The mystery that is Suzy Favor Hamilton
I don’t know very much about depression. Sure, there are days when I’m blue, some when I’m pissed at the world – watching the murder of 6 and 7 year olds will do that to you – and days when my wife is away and I’m lonely. But that’s not depression. What I do know is we cast a pretty wide net when we talk about it, and there are too many armchair psychologists around who are seldom right but never in doubt. Keep them at arm’s length.
Like many, the recent news about Suzy Favor Hamilton blindsided me. It was baffling, a real head-scratcher, and painfully upsetting. Amazingly, our company has five clients who have employed her – some quite regularly. I don’t need to name them, you already know who they are. And yes, our team of public relations professionals worked round-the-clock after the news broke. It certainly heightens the talk about depression, and not always in a good way.
Just the other day, David Letterman told Charlie Rose, and thus told the world, “It’s different than feeling sad. It’s different than feeling blue. It’s really like a friend of mine says, it’s the world with 20/20 vision.” I don’t know what that means, I can’t, but it doesn’t sound like a walk in the park.
I was sitting at the bar in a prominent downtown restaurant the other night, a martini in one hand, my wife’s hand in the other, listening to the table behind me making light of the Favor Hamilton situation. How on earth can people make light of a situation that’s so dark? It’s no wonder the stigma of mental illness is so persistent. Our national pastime of passing judgment won’t ever help the cause.
I found Suzy Favor Hamilton to be a gosh-darn good pitchwoman. Enthusiastic, engaging, and accommodating. And many other marketing people did too. That’s the mystery in all of this, and maybe it’s part of the mystery of mental illness.
I find comfort writing about things I know about – sports, advertising, politics, movies, and the occasional Broadway musical. I’m not comfortable writing about depression, although I am comfortable writing about people who think they have all the answers, when they usually don’t. Let’s tone down the chatter and tune up the understanding. In the end, we’re all looking for the same things – a life of contentment, a few lucky breaks along the way, and a little understanding when things go sideways.
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