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Darrell’s depression – the professional’s view

Wednesday 13 November 2013, 16:53

Lol Butterfield Lol Butterfield Mental health nurse

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Dan Hagley (Darrell Makepeace) Dan Hagley (Darrell Makepeace)
Darrell’s depression – the professional’s view
 
Lawrence (Lol) Butterfield has been advising us on the current storyline with Darrell (pictured) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qpgr/profiles/darrell-makepeace. A qualified nurse, Lol has worked in the mental health field for 30 years and is the author of the book Sticks and Stones, which aims to tackle the stigma and discrimination of mental health.
 
My work advising Darrell on his depression storyline gave me much pleasure. If pleasure is the right word to describe such a tragic and frustrating turn of events for Darrell?  My role is to attempt to provide realism and sensitivity to his plight. However this is not always possible when people’s behaviour affects those around them in such devastating ways. 
Welcome to the world of mental illness. Any of us could experience this at any time in our lives. In fact statistically one in four of us will. 
 
Darrell may be struggling at the moment but this will not last forever. If the right help is made available, the prognosis is good for depression. We have to be willing to accept help and not stigmatise ourselves by shunning the support offered. We must also try to remain hopeful. Without hope we have nothing. Sadly many men in particular feel ashamed to be open and honest when mentally unwell. They see this as a slight on their masculinity. This is why we have twice as many women as men visiting their GPs for mental health conditions, even though men experience the same number. 
Denial
Many men go into denial  when faced with mental illness and may use alcohol or illicit substances as a negative coping strategy.
 
Mental illness in any form not only effects the person but those close to them. Darrell’s case is no exception. People can be left feeling helpless and at a loss as to what to do next. 
If the person with depression does not seem to be making any progress, people can then feel as if they are to blame. Mental illness takes no prisoners. It is indiscriminate. We should all remember this when judging those with any kind of mental illness. 
I speak as a qualified mental health nurse with over 30 years of clinical experience. I have also suffered from depression so have 'lived experience'. I therefore speak as the nurse and the patient.
 
Darrell has clearly hit rock bottom. He now needs to try to climb back out of the pit of despair he finds himself in. This is never easy. His self esteem and confidence have been shattered, his thinking will have become dysfunctional, even paranoid. His window on the world around him differs greatly from that of others. 
To empathise with Darrell, we have to try to see the world through his eyes as he views it now, and support and help him to try to think and see things differently. He has experienced loss and betrayal, as he sees it. 
Empathy
He doesn't need sympathy, but empathy. If Darrell were helpless at a bottom of a well, we would try to encourage him to climb out, maybe even help him. This is what empathy is. Sympathy would be to look down on him crying, becoming helpless ourselves. This approach helps nobody.
 
While Darrell will ultimately have to take responsibility for his own actions, those around him must not disempower him from doing this. Once his mood has lifted and he can see more clearly, the recovery process begins. Unlike a broken arm or leg it is difficult to place a timespan on how long his recovery will take. Mental health differs from physical health in that  many other external factors can all impinge on any progress made. 
All those who care can do now is be there for him. If they experienced the same despair, they would expect no less from him.
Support and advice:
Time to Change
http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/
Mind
http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/mental-health-problems-introduction/?gclid=CPvuufrk4boCFTGWtAodESwAbA#.UoN0A3ARDEl
Sane
http://www.sane.org.uk/About_Mental_Illness/
NHS
http://www.nhs.uk/CarersDirect/guide/kinds/Pages/mental-illness.aspx
Picture shows Dan Hagley (Darrell Makepeace)
Read an interview with Dan (April 2013)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/posts/Playing-Darrell
Learn more about Darrell – and Dan – in our Who’s Who 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qpgr/profiles/darrell-makepeace
Lawrence (Lol) Butterfield has been advising us on the current storyline with Darrell (pictured). A qualified nurse, Lol has worked in the mental health field for 30 years and is the author of the book Sticks and Stones, which aims to tackle the stigma and discrimination of mental health. 
My work advising Darrell on his depression storyline gave me much pleasure. If pleasure is the right word to describe such a tragic and frustrating turn of events for Darrell?  My role is to attempt to provide realism and sensitivity to his plight. However this is not always possible when people’s behaviour affects those around them in such devastating ways. 
Welcome to the world of mental illness. Any of us could experience this at any time in our lives. In fact statistically one in four of us will.  
Darrell may be struggling at the moment but this will not last forever. If the right help is made available, the prognosis is good for depression. We have to be willing to accept help and not stigmatise ourselves by shunning the support offered. We must also try to remain hopeful. Without hope we have nothing.
Sadly many men in particular feel ashamed to be open and honest when mentally unwell. They see this as a slight on their masculinity. This is why we have twice as many women as men visiting their GPs for mental health conditions, even though men experience the same number. 
Denial
Many men go into denial  when faced with mental illness and may use alcohol or illicit substances as a negative coping strategy. Mental illness in any form not only effects the person but those close to them. Darrell’s case is no exception. People can be left feeling helpless and at a loss as to what to do next. 
If the person with depression does not seem to be making any progress, people can then feel as if they are to blame. Mental illness takes no prisoners. It is indiscriminate.
We should all remember this when judging those with any kind of mental illness. 
I speak as a qualified mental health nurse with over 30 years of clinical experience. I have also suffered from depression so have 'lived experience'. I therefore speak as the nurse and the patient. 
Darrell has clearly hit rock bottom. He now needs to try to climb back out of the pit of despair he finds himself in. This is never easy. His self esteem and confidence have been shattered, his thinking will have become dysfunctional, even paranoid. His window on the world around him differs greatly from that of others. 
To empathise with Darrell, we have to try to see the world through his eyes as he views it now, and support and help him to try to think and see things differently. He has experienced loss and betrayal, as he sees it. 
Empathy
He doesn't need sympathy, but empathy. If Darrell were helpless at a bottom of a well, we would try to encourage him to climb out, maybe even help him. This is what empathy is. Sympathy would be to look down on him crying, becoming helpless ourselves. This approach helps nobody. 
While Darrell will ultimately have to take responsibility for his own actions, those around him must not disempower him from doing this. Once his mood has lifted and he can see more clearly, the recovery process begins. Unlike a broken arm or leg it is difficult to place a timespan on how long his recovery will take. Mental health differs from physical health in that  many other external factors can all impinge on any progress made. 
All those who care can do now is be there for him. If they experienced the same despair, they would expect no less from him.
Support and advice:

Picture shows Dan Hagley (Darrell Makepeace)

Read an interview with Dan (April 2013)

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Comments

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

    Agree, wholeheartedly!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 22.

    I agree entirely with Mietaka. Darrell might need empathy, but he certainly won't get it from the listeners.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 23.

    You over-weaning, self-congratulatory bunch, yes, that's YOU, TA team!

    This is far and away the least credible, and worst contextualised SL even TA have mounted in years. Have any of your writers / producers re-read the exchanges between Neil and Darrell dated March this year? Neil - one of Shula's oldest friends in the vill - knows exactly what Darrell has been up to yet said not a word to Shula who lives virtually across the road. Neils# wife, Susan, has been in prison.. so Neil has never so much as mentioned nor discussed with said wife the Darrell problem? As if!!

    This SL is doing a fantastic disservice to genuine depression sufferers, and you'd know that if you bothered to consult the anguished and angry responses on the existing Archers blogsites about how this SL is being developed.

    Talk about shooting yourselves in the foot.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 24.

    It really seems a bit unfortunate that you have made a person suffering from depression Appear as so unspeakable that anyone who associates that individual with that condition is going to be put off anyone with that condition.

    Why attach mental health issues to someone who is without redeeming features? You've made a decent fist of this stuff before: when you gave depression to Pat it didn't make us all feel as if we would run a mile from anyone with that problem -- we knew her, and we knew that she had a valid reason for her state. Similarly when Mike lost his livelihood and had a breakdown, even if we didn't like him all that much we could sympathise. We had known each of them for years, and the suffering of people you know does make you think.

    Darrell is not "sympathetic": he is a nasty stranger who tormented two old people and helped to organise the torture of animals. By identifying him with depression you have done anyone who suffers this condition no favours at all.

    Long ago when I was being taught how to write short stories it was rubbed into me that the truth, no matter how important, is not necessarily convincing. It may be true that people with depression who are like Darrell exist -- but even if the elements which go to make him up are correct (which seems to be open to a lot of debate) he is not convincing, and the audience are not convinced.

    On the other hand his actor is doing a wonderful job of conveying a person for whom it is well-nigh impossible to feel sympathy, so a quick salute to Dan Hagley. It must be depressing for him to watch the character he had hoped would be a long-running person in The Archers being turned by the scripts into a shambling caricature and a non-person. I feel decidedly dubious about there being any chance that listeners will now warm to Darrell, and that's a waste of a good actor.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 25.

    Well Darrell is not unspeakable in my opinion .. that point of view is *entirely* subjective.

    I know folks who have been in prison and found it impossible to find a job afterwards - and who have far better qualifications than Darrell .

    Given that fact that Matt straight away chose him as his prey .. and Elona nagged him about providing a standard of life suitable for their "girls" plus the fact that he is a bit dim and didn't see the dog fighters for what they were till it was too late ..

    I can easily believe the story ..
    JPBS
    PS I hardly think that those who respond to this blog are a representative of listeners

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 26.

    Darrell was barely out of prison before he returned to illegal activities - a clear indication from the SW team that he was, in the words of Porridge, "an habitual criminal".
    Matt may have identified this unfortunate tendancy, but Darrell as in no way his "prey" - because he had the opportunity to say "no". It's called free will. Likewise he could have told Elona there wasn't any money. His behaviour with the Rosycheeks and the dogs simply emphasised his willingness to ignore the effects of his actions upon others. While it might be tempting to identify excuses for Darrell's consistently bad behaviour, there are no actual reasons for it.
    I too can believe the story - but that is not the same as finding it anything other than tedious, simply because I cannot engage with the character, due 100% to his reprehensible actions and his refusal to take responsibility for his own failings.
    I have no idea if the comments here do or do not represent listeners *in general*, but they do reflect the complaints and frustrations about this SL voiced on various discussion groups.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 27.

    > Mental health problems run in Ed's family but the 12 year-old scriptwriters won't know that.

    Let me correct you on that, barwick_green. Most of us are in our 40s, 50s or older. And many have been writing The Archers for 10 - 20 years or more.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 28.

    Blimey, there's some real understanding and kindness out there for old Darrell! I think he is superbly played by the actor as he manages to portray a weak, but basically good man, who can't really cope with anyone with a stronger personalilty than him. Bullies such as Matt and the the ex con who arranged the dog fights manage to manipulate and exploit him without guilt and pity, leaving him to try and pick up the pieces. I think his character is supposed to be infuriating as he does appear to be his own worse enemy. I also think its a good story as the likes of Shula will never have a clue about anyone from outside their own class and social standing. What we need now though is for Helen to get depressed too after finding out she has contracted a STD off Rob, and they can start a drinking school outside the village shop.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 29.

    Well, Mr K, if your writers are indeed that age, maybe they have been speifically told to IGNORE the events of the dog-fighting SL since it has neve been mentioned from that day to this by Neil or anybody else., The clumsy selectivity has robbed this entire SL of its contextualisation and thus removed it too form the wider society that is Amnbridge.

    Before rudeness to contributors here, maybe you should help to examine the working strategies and either wilful or accidental ignorances of the team at The Mailbox, because they way they have chosen to orchestrate it, this SL is doing a serious, damage to depression sufferers and is a serious exasperating MESS.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 30.

    > I hardly think that those who respond to this blog are a representative of listeners

    Whereas you do, presumably? Sorry, but where's the evidence for such an assertion?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 31.

    I disagree with the suggestion that he has been presented as a basically good man, slackalan. Good men do not receive stolen goods in such a serious or repeated way that they are sentenced to more than a year in prison, torment pensioners, steal from their employers, betray the trust of those who are helping them by using their property in ways which would cause them disgust, or arrange for dog-fighting to be done. These are the actions of someone who is essentially *not* good.

    At no time was Darrell forced to do these things: he did them because they had been suggested, and that is weak. Nevertheless, it is possible to be both weak and nasty -- and that is what I think Darrell to be.

    Neil, essentially a weak man who is pushed around by Susan and circumstances, has never before lent himself to something essentially evil, and I regret that the editorial team decided to make this turnabout in his character.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 32.

    27.
    Keri Davies Wrote
    1 Hour ago

    > Mental health problems run in Ed's family but the 12 year-old scriptwriters won't know that.<

    "Let me correct you on that, barwick_green. Most of us are in our 40s, 50s or older. And many have been writing The Archers for 10 - 20 years or more."

    Maybe it is time to move the deadwood on?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 33.

    Whilst you are here, Mr Davies: I posted in a blog a while ago about the statement in the character sheets that "Although Rob claimed to have a wife in Hertfordshire, it was many months before she appeared in Ambridge." pointing out that it was not Hertfordshire but Hampshire that he claimed, and that Hampshire is what has been said, repeatedly, on air. Might that get corrected some time?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 34.

    the character sheet for Jess, sorry, that may not have been absolutely clear. In the bit which used to be called "Who's who".

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 35.

    "If Darrell were helpless at a bottom of a well, we would try to encourage him to climb out". I wouldn't be so sure about that, Mr Butterfield.

    This is an appallingly plotted storyline, while the characterisation of Darrell* is an insult to people with genuine MH problems.

    *a snivelling, drivelling, whining, lying, cheating, criminal lowlife

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 36.

    I think you have completely shot yourselves in the foot with this SL, because the character has been portrayed as such a worthless and unlikeable person that most listeners can feel no empathy with him whatsoever. I have heard no evidence that he is "basically a good man", he has done nothing good at all since he arrived while and and a lot of what he has done has been illegal/immoral.

    If you wanted to make listeners feel antagonistic towards people with MH issues you could hardly have done better.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 37.

    It's been suggested that comments on this blog are not 'typical' of listeners' responses; however, I have seen similar criticisms of the Darrell story line on Twitter and on Facebook. It may be true that weak, dim-witted, semi-criminal, types like Darrell can suffer from depression, but surely the message should be that depression can hit anyone, not just someone who was a pathetic, sad-sack in the first place? I think the story line would have had more impact if an established character who was thought to be strong and reliable was hit by depression. I also feel rather patronized by the above blog; some of us may have first hand experience of dealing with the depressed and don't need to be told 'Welcome to the world of mental illness'. Welcome?????

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 38.

    Mr Keri, if this is the standard of storyline of a mature, experienced scriptwriter, please feel free to examine your writing roots, because you have all lost your way here. Strange because you are all capable of good storylines, sometimes even excellent little gems.

    But not with this one. As had been already said, if you had treated a character we had an interest in, loved, or even hated, the plot would have worked. Instead, even with the valiant efforts of the actor, the storyline of Darryll the Depressed does no justice to either The Archers, any listeners who have suffered from depression, or the families of sufferers. Or even yourselves.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 39.

    Hi Chris Ghoti - it was indeed Hampshire - we're getting that changed : )

    Tayler

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 40.

    It's ridiculous to try and tackle a serious issue with the likes of Darrell... also, I'm baffled as as Nemo399 to the patronising sentiment attached here. It's the most common mental health issue and I imagine that most people will have known someone who has suffered from it at one point...

    Few people have described people suffering from serious clinical depression as acting like they just smoked a kilo of meth though - which was pretty much how Darrell had been acting until a few days ago. If we were to believe he had bipolar disorder (and it would be a VERY acute form if he could turn on a sixpence from a bout of mania straight into depression in about a day) MAYBE, I'd have given it the benefit of the doubt...

    But it all just feels like this giant hodgepodge of ideas that the writers threw at the wall, hoping one would stick and then just went "Meh, he's got depression" when everything else failed. It doesn't feel like it's something that has been built to even slightly.

    In fact, I just thought that Darrell had some kind of early onset dementia or brain parasite - which perfectly explains how his already limited intelligence has progressively degraded to the point where he was functionally retarded. Unable to operate a computer despite direct instruction.

    Where's the lethargy? His inability to get out of bed? His dark thoughts and... well, DEPRESSION?

    Honestly, I suspect (given that dozens have said as much) that if Darrell was to end it all by hanging himself that many listeners might find themselves at least relieved in not rejoicing that he had finally met his end...

    I'm having a hard time believing that has made the plight of those with clinical depression more relatable to the average person... but obviously, Auntie knows best. Or at least, is conceited enough to think so.

 

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