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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
    +5

    Comment number 61.

    I wish Darrell could get a diagnosis quickly, so I can maybe find out what's wrong with me.

    Like Darrell, my concentration has declined rapidly in recent months. Most days I struggle to take in what people are saying, or to understand the contents of letters. My thoughts often become sluggish. My short term memory is sometimes appalling. I am fearful of making appointments, and anxious in social situations. I have difficulty in making decisions. My ability to organise and plan has declined almost to nothing. I have repetitive negative thoughts about myself and my situation, but no angry or suicidal thoughts. I am pathetically grateful for the kindness of people who've helped me. I have on occasion resorted to alcohol to try to blot out this nightmare.

    Like Darrell, I've rapidly lost my career, wife, children, and home because this mental condition (whatever it is) reduced me into someone "useless" and "weak" as the saintly Elona described Darrell.

    Unlike Darrell I have the support of extended family; no financial worries; a good education; a Home Counties accent; freedom from unscrupulous people who might exploit my enfeeblement; and plenty of former colleagues who can attest to my once having had a better functioning brain and a strong work ethic. My decision-making skills have declined just like Darrell's: It is only these accidental advantages of birth that have kept me from ending up in his situation.

    So it's terrifying to read the cruel judgmental comments on Lawrence Butterfield's article. Would you condemn me the way you've condemned Darrell?

    I don't think you would, because I've not made the poor decisions Darrell has. But that's only because the inadvertent advantages I've received have protected me from my inability to think straight. Nothing to do with probity at all.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 62.

    Nemo399

    If you have never listened to 'ERW' then you may well be in for a treat. Ed is an Irascible irritable irritating invention. he's a 50-something failed author and writer, failed husband, failed parent- he’s just about failed at everything. He’s a selfish spendthrift whose few loves are his cat Mozart, whisky, real ale, cricket and freebies. He chronicles all the frustrations and pettifogging rules of modern life.

    One of his standard rants is about the ’12 year-olds’ whose addictions to Facebook and Twitter rather than having a real conversation and who make decisions about what is printed, published, shown on TV etc and their obsession with mindless celebrity.

    He’s an acquired taste perhaps but he – often - speaks for me to the point I think he’s reading my mind.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 63.

    Darrel was in prison .He came out and returned to his ever whinging wife who never stopped nagging in her quest for money for the girls who were treatd like princesses . As for working for Matt , Matt blackmailed Darrel. My memory re the dogs was when moaning wife wanted new washer and heavens knows what else . He was stuck which ever way he went . Now he is depressed and the way his daughter spoke to him was terrible .Yes he is irritating but boy is he ill . The good Christian folk of Ambridge should ( all bar Shula ) be ashamed . Jill Archer was terrible So much for her church going .Jim took that aawful Scottish druggie in and nobody said a word . Alone in a society can be a nightmare when few care no matter how many systems are in place .

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 64.

    So weak, brainless and unappealing people should be punished for this by being discarded from our preferred scenario. They have cause to be depressed and deserve to be left to get on with it. Obviously our attitude to Darren doesn't really matter in the real world as we are discussing a fiction , but unfortunately, because it is a world intended to be realistic and mirror our own, attitudes to its characters do impact on the real world. I don't see what difference it makes that we don't know Darren very well - like all the characters he has qualities that we can recognise and decide how we would, could or should react to. As for weakness, I can hardly think of any of the characters who haven't succumbed to weakness and brainlessness once or several times, but they always manage to have the sympathy and empathy from listeners as well as fellow characters who know them. The most current being Helen, supposedly intelligent and strong minded, throwing herself at a married man, who represents the values she despises, practically seducing him, devastated when he rejects her, and unable to control herself subsequently when he or his wife are around. I'd call this totally weak and a no-brainer, and she's not even suffering from a mental illness.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 65.

    Message 62: Thank you, Barwick Green! It does sound as though I've missed a treat by not listening to 'Ed Reardon'. I understand there's a new series starting on Radio 4; I shall give it a whirl!
    To all those who are appalled/dismayed etc. by those of us who are fed up with Darrell, I'd suggest it's sometimes a mistake to mix up responses to real life with responses to drama. If, for example, a real-life Darrell appeared on a TV documentary, depressed, unemployed and ashamed of his criminal past, many of us, I suspect, would empathise with his plight and wouldn't condemn him. But The Archers is a drama, and Darrell is a fictional character and one who's consistently been presented as unreliable and weak, and who's not connected to the village in any way. Suddenly, to be topical and socially aware, it's been decided by the Sws that he should embody an 'issue'---depression/unemployment/homelessness. It all seems rather contrived and in a drama, and for me, I do have to know and like a character in order to sympathise when they fall from grace. Drama and real life are not interchangeable; conversely to Darrell, I can think of many characters in fiction I adore, but whom I wouldn't want to know in real life. (Possibly I might get to feel like that about 'Ed Reardon' when I start listening!)

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 66.

    The Archers gave up being a mirror and reflecting our own world a long time ago. For me it was probibly around the time David and Ruth climbed Lakey Hill and watched the Leonids. Shame that in the real world they were only visble from the Southern hemisphere.

    As for weak, brainless, and unapealing people being discarded, the characters have to have something of interest about them to keep the listeners interested in them.

    Daryl has nothing about him to encourage me to keep listening to this programme.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 67.

    Having reluctantly read the Facebook Archers page and the Mental Health pro's comments on the Darrell story, I am seriously suggesting that the 'advisor' does not know the full details of Darrell's background at all, and certainly not what avid listeners to TA know in depth of Darrell since his arrival. Not suggesting for a moment that he is giving wrong advice at all, but it would be very good to know what his precise brief was. I feel a tad sorry for him, because there is just the faintest suspicion to me that he may have been used by the BBC without being fully apprised of how they have written Darrell's FULL track record.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 68.

    Dormouse @ 61, I assume from what you say that your pre-whateveritis history does not include criminal activity and a prison sentence, the tormenting of people in their eighties to the point at which one was crippled and the other died, stealing from your employers, betraying the trust of your employers, and organising dog-fights.

    I don't dislike Darrell because he has depression: I dislike him because of all the things he did *before* he got depression. Or whatever it is, since the anger he frightened Shula with before he decided that she was his saviour was not in keeping with the picture painted by people here who suffer from depression, of non-violence and non-aggression.

    When she angers him by getting him out of her house, I do hope that he doesn't revert to that state of mind. I would suppose that people with depression are not all identically benign. Or identical full stop, in fact.

    jancis @ 64, I draw a distinction between being depressed (about something or things), and suffering from depression (a mental illness). They are not the same thing. The first may trigger the second, but they are not the same.

    I am glad to say that I do not recognise Darrell's "qualities" in myself, because I don't steal, betray my employers, torment octogenarians nor organise dog-fights.

    (Have you fallen for the character-sheet opinion of Helen? She is neither intelligent nor strong-minded; she is stupidly short-sighted and selfish, the downside of the "virtues" they claim for her but which she has never displayed. She is not popular with the people at Peets's, for sure, and her behaviour gets no sympathy there except from one or two people who swim against the tide no matter how absurd it makes them seem.)

    Nemo @ 65, if Darrell had been shown to be ashamed of his criminal past I might have more sympathy with him, but he has not shown contrition that I have noticed! He is sorry *about* it, because it has caused him unhappiness; he is not sorry *for* it.as in apologising for it or trying to repair it or apparently caring at all about those he has damaged by it. He just hasn't ever mentioned it at all, and more than he has mentioned any other nastiness he has committed.

    Ms Tayler, Thank you! that the character sheet now reads "Although Rob claimed to have a wife in *Hampshire*, it was many months before she appeared in Ambridge" and is no longer one of the errors in the Character sheets.

    Perhaps Jim Lloyd's "Key Relationship" to his "employee" Kenton Archer could use a change, next? Kenton has not worked at Jaxx since Fallon took over in November, 2012. Maybe Jim now has a key relationship with the man who has shared his house since 3rd October, 2012, instead, more than a year after either thing happening

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 69.

    Chris Ghoti @ 68 - On the dog fights, Darrell was bullied and threatened by the vicious thug Des into unwittingly helping. Once Darrell found out that dog fighting was involved, he was wracked with guilt and eventually told Neil everything, despite the risks to himself and his family.

    Should Darrell have refused to get involved in the first place, despite being desperate for money to stop Elona scorning his failure as a breadwinner? Of course. Should he have reported it to the police as soon as he found out? Of course. So is his poor decision-making here because he's a thug like Des and has no conscience about stealing Brian's key or the suffering of the dogs? I don't think so. Is it because he's naturally weak-willed and lacks moral fibre? Or is it because his decision-making is affected by his mental illness? I don't think we can be sure of that.

    On the prison sentence, Elona says Darrell was led astray by others who were stealing from their employer. Again, you might see this as evidence of Darrell being innately evil and covering it up by acting penitent. Or you might assert that it's evidence he's a weak man who always falls in with the crowd rather than suffer the consequences. Or maybe his brain is addled and he's doing his best to get by.

    On Arthur and Joyce, Darrell was bullied and threatened by Matt at every stage. Darrell clearly hated what Matt was making him do. He did everything he could think of to mitigate what Matt wanted, but Matt insisted. Darrell eventually convinced himself that if he weren't on the job, not only would Matt ensure Darrell never worked again in Borsetshire but Matt would employ someone even worse to do the work, without trying to minimise the effects on Arthur and Joyce. Did Darrell have a choice? Yes. Should he have refused to do Matt's dirty work and reported it? Yes. Would Matt have got away with it and made sure Darrell suffered? Of course, but at least Joyce might not then have been injured and Arthur might not have died. Darrell tried to tell Lilian but was outmanoeuvred by Matt. Darrell chose to believe Matt's claims that the work was necessary, despite it being obvious that it wasn't, and was clearly horrified at the consequences. Darrell subsequently did his best never to work for Matt again, eventually swallowing his pride and revulsion when driven to desperation by Elona's demands.

    Can you be sure that Darrell maliciously intended or callously disregarded the risk of Joyce's injury and Arthur's death? I'm not. Can you be sure that Darrell was unthinking and weak-willed rather than simply well-meaning but confused? I'm not. If Darrell weren't struggling to make decisions, could he have worked out a way of thwarting Matt? I really don't know.

    After he was beaten up as a consequence of her actions, Darrell hurled abuse at The Blessed Shula when she was only trying to help. Doesn't this demonstrate that his constant apologising and gratitude to her is just a charade? When he was starving, he tried to steal the British Legion tin. Surely this means he's evil? He spent his bus money on drink rather than seeing his daughter. Clearly he doesn't care for her? He failed to go the GP or the Job Centre, despite being driven to the door. Of course he must be feckless and stupid?

    Or maybe all of this is symptomatic of a mind in torment, bewildered by the world, and unable to work out how to help himself.

    Am I excusing Darrell's behaviour? No.

    Am I saying he should not be blamed at all for his actions? I don't know. And I don't know how anyone can be sure of that. I'd hate to be the psychiatrist having to decide that. But you, Chris, seem very sure. Why is that?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 70.

    > On the dog fights, Darrell was bullied and threatened by the vicious thug Des into unwittingly helping.

    Incorrect. Far from being an "unwitting" accomplice, Darrell *initiated* the phone call in which he agreed to involve himself. Up to that point Des's enquiries had been merely opportunistic and speculative - because Darrell was working at a big farm, he might have access to a remote barn or some such. All Darrell had to say was that it wasn't possible - security too tight, CCTV everywhere, keys locked in Brian's office, any excuse would have done - and Des would have simply looked elsewhere. Instead he betrayed Brian and Jennifer's trust by stealing keys and enabling the dog fights to take place. On at least three occasions he participated by acting as lookout and steward.

    > On the prison sentence, Elona says Darrell was led astray by others who were stealing from their employer.

    And I see no reason to believe her. Handling stolen goods does not generally lead to a custodial sentence unless it is a particularly serious offence and/or part of organised professional criminal activity. Knocking off a few bits and pieces from a builder's yard wouldn't come into that category.

    > On Arthur and Joyce, Darrell was bullied and threatened by Matt at every stage. Darrell clearly hated what Matt was making him do

    But not to the extent that he didn't do it. There were any number of things Darrell could have done. Reported the behaviour to Lilian, contacted the council or the police (anonymously if necessary). Instead he decided that the money meant more than the Walters' safety and peace of mind. To add insult to injury, he feigned friendship while actively intimidating them.

    > Darrell chose to believe Matt's claims that the work was necessary

    Matt's actual words to Darrell were: "You go back there tomorrow morning and I'll want to see some action, yeah? Something a little bit…/extra/. You get what I'm saying? Even if you have to… "intervene" a bit?"

    So, far from being merely "unnecessary work", we are talking about deliberate sabotage, the method being left up to Darrell to decide.

    So far we have heard nothing that points to him being anything other than a recidivist parasite, happy to shaft anyone foolish enough to try to help or befriend him. There's been much /speculation about clinical depression, but where is the *evidence* for this - or any other MH issue?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 71.

    On the whole I don't disagree with your account of Darrell's behaviour, Joe @70. It's the interpretation that's in question. Darrell was being put under pressure by Des, by Matt and by Elona. He had plenty of ways to resist, but didn't. And others in a similar position wouldn't necessarily feel the pressure that he appeared to be experiencing. You think he's a habitual criminal and a parasite. I think he might be suffering from some kind of generalised anxiety disorder and some kind of cognitive impairment. You might be right. I'm not sure whether there's enough evidence here to decide.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 72.

    Agreed, it's a matter of interpretation, BUT…

    My problem - and the real point of that deliberately harsh last paragraph - is that there has been no evidence *in the programme as broadcast* for anything other than the least charitable reading: he was in prison when Elona came on the scene, and slipped back into criminality at the earliest opportunity. Not a good first impression.

    If we are supposed to feel some empathy/sympathy for him it should come from how he is written and portrayed in the programme, NOT from a blog entry. Only by reading this article would anyone have any idea about what the issues are supposed to be. If on the other hand those issues are to be gradually made apparent and explored, which could have been interesting, then the article constitutes a massive spoiler. This is as bad as the Matt/Lilian/Paul SL being resolved on AmEx rather than in TA. Either way it's been very poorly handled by the SWs and production team.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 73.

    Well put, Joe.
    In each example quoted by Dormouse Darrell had a clear choice. And in each case he took the "easy" option - i.e. the one that would cause least harm to himself. He may have voiced concerns - but he never once acted upon those concerns, because he is essentially selfish.
    Rosa made it perfectly clear that her father's actions had a very negative impact on her childhood when she said that every time the family got settled, Darrell did something so they would have to move again.
    Once again, the SW team pick an "issue" and then parachute a character into Ambridge. It hasn't worked in the past, and it isn't working now. Nor is it at all clear that Darrell is depressed, rather than being an alcoholic, for example. What is clear is that listeners are not immersing themselves in his plight - rather they are becoming actively annoyed with him.
    If the aim of this SL is to explore MH issues and promote greater understanding, what a pity the character of Darrell was chosen, because the impact of this petty but repetitive criminal is largely negative.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 74.

    Mieteka @73 - I can't agree that Darrell always took the easy option that would cause least harm to himself.

    With the dog fighting, he could have continued doing Des' bidding and not told Neil. The money keeps rolling in, no-one's the wiser, Elona stays with him, and he doesn't have to spend the rest of life look over his shoulder in case Des or his mates do him in. Of course the dogs continue to suffer, but if Darrell's such a parasite why should he care?

    With Arthur and Joyce, he could have continued doing Matt's bidding and not let Lillian know. The money keeps rolling in, no-one's the wiser, he doesn't have to get mixed up with Des, Elona stays with him etc. Of course Joyce doesn't get rescued by Lillian, but if Darrell's such a parasite why should he care?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 75.

    Joe @72 - In life our knowledge of others doesn't always start at the beginning. I'm not saying it will convince you to change your mind, but separate from the moral judgments for a moment, consider Darrell's cognitive function.

    When he arrived in Ambridge he was a skilled carpenter. The work he did in Fawcett Magna was praised by both Paul and Lilian. Matt was very happy with the work that Darrell did for him. You might rightly say that Matt was buttering him up for the dodgy and ultimately evil tasks that Matt strong-armed Darrell into later on. But Matt wouldn't have employed someone who couldn't do the work. There were a few asides on a couple of occasions which suggested that Darrell's fellow workers might have resented Darrell's professionalism.

    Fast forward to this week and Darrell can't take in the contents of written text. He sometimes struggles to remember what he's been told two minutes ago. He loses his benefits because of his confusion. He doesn't understand the basic principle of the housing bond, despite it being explained to him repeatedly. He needs Alistair's help to fill in forms and to go into the benefits office with him to help him understand what the benefits officer is saying.

    How do we account for the mismatch between the skills that Darrell displayed when he arrived in the village and these cognitive difficulties? My interpretation is that there's been a decline in his cognitive function, linked with his mental illness (whatever it is).

    But then I've experienced that decline myself, so I can understand how plausible it is. (For me, I get lucid episodes, take medication and do meditation, which is how I'm able to keep up with The Archers, read your comments and reply. Those are rare moments. There are also times when I can't understand how to buy a pint of milk. Luckily the rest of the time is in between those extremes. My guess is that Darrell is up-and-down too.)

    If on the other hand you think that Darrell is an evil parasite, you either have to argue that he was never competent in the first place, or that since he's been homeless he's been putting on a damn good act.

    Maybe.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 76.

    Dormouse - Darrell has a conscience, he just choses to ignore it most of the time. He also has a history of criminal behaviour and keeps returning to illegal activities. he might pay lip-service to feeling guilty about his misdeeds, but that doesn't stop him! Dogs *did* fight, Joyce *did* break her hip and Arthur *did* die.
    Also, Darrell gave his own family a miserable time, with them no soomer being settled than having to move *again*. There is every indication that Elona would have ended the marriage in any case.
    However, the sudden return to non-impaired cognitive function on Friday, plus Darrell's sly cunningness regarding reporting any income strongly suggests he is a con-merchant. AS he hasn't actually visited a doctor, there is no way this can be explained away by medication - which normally takes at least a couple of weeks to kick in. You are not alone in having MH troubles - many of the people commenting on the SL also have experience of MH issues and find his behaviour totally atypical. and insulting. More than that, they consider the character to be an absolutely appalling example of someone with MH issues and gives a wholly negative impact that does immeasurable harm
    Do I actually care if this weasely chap is an alcoholic, a con-man or has some sort of issue? No, not really. Darrell blames everyone except himself. He leeches on to Shula and starts to tear their family apart. He pays lip-service to his own family. Here's hoping he departs from Ambridge asap.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 77.

    I never normally comment, but I'm saddened by the harshness of most of the responses to the piece by Lol Butterfield about Darrell's depression. OK, he's only a character, but I'm sure we all know someone a bit like Darrell, or have been there ourselves - mental health is a spectrum, and we're all somewhere on it. Yes, Darrell is an unappealing character - so what? Doesn't everyone deserve the opportunity to realise their potential? I think the writing is bit simplistic - painting Shula as the well-meaning do-gooder unable to recognise the needs of her own family and Alastair as the rational clear-seeing caring one doesn't really fit with their respective back-stories, but I salute the attempt by the writers to tackle that most irritating of human beings to know, someone who expects other people to sort out their problems for them and who doesn't seem to have any self-awareness. That could be any one of us, if our situation were different. I'm intrigued to see where this storyline goes next - it's a lot more interesting than Joe's broken wrist, Brian's 70th and yet another row between the Grundy siblings.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 78.

    Having heard tonight's episode, I am fervently hoping that Alastair takes Darryl back to The Stables, settles him down in a quiet corner and then gets on the phone to Alan to come round so they can launch a joint attack on the medical profession and insist someone comes out on a home visit as a matter of urgency - it sounds like the house guest has had/is having a breakdown and needs professional help. I'd not put it beyond a riled Alistair to paint a vivid picture of what might happen if two professional men (am assuming vicars are regarded as such) trying to help a damaged individual happened to mention to the local press that they had been forced to drag the person in question to the local A&E and wait a number of hours...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 79.

    > In life our knowledge of others doesn't always start at the beginning

    True - but this isn't life, it's fiction. Every aspect of Darrell's existence is entirely dictated by the SWs' choices. They have chosen to portray him from before his first appearance in the programme as an habitual criminal: he was doing time for handling stolen goods - a crime that does not under normal circumstances warrant a custodial sentence. Since then, he has repeatedly fallen back into old habits, the harassment of the Walters and involvement in arranging dog fights being just the most egregious examples. In other words nothing in his portrayal shows him to be a character for whom I would expect to feel anything but contempt. However, if I read this blog I am supposed to change my view because he is suffering from depression; clearly, my lack of empathy makes me a Bad Person. Well, sorry, but it doesn't work like that - the first rule of critical theory is the supremacy of the text. Anything not explicitly supported by the text is speculation. In this case, the text is the programme *as broadcast*; suggestions from other sources - including this blog - have no validity unless supported by evidence *in the programme*. I can't comment on Darrell's mental health because he hasn't been sufficiently established as a character - "Normal For Darrell" is an unknown quantity, so it's impossible to tell whether his current behaviour is aberrant.

    By all means blog about issues raised in the programme, but not *before* they have been raised - if nothing else it is a massive spoiler. If the new editorial style is going to be "next month's issue will be ————" I for one will soon become an ex-listener.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 80.

    Well said JOSP1 Whatever is wrong with Darrel he clearly is having a breakdown and has many issues .Low self esteem alone is awful but he has other problems .OK his marriage may well have ended .Like say 1 in every 3 ,.. but I used to cringe when Elona who was Mrs Smoothy to all went on at Darrel( behind closed doors) telling him what a failure he was .What a poor father if one daughter didnt get her scooter and the other music lessons etc etc .As Bruno Bettelheim said "Tell a man ofter enough he is stupid and he will believe it "........For all who keep saying this isnt real life .It is meant to reflect issues of the day ......and the SWS are doing a job serving us with some rather unsavoury home truths as to how we react to the problems of many ......

 

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