Tag Archives: depression

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

From Goodreads

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.

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What I thought:

I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes’ writing. She writes strong women and brilliant dialogue which is funny, witty, serious and sexy when it needs to be. And she always addresses real issues which aren’t usually found in the chick lit genre.

In the Mystery of Mercy Close she writes about depression in the context of a detective mystery. There is also exploration of romance and family relationships.

I enjoyed reading this but sometimes it felt a little too flippant on depression although I know that Keyes herself has struggled with the debilitating condition and has been at times unable to write because of it.

I found it hard to suspend disbelief occasionally and some of the characters just didn’t have the depth which I’ve grown used to with Keyes. I found Is Anybody Out There? much better when it came to showing the characters dealing with depression and grief.

Keyes always provides a good read in her fiction however so I would certainly recommend it. I particularly like her idea of a shovel list. A list of people or things or phrases the main character would like to hit in the face with a shovel.

This is one more of the family Walsh series and the fabulous parents, especially the mother, once again play a brilliant supporting role.

When common sense contradicts the news about depression

The big news in the news this week was that exercise doesn’t help depression after all. A research study, by the University of Bristol and UWE, with 361 participants found that there was no difference in depression alleviation between a group that exercised and a control group.

The BBC and the Guardian led with the idea that exercise is no help for depression. Neurobonkers took a look at the research and said the following:

Simply telling depressed people to exercise does not help relieve symptoms of depression

That seems to make more sense to me. When research suggests something that goes against common sense, there is usually something wrong with the research or with its interpretation. Here’s the quotation taken from the paper:

“The aspiration was for the participants to engage in moderate or vigorous activity for 150 minutes a week in bouts of at least 10 minutes, but if that seemed unrealistic then the facilitator encouraged any increase in physical activity, whatever the intensity. The intervention programme comprised an initial hour long face to face assessment session followed by two short telephone contacts, then a further face to face meeting for half an hour. Over the course of 6-8-months, the physical activity facilitator offered up to eight further telephone contacts and one more face to face half hour meeting.”

Chalder, M. Wiles, N. Campbell, J. Hollinghurst, S. Haase, A. Taylor, A. Fox, K. Costelloe, C. Searle, A. Baxter, H. Winder, R. Wright, C. Turner, K., & Calnan, M. Lawlor, D. Peters, T. Sharp, D. Montgomery, A. Lewis, G. (2012). Facilitated physical activity as a treatment for depressed adults: randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 344 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e2758

See Neurobonkers for the explanation.

Bristol Happiness Lecture: the fifth

St George’s music hall played host to the fifth Bristol Happiness Lecture this year in a session about positive psychology responses to depression. On May 18, 2010 the speakers were positive psychologist Miriam Akhtar, GP / broadcaster Dr Phil Hammond and addictions specialist Dr Chris Johnstone. Chris Johnstone initially developed the series of lectures as part of his positive psychology programme at the University of Bristol.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The focus is on people wanting to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Chris Johnstone now focuses on teaching, training and writing but has previously spent years working as a doctor and an addictions specialist in the NHS. He fought for the rights of junior doctors and found an interest in studies that empower the individual and bring about positive change. He has written the book Find Your Power which was launched at the lecture, has co-produced the self-help audio CD, The Happiness Training Plan, with Miriam Akhtar, and edits the free newsletter The Great Turning Times.

This year’s programme has already been and gone but there is a summary on the Positive Psychology News page. Last year’s lecture was on Resilience in a time of Recession and past speakers have included Oliver James (2008), Ilona Boniwell (2007) and Raj Persaud (2006).

Dr Chris Johnstone