because I said so

telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

on pollies, depression, and having a crisis

with 4 comments

There is this highly enjoyable blog called indexed, right, where this clever little lassie doodles funny graphs on index cards. For example:

Now, if we replaced the labels in the Venn diagram above with politicians, emotional crises and depression, [former?] Tassie Economic Development & Tourism Minister Paula Wriedt would be the one disappearing in the middle.

After Sam “douchebag, but feel sorry for him, he had cancer” Newman may or may not have said crass things about her over the fact that the Tasmanian government is sponsoring the Hawks last, it turned out that Ms Wriedt was hospitalised over the weekend and there had been reports that she tried to commit suicide.

Then there was the stuff about the sexual harassment claim, followed by the admission she had an affair with her driver…

Hooooooley dooley, what a nightmare. One of her family’s statements mentioned:

The pressures of public life, constant travel away from home and public scrutiny combined with motherhood is a difficult act to balance.

I have the feeling motherhood is difficult to balance in a private life, too, but I don’t intend to make this about all that women & work stuff… The thing is, regardless of whether or not her suicide attempt was due to douchbagy comments (if it was, that is another post entirely), the affair, whatever, is it just me or does the number of cases of depression and breakdowns among pollies worry any one else?  Geoff Gallop, John Brogden et al… it’s just really not good at all.

I know the fact she’s depressed is just horrible in itself, but yeah… the mix of public life (and I mean “public service” life, not just being a celebrity) with depression has got to be sucky.

Found this interesting post on the subject in former Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett’s blog, and this comment struck a chord with me:

Politics is a dirty game and is not conducive to people with a good conscience and if it is, it is unlikely they’ll have one by the end.

I discovered how yukky politics was in Year 10 Social Studies, when we had a pretend election.  Oh it was horrid.  After that I decided there was no way I was going to be an actual politician, cos I cry way too much, but I thought I’d work behind the scenes, so to speak.  Then I went to Young Labor national conference and have been too scared to attend meetings regularly ever since.

Politics is an important part of our lives (or at least it is for me… whatevs) and it would be nice if it wasn’t so mean and gross, no?


Written by Sunili

7 August 2008 at 7:41 am

Posted in politics

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. as you say, there is a long history of politicians with depression – Churchill, Lincoln, Curtin, Kennet etc. I think somebody was trying to research whether there was a link – is it that the pressures of the job triggers depression, or does politics attract people with a disposition towards depression?

    personally, I think it is the latter. I believe that most ambitious people are driven by a deep sense of insecurity teamed with arrogance – an unstable combination that can easily get knocked off balance by the adversarial nature of politics.

    Most of them are basically sociopaths. One per cent population are sociopaths, but are disproportionately represented in politics and the law:

    “Ambition is an overmastering desire to be vilified by enemies while living and made ridiculous by friends when dead.”
    Ambrose Bierce


    7 August 2008 at 11:35 am

  2. Hmmm – I think it might be better to avoid over-generalisations about politicians and/or about depression. Each person and circumstance is unique, so trying to do broad extrapolations probably isn’t terribly insightful.

    And equating depression with being a sociopath is just bullshit. There may well be an overrepresentation of sociopaths amongst politicians, but that does not in itself link to prevalance or disposition regrading depression.

    Having said that, I think the key point about politicians (and heaps of other people performing roles of signifigance, including parenting and more) is that it is not necessarily a bad thing for the general community to have politcians who are in such a space. After all, john Curtin is often said to be our best Prime Minister ever and he is widely recognised to have endured severe depression before and whilst he was in the role.

    Having said all that, don’t underestimate the magnifying impact that occurs when someone is deemed to be a ‘public figure’ and thus having to deal with the (perception of) vastly increased numbers of people being made aware of what are bascically personal issues. To use the Paule Wreidt example, obviously the aspect of an apparent affair generates lots of media coverage and engages the attention of heaps of people who would normally pay no attention at all to politics – we all know this is puerile prurience, but we also know that this is how people are.

    A very personal issue which in normal circumstances might be an uncomfortable matter amongst family and friends is suddenly known by basically everyone in the state/country – and the person knows that they face the prospect that, regardless of everything else they have or will achieve in public life, the main thing they will be known/remembered for is a bit of tabloid-style gossip. Not a nice thought to play on one’s mind.

    Andrew Bartlett

    7 August 2008 at 7:30 pm

  3. Andrew — thank you for commenting! (And thank you for adding me as a Fb “friend”! I thought you’d have one of those “Public Figure” profiles, sorry, I didn’t mean to be random!)

    Firstly, don’t worry about Skink, he gets banned from “news” blogs often, but we keep him around for his inflammatory comments 😉

    Secondly, the point that The Paula Weirdt story has gotten this big because it’s so tabloidy is pretty spot on. As if there isn’t enough trash going around (“Shock! Sunday Rose isn’t Nicole Baby!” I mean, srsly, WTF??).

    Skink — re “most ambitious people are driven by a deep sense of insecurity teamed with arrogance”: That sounds like it could be pretty accurate (once validated with extensive research, of course). I like to call it “having megalomania with an inferiority complex”. It’s a topic close to my heart, and something I plan to explore more here at some stage, so watch this space, I look forward to your input 😉


    7 August 2008 at 8:58 pm

  4. Andrew,

    I’m not sure I made any attempt to suggest that depressed pollies are sociopaths, more that there are a disproportionate number of people in politics with no conscience, and that dealing with them on a regular basis must get you down.

    reading my post again, I can understand that the meaning may not be clear, so thanks for riding in here on your high horse to point that out for me.

    and I don’t ‘often’ get banned from blogs, just the one time


    8 August 2008 at 8:28 am

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