The ambiguity, the angst, the search for inner peace…
Frank: 2024! It’s good to have a conversation with you again. Much has happened since your last interview on Sexual Conscience in November of 2019. What has occurred in your life and work?
de Largie: Happy New Year! It’s lovely to do another interview for Narrative Paths Journal. Yes, the last time we spoke was prior to the emerging effects of the pandemic. Much has changed in the world since then.
2022 was a great year for me. I locked myself away for twelve months and wrote a non-fiction book which will be published this year by Australian publisher Connor Court.
2023 however, was not so good – it was my worst mental health year. I feared my own mind and felt an enormous lack of control. What makes having a mental health condition even worse, is the average person doesn’t want to be around someone who is negative – yet negativity is one of the primary symptoms of depression. So essentially, when you need love and support the most – friends and family members distance themselves. It really is a conundrum.
I am definitely a changed person because of this experience and I don’t feel I can ever be the person I was.
Frank: First, congratulations on your book. And I deeply appreciate the struggle with depression and angst.
De Largie: Thanks!
Frank: The phrase Black Dog is used in various situations concerning mental health, suicide, depression, and severe anxiety. How would you define and describe its pervasiveness? Your thoughts as to the efficacy of mental health initiatives?
de Largie: The best definition of depression (in my opinion) was written by the late writer Melanie Woss who died from suicide in 1989, aged 17. Melanie actually came from my hometown of Perth. After her tragic death, her family allowed her writings and poems about depression to be collated in a book. In one of Woss’s essays, she says:“Depression is the inability to see the positive side of anything.” I’ve remembered that quote for over thirty years – it really resonated with me at the time and still does.
I honestly don’t think most people understand the totality of depression. Many still believe that it can be fixed by adopting a positive attitude. If only brain chemistry, genetics, trauma, and the ability to regulate emotions – was that simple!
Frank: I know from the experience of some dear friends the effects of depression and existential angst on a person’s life both in the short and long term. How do you envision your future and practical approach to living each day?
de Largie: To be honest with you, my biggest plan (at this point in time) is to become the healthiest version of myself. Once my mental, physical, and spiritual selves are aligned – then I can go back to the drawing board.
Prior to last year, my focus was always on work, success, and all of that BS. That mindset made me ill and nearly killed me.
I just want peace. And I’ll do everything I can to achieve it this year.
None of the other stuff matters to me anymore.
Frank: Thank you for taking the time. Much appreciated.
de Largie: My pleasure.