Yorkshire and England cricket legend Geoffrey Boycott’s disgraceful remarks regarding all rounder Michael Yardy’s confirmation that he is suffering from chronic depression, encapsulate the prejudice surrounding this destructive and draining illness.
“He must have been reading my comments about his bowling – it must have upset him.
“Obviously it was too much for him at this level. If any blame is attached it’s partly to the selectors because I’m sorry, he’s not good enough at this level.”
This statement beggars belief. First of all does Boycott’s huge ego really believe that his mutterings in the press can have such an impact on one man’s state of mind, and secondly does he really think that there is a direct and unshakable connection between performance and work and clinical depression.
Marcus Trescothick, one of England’s best batsman of this century so far, was riding the crest of the 2005 Ashes victory when crippling depression cut short his international career. Stephen Fry and Alistair Campbell are both outstanding performers in their chosen field and yet both deal with this illness on a day to day level.
Lots of press coverage has praised Yardy for “confessing” to and “admitting” that he suffers from depression. When was the last time you heard someone to “confessing” to breaking a leg, or “admitting” that they had a chest infection. The choice of language reveals that sufferers from depression still have to put up with the underlying attitude abroad that they are somehow culpable for their condition and that if they just pulled themselves together, all would be well.
Whilst it is true that for every tale of depression there is a similar story of someone playing the system, this should not diminish the real suffering caused by this most corrosive of illnesses and we should be dealing with this condition in a much more pro active and understanding way which combines drug support with far more investment in talking therapeutic interventions.
More support and less judgement please Mr. Boycott.