A rather delicate subject; often feared, too often misunderstood and sends 'friends' and colleagues, running for a place to hide when it indirectly affects them. I am talking about depression (Churchill's 'Black Dog'). As society becomes more pressured and aware of itself, we would expect the understanding of this illness to increase proportionately and those suffering, be shown a degree of empathy for the aspects of it, which may encroach on others, unintentionally. However, I fear that the opposite is true and people in general, lack patience and the ability to comprehend how the depression affects the sufferer on a day-to-day basis. There is still a stigma attached to this illness, which affects so many of us, that we often hide the fact that we suffer from it, to both save face and dignity, as it's label can be so destructive in the hands of those who fear it affecting their own existence. I have been a sufferer for several years, triggered, I fear, by stress from work as a schoolteacher, several family bereavements and a loss of self-esteem, which can bring many demons to your door. Rather that acknowledge the problem, it is a natural choice to 'get on with it', in some ways dealing with it by increasing many of it's causes. On a personal level, it has tested both friendships and colleague relationships, particularly whilst attempting to remedy it myself. Band-wise, I think that it has also tested the resolve of those around me, where inconsistency of mood and performance has led to judgemental responses, rather than support and understanding - which I totally understand. We are all in a high-stress, fast paced society, which has little time for stragglers or those unable to perform at their best, 100% of the time. It is easier to cut people loose, rather than help carry them through a dark time, with care and support. People around me have always looked to me for strength and encouragement, my strength of character being as much their rock as my own. How difficult it has been to step back and let friends and family see me become a shadow of my confident self and share my fears with them. I write this because I know of several band friends who quietly suffer, fearing that public knowledge of such an illness will undermine peoples trust in their ability to cope. A situation created by the nature of this affliction. I am sure that this post will ring true to many readers, both sufferers and those that share lives with those that suffer from one of the least predictable of all illnesses, on a day-to-day basis.