There is a snobbery about mental affliction beginning, I suspect, with Freud; there was little twisting of the cloth cap went on in Freud’s consulting room, I’m sure, but it wasn’t simply due to social snobbery. Like most writers on the subject, the great man concerned himself with the intellectual and the exotic, so that there was something of the freak show about many of his well-known case histories, with alleviation of suffering nowhere.
Depression, which is much the most common mental illness, doesn’t even qualify as such and mustn’t be so labelled, perhaps because it’s routine and relatively unshowy; but maybe, too, because it’s so widespread not calling depression mental illness helps to sidestep the stigma. A sufferer from it, though, might well regret that his or her condition is so common since a patient mindless with despair is such a regular occurrence as scarcely to be worthy of a proper physician’s time.
Nothing excuses us from the obligation to divert our fellow creatures. We must not be boring. And since for the specialist most illnesses soon cease to intrigue, if you have to suffer choose a condition that is rare. Should you want to catch the doctor’s eye, the trick is not to see no light at the end of the tunnel; anybody can do that. Rather mistake your wife for a hat and the doctor will never be away from your bedside.