The D word 

I have always thought of my teenage brushes with suicidal depression as a springboard of my creativity* – less depression more compression.  But I had never talked about it in a professional setting.

My past experiences of despair have been a constant source of insight – a motor really – as I perform on the various stages of my life (business, arts social change) but they’ve remained in my backstage.

Then I met Geoff McDonald – thanks to various nudges from Arianna, Tara, Louise  (life has definitely been nudging!).  Geoff, Georgie Camilla and the growing gang at [email protected] are campaigning to destigmatize depression and anxiety in the very workplaces where I make my living.

So when Nancy and Hephzi (more nudging from Oli) invited me to tell my story at the inaugural meeting of their new Inspire Movement at Google HQ – I said yes.

Actually I said yes.  Then hmm.   Then err.  To my surprise I found myself hesitating at the edge of the diving board.  There’s an omertà about mental health in professional life and it turns out I wasn’t immune as I contemplated ‘outing’ this chapter of my personal narrative.

But, hey, I have just written a book on the power of story to shape the world so with a bit more nudging (thanks Jo, Ben, Mark, Byron and Elaine) and, in the encouraging company of two truly heroic fellow speakers, the wonderful Emma Lawton and Pedro Pimenta, I jumped!

What a relief. It’s a TED length talk.  I’d love to know what ideas it sparks in you. And if you have friends you think may be suffering depression in silence – especially at work – feel free to share it.

*Witness the connection between creativity and depression live on stage and book a ticket now for the wonderful Fake It Till You Make It.  It’s a gloriously uplifting show by Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn about living with mental darkness that’s at Sadlers Wells, London 23-25 June. 



13 thoughts on “The D word 

  1. Beautiful David. Thank you – on behalf of all who have suffered depression. Amazing story. Poignant, important and thought provoking.

  2. “… the darkness is part of the wholeness…” Wonderful and thought provoking. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  3. You are so brave and amazing. Thinking all these things is incredibly creative but sharing it is such a gift. It is always brightening and inspiring to hear how you feel, what you think, how you sing, speak…
    A brilliant and heart warming talk.

  4. Strong stuff David. An unusual touch that, to effectively communicate the darkness and the despair with such levity and charm.
    Thanks for putting it out there, you’re so right, ‘better out than in’.
    Thanks 🙂

  5. So moving and thought-provoking David. Another amazing example from you of how sharing can help us become better people (and better leaders). Talking about the ‘bad stuff’ and how you overcame it – brave and inspiring. Thank you

    • Pete. Thanks for your kind words. It’s had rather more reaction than I expected. All of it very positive. People do want to talk about what’s going on behind the professional mask, don’t they? Hope you’re flourishing and the chimp is behaving… Best D

  6. It’s a very special moment in life when the backstage begins to merge with and manifest on the frontstage. Watching you do this now during my Saturday morning lie in has been beautiful to behold, moving and connecting me to a deeper consciousness. There’s no doubting the power of story, but when it’s your own story you are tapping into another level which reminded me that a few years ago I read a guide to story for writers and filmmakers by James Bonnet alluringly entitled Stealing Fire From The Gods. I think you may have just done that. I salute you and thank you for your outing David.

  7. Hello David I am a friend of Sarah & Russel’s & I have loved this talk and will spread the word. I second all that was said above but also LOVE that you continue to sing.
    I would like to contribute to this inspirational organisation (in addition to my day job in mental health in the NHS) and wonder if you can use me? If so, feel free to get my number & give me a call? Many many thanks for this – not so many people have the talent (& Jewish/Indian family) to be able to speak so powerfully. Nisha

  8. Thank you sweetie – having spent the last 25 years walking my husband through depression and the following side issues that resulted from depression I empathise. My experience has been that of many – you can’t see it, so it doesn’t exist. And yet the more people we talk to and explain our own experiences the more people we know who have in some way had to deal with depression. And we do talk to people; we tell them what we went through and to some degree still go through – its our own form of therapy…
    And just so you know one of my earliest memories is of you singing at school – it was very inspiring x

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