Thursday, 4 July 2013

LETTERS OF NOTE: 20 Tips for Depression

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In the first of two posts around Letters of Note, I'd like to move away from film and theatre for a moment, and turn to a subject that is frequently portrayed in both media: mental illness and depression.

There's been a fair bit in the news recently about depression, following Stephen Fry's admission that he attempted suicide last year. Fry has done a lot to publicise the disease, through his documentary The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive and his role as the president of Mind. I wonder what he would make of the advice given by the author of this Letter of Note.
In 1820 the essayist and clergyman Sydney Smith received word that his good friend Lady Georgiana Morpeth (wife to the Viscount Morpeth) was suffering from a bout of depression. Smith responded with a letter listing 20 things that she should do that would alleviate her condition, at least temporarily.
The full list of Smith's advice can be found here, along with links to letters on a similar theme by Fry himself and by novelist Henry James. If you're looking for a detailed cinematic examination of depression, the best place to start is Kyle Kallgren's two-part review of Lars von Trier's Melancholia, which can be found here and here.

Daniel

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