continuing to work, but for many people this is difficult.  My own experience is that it was totally impossible to work at the time I was diagnosed.  The only thing I could do was to get my children to school and to try to ensure that their lives were not disrupted too much by my illness.  Although I have moved on a long way from then and am now working again.  I have a part-time, flexible job, but there are still sometimes where I reach a total block and am unable to function beyond the most basic tasks.  I am gradually beginning to find ways of identifying when I get to this stage and trying to find ways of to deal with it to stop it getting to the point where I can’t work, but 3 years on, I still haven’t got there.

I’m also where I am because of the job I have and the field i work in, If I had the type of career where I had to be in an office every day working with others who do not recognise the values of disability, mental health and flexibility then I don’t think I would be working at all.

I don’t mean to undermine the documentary or any of the people who took part in its filming.  I really admire them for being able to stand up and tell their colleagues about their issues, but I would like these programmes to go further and explore many of the issues that are more of a reality for many people.  Indeed, I think that the Government and Society needs to recognise that many people are able to work and contribute, but not in a traditional sense of going to an office 9 – 5 every day on a consistent basis.  Or at least they may not be able to do this all the time.

Of course the other advantage of talking about Mental illness is that many people may be able to recognise that they are unwell and seek help before it reaches crisis point, which may mean that they are able to continue to work.  It may also help people to understand how completely real mental illness is and that it isn’t just a matter of ‘pulling yourself together’.

So, did you watch the programme?  Have you experienced mental illness? and what did you think?

About Violets Diary

Visually impaired Mum, with VI hubby, 2 disabled children. Disability campaigner, novice blogger and tweeter. Trying to put the world to rights and share our journey and positive stories.
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4 Responses to My Thoughts about the Ruby Wax Documentary #4GoesMad

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and indeed your experiences. The same documentary team want to make a programme about Natty and a family with a baby with Downs Syndrome and I will try to guide them towards a more balanced view of life with a child with a learning disability.

    • Thanks for your comment Hayley, I think its hard. On the one hand we don’t want documentaries to be all about doom and gloom, tragedy and pity, but on the other hand I think they need to be realistic without glossing over the difficulties and challenges as though they are trivial and minor inconveniences. Good luck with your documentary, I think you are very brave to do it. xx

  2. solodialogue says:

    Thanks for sharing. I don’t know who Ruby Wax is but she must be a celebrity used to educate for psychological illnesses. And yet, even though we are geographically far apart, this is, sadly, a common theme for so many to have these misconceptions and prejudices.

    It’s a good thing to educate but not if the effort ends in creating more myths about the available help, treatment and coping. It must be a rather delicate balance to strike to educate and encourage those who may have feared further social isolation or believe the available help will not be worth the effort to providing a more realistic view of living with it all.

    • Yes, Ruby Wax is a celebrity who has experienced depression and has decided to talk about her experiences to try to break down stigma, but I think there is really difficult balance in terms of breaking down stigma whilst also acknowledging the very real difficulties that these conditions present for some people. I guess the same logic applies to autism and any other kind of impairment. Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to comment. 🙂

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