Jan Moir: Stars need to know real mental illness is not just being sad

JAN MOIR: Real mental illness is a tragedy. Stars need to know it’s not just being sad

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the mental health debate is that the focus is almost entirely on celebrities or sports stars or dukes suffering from the low, blue flames of ‘depression’ or ‘self-esteem’, while a furnace of terrifying insanity roars among us, almost without comment.

Out there, on the wilder shores of psychological instability, life is hard for many people; for those who are profoundly ill and for loved ones who have to deal with the consequences of that illness. Some have life-wrecking mental disorders which require endless medication, intense therapy, hospitals, clinics, plus the constant attention of qualified professionals.

Even then tragedies still happen. Like the Birmingham paediatrician jailed earlier this year for stalking a celebrity. Or the schizophrenic Bournemouth Travelodge guest who ran out of pills and murdered the hotel receptionist last December. ‘She smiled at me the wrong way,’ he said after his arrest.

Then, of course, there is Jonty Bravery, who was 17 and receiving treatment for a variety of mental afflictions when he threw a little boy off the viewing platform at the Tate Gallery in London. ‘I’m mad,’ he told horrified witnesses. No arguments there.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the mental health debate is that the focus is almost entirely on celebrities or sports stars or dukes suffering from the low, blue flames of ‘depression’ or ‘self-esteem’, while a furnace of terrifying insanity roars among us, almost without comment. Pictured: Tennis star Naomi Osaka

You have to wonder if all these troubled people, and thousands more, are getting the care they need, or if they can’t access mental health resources because the system is clogged up by teenagers feeling triggered because someone didn’t like their new haircut.

For we are in a very dangerous place with mental health, I would argue. There is too much encouragement aimed at convincing people they are suffering from something, when all they have is a big ol’ dose of reality.

Yet to claim immunity from criticism, to give yourself a free pass to the land of milky compliments and honeyed affections, all you need to do is state that your mental health is suffering. Once so declared, you are inside a bubble — untouchable.

Yes, I am afraid the Duchess of Sussex is an excellent example. So, too, is tennis player Naomi Osaka, who has refused to attend post-match press conferences because she suffers from depression and is ‘not going to subject myself to people who doubt me’.

Her supporters are full of praise. Well done, Naomi, they say. So brave of you. But is that really the case? Isn’t she just sticking her fingers in her ears, singing ‘la la la’ by refusing to take questions about that dropped point or the unforced error in the third set?

Naomi, like so many young people today, simply declines to deal with anything that displeases her and cites impaired mental health as an excuse for doing so.

Pictured: Naomi Osaka, who has refused to attend post-match press conferences because she suffers from depression and is ‘not going to subject myself to people who doubt me’

Pictured: A message posted to Twitter by Naomi Osaka after she withdrew from the French Open this week

But surely life is about compromises, about taking the rough with the smooth, the good days with the bad? You cannot inoculate yourself against criticism, the antipathy of strangers or the hostility of colleagues. Nor should you want to, or be urged to think that is a good thing to do.

Rubbing against the hard sandpaper of life is what will flatten the knots in your grain. Learning how to cope with adversity instead of running from it will make you stronger, not weaker.

Look at administrators at King’s College London, forced to apologise to teachers after sending an email featuring a picture of Prince Philip — a governor of the university since 1955.

Staff were ‘triggered’ because of his ‘historical racism’. Officials apologised after teachers complained they’d been emotionally ‘harmed’.

Where is the pushback on these issues from those within the system? Why is this nonsense indulged? Instead of dispensing regrets, why doesn’t the King’s team scream, ‘Grow up, the lot of you!’?

Increasingly, behind all this, I hear the shrill cry of the spoilt and indulged instead of the authentic voice of hurt and pain. Along with it, the panting incantations from the mental health apologists, stirring it up even more. Naomi Osaka, they say, helps others know they are not alone. Of course, they are not alone. 

Because nearly every susceptible grouch in the country is convinced they have a low-level mental health issue, one that can be used as a Kryptonite shield against censure or reproach. You are a nobody, baby, if there is nothing wrong with you.

Osaka’s supporters are full of praise. Well done, Naomi, they say. So brave of you. But is that really the case? Isn’t she just sticking her fingers in her ears, singing ‘la la la’ by refusing to take questions about that dropped point or the unforced error in the third set?

The anomaly is that you don’t have to look far to find debilitating mental illness. It is bolted through society like a mast on our leaky boat — and it is in danger of becoming capsized, its terrible currency devalued by fashionable thinking about what used to be known as everyday maladies.

There is a very big difference between someone in the grip of psychosis and someone in low spirits because life is getting them down. But you’d never guess it from all the blather that passes for debate on this subject. And that is downright dangerous.

In echoes of the BBC series Line Of Duty, a corrupt police officer who passed intelligence to organised crime gangs has been jailed for 28 months.

Mohammed Malik, 37, sold sensitive data while working as an officer for Greater Manchester Police. He was a bent copper caught bang to rights — but that didn’t stop him trying to get off by pleading that he had mental health issues. All aboard the great mental health bandwagon!

On Wednesday, the court heard his excuse that he’d been ‘affected’ by his involvement in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing. 

You’d think that might have put him off criminal wrongdoing for life, instead of actively taking part in it.

But we are all supposed to be sorry for the poor wretch. He was triggered, you see. Not his fault.

Reaction from other female tennis players to the predicament of Naomi Osaka has been interesting. Martina Navratilova says she should ‘woman up’. 

Serena Williams says she deals with it by knowing that ‘every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can. And never will. So, no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never hold a candle to me. That’s how I deal with it.’

I think that is strong and powerful. Good for her. But the way they all go on, you’d think these women were enduring torture by the Spanish Inquisition, instead of answering a volley of dreary questions from hairy-kneed tennis hacks.

Serena Williams says she deals with press conferences by knowing that ‘every single person asking me a question can’t play as well as I can. And never will. So, no matter what you say or what you write, you’ll never hold a candle to me. That’s how I deal with it.’

Time to get the skinny on Kate 

Jan Moir: Any fool can see that Kate has a fabulous figure and barely a hint of flab. Yet she is always banging on as though she were Mrs Blobby forcing herself upon horrified audiences

Spare me from Kate Winslet ‘bravely’ saying she didn’t want her tummy airbrushed in her hit TV series Mare Of Easttown.

Any fool can see that Kate has a fabulous figure and barely a hint of flab. Yet she is always banging on as though she were Mrs Blobby forcing herself upon horrified audiences.

The Real Me Me Me? This has been Kate’s theme song since a 2003 GQ cover was airbrushed to make her look slimmer. 

She was furious at the insolence. ‘I interviewed Kate six weeks ago and she was thinner than I had ever seen her, and very sexy,’ countered editor Dylan Jones at the time, a hilariously sexist response that only strengthened her argument.

Since then I’ve seen plenty of magazine covers where it looks like Kate’s face or body have been glossed or digitally altered. But that is the perfection needed in the artificial world where stars are presented like the gorgeous treasures they are. 

Kate is fighting a battle that doesn’t even exist — and we can all see through it. Imagined blemishes and all. 

Adrian Dunbar has a new role — as a retired policeman called Ridley in an eponymous ITV series. What? The Line Of Duty hero will slip out of his AC-12 blouson to star as a detective who has been nudged into early retirement after 25 years of service. 

His protégée, Acting DI Carol Farman (who she?) enlists him as a consultant on a complex murder case, and is probably no better than she should be. Shooting begins in the autumn, in more ways than one.

Not sure I am quite ready for this drastic change of character. My Ted! The head of AC-12, scourge of Carmichael and lover of lanyards reinvented as someone else?

And what about the Wee Donkey? Let’s hope he doesn’t make an ass of himself.

Keir’s tears will not win votes

Keir Starmer is desperate for votes and to be seen as a human being, not a political automaton — but is appearing on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories really the best way for him to reach out to the electorate?

After watching his performance on the ITV show, I still came away wondering about the void where his personality should be. Would anyone really be persuaded by his lachrymose turn?  

We learned that his middle name is Rodney, he wore lipstick in a New Wave band (right) and he cried when his mum died. 

Do you know what? After this, I really think that he seems a nice chap and I am going to give him my vote, said absolutely no one.

Pictured: Sir Keir Starmer, who was interviewed on Life Stories by Piers Morgan. They looked over pictures of him as a young man with his Leeds University flat mates

Views that make my head swim 

I’ve been having palpitations about the high-rise, transparent swimming pool that has just opened in London. So many fears and phobias tied up in one aquatic facility! Depth of water, cleanliness of water, other people in that water. 

Plus vertigo, transparency, possibility of body in cossie being viewed from both above and below, high winds, passing helicopter malfunction, possibility of Jason Statham drilling a hole in it and murdering everyone inside, like he did in the 2016 film Mechanic: Resurrection. 

No. Just no. I won’t be in it, near it or walking underneath it any time soon. Except in my nightmares.

Pictured: The new Sky Pool, an acrylic transparent swimming pool stretched between the 10th stories. Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms, London

Brave Britt displays her True Grit

I am so impressed with True Grit Britt Ekland. The spirited 78-year-old Swede is in the headlines this week for admitting that she ruined her face by getting fillers.

This is exactly what she told the Daily Mail back in 2016, when I went to interview her in Stockholm.

Britt is upfront about her imperfections and plastic surgery disaster for the most noble of reasons — because she sincerely wants to warn off other women. The actress had just turned 52 in 1994 when she had her lips plumped by a Paris doctor with a visiting consultancy in Harley Street, London.

Instead of the moderate treatment Britt had expected, he made multiple injections all around the rim of her lips with Articol, which he said was a ‘new dental material’.

Actually, it is a bovine collagen now regarded as risky and rarely used in the UK. And it was never approved for use in the U.S.

Despite 20 years of corrective procedures, Britt’s engorged trout pout, filled with ghastly cow gum, has proved impossible to reverse. ‘I was horrified. I was mortified. I wanted to die,’ she said. And she doesn’t want other women to feel the same way.

‘Please, don’t do it,’ she pleads.

How did she cope with her looks being ravaged? ‘I am immensely brave,’ she said. ‘I could have become an alcoholic, a drug addict or a mental wreck. I could have killed myself, but I didn’t. I got on with it — I persisted.

‘When things went wrong in my life, I pretended I was fine. When my face got wrecked, I learned how to pose and smile so it didn’t show too much. I kept going because I had to.’

Britt persisted. What a queen.

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