Seaneen Molloy

Imagine, if you need to imagine, that you are depressed. You've reached that wonderful crossroads in your life when your only choices are to get professional help or to decapitate yourself with a George Foreman grill.

So you've booked yourself a psychiatric appointment. You have willingly thrown yourself before God to be judged by his benevolence. And you might worry he will cast you back into your hell and say you are a time-wasting fraud. In that case, here is a handy guide to how to get the most from your psychiatric appointment.

The First Rule is: Look Like Shit. Everybody knows if you are really unhappy, you can't take a brush to your hair. Leave the drool hanging from your chin and if you don't look like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards, then enlist the help of your nearest mentalist and ask them to help. If you're having trouble finding one, just shout "Jimmy!" and wave a tenner above your head and one of them will come off a bench and help you out. You might want to tart yourself up a bit for the sake of politeness, but don't. If you don't look terrible, you don't feel terrible.

Rule Number 2 is: Be Not Afraid. Remember that like dogs, psychiatrists smell fear. And your crotch. But don't worry. If they see you are afraid they will pounce and say "Do I make you nervous?" In that case, just reply "No, do I make you nervous, Clarice?"

Rule Number 3 is: Turn On the Waterworks. Because depression makes you cry, and if you're not depressed you don't cry, and if you don't cry you're not depressed. If you sit in front of the psychiatrist like a robot, just think of the fact that your whole family voted Conservative. If that doesn't work, then punch yourself full in the face. Not only will it make you cry, but it will make you look mental, which is double fun. You can punch your psychiatrist too, but that's just for a laugh.

Rule Number 4 is: You're Only Suicidal If You Have a Plan. One of the old psychiatrist tricks is to ask you if you have a plan to commit suicide. A vague "I don't know" isn't going to cut it. You have to really elaborate, be really detailed and hardcore. You should tell him you're going to
head-butt a train unconscious, or that you're going to jump out of a plane with a parachute composed entirely of the first one hundred drafts of your suicide note. He will take you seriously then.

Rule Number 5: (which everyone here fails at) Don't Joke! Never try to be funny around a psychiatrist. It's really serious business. Mental people don't have a sense of humour. They have bad hair, a funny smell, but they don't have a sense of humour. So don't walk in and say can we just cut out the middleman and can I talk to the undertaker please? He will stare at you forever. And don't try to be smart, because that's just as bad as being funny.

Rule number 6 is: Bring Someone With You. Just don't refer to them as "My friend Napoleon Bonaparte here."

Rule Number 7 is: Prepare for Bugger All to Happen. You may be expecting him to stand up and say, "Child, I can heal you" while the light comes gloriously behind him and the hallelujah Chorus rings round. What is more likely to happen is that he will stand up, shake your hand and say "I'll see you in a month, or maybe six." And that's your lot. But you know try and have fun with it because for quite a lot of us that'll be the only conversation that wasn't with a pot plant that year. You should chance your arm, ask him out for a pint or something and don't forget to say thanks but just don't do it the week later at his house because they'll call the police.

Anyway thank you.


Seaneen writes a blog, thesecretlifeofamanicdepressive, and writes on the BBC's website for their Ouch! Disability pages. See Contacts at the end of the book. Here she talks about the day of the performance: 'It was very frightening, I'd never done anything like that, and before I went up we did some brainstorming with one of the comedians Dave [Thompson] and it was quite amusing because we were trying to come up with ever increasingly elaborate ways to commit suicide to write down as jokes - it was quite surreal. I'd never brainstormed funny suicide methods before. Laughing at it is a way to cope with it. The world in general laughs at people with mental health problems. Everyone has a story about the mad person on the street and I think laughing yourself is a good way of reclaiming the balance of power and also sometimes it is funny. If you don't laugh what else are you going to do - it's better than feeling guilty or beating yourself up about it.' The Independent newspaper reviewed the event and wrote: "Seaneen Molloy read from her witty and honest blog . . . if she ever wants to turn her writing into a full live show, on the evidence of tonight she'd be a natural."