Blog: Depression is like ‘Cato’ from the Pink Panther


I’ve struggled just as much as the next person over the years, many lonely nights spent being the life and soul of the party, even more isolated days spent busily in meetings. The thing with mental health is you can’t see it, you can’t touch it, and yet only you live and feel it. It’s not one size fits all, it’s not something that you can pop into a plaster cast or take an aspirin for, but it is there bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to jump out at you when you’re least expecting it like ‘Cato’ from the Pink Panther.

With me (although very infrequently these days) it was the highs and lows, the challenges of youth and of not being able to read the signs of depression, the signs of despair and not knowing how to counter them. I’m convinced more than ever especially the older I get (I’m 29ish next birthday!) that positivity is more behavioural than we think, it’s something that can be learnt. The downside however is that so can pessimism, which is a great friend of abject sadness and despair.

The challenge we have in our traditional macho industry and I suspect across the board, is that whilst we drive toward technological evolution for the twenty first century, we still have a very nineteenth century outlook when it comes to our emotions. We find it difficult to acknowledge and understand the different strengths that all sorts of diversity brings. Emotional issues are seen as weakness, something not quite normal, these Victorian values again, and before we know it, here comes Cato, jumping off the wardrobe!

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a balance that always needs to be struck between empathy and support, and sometimes just ‘pulling your socks up’ and getting the job done. The challenge for me though both personally and professionally is when and how do I do this? Am I seen as a weak leader, too soft on myself , what if I get it wrong, heaven forbid I’m seen as Woke!?! However for me ignoring it in myself and not supporting those around me is far worse than ‘Cato’, and to be honest if anything is going to get him going, it’s just that!! -

Maybe the takeaway from these few thoughts are firstly just to acknowledge that depression exists, the second (perhaps the toughest) is just to talk about it, talking doesn’t half help - and if you’ve managed to read this to the end and not slip into a coma, and you just fancy a coffee or a chat, you know where I am.

Chris Shirling-Rooke

Proud signatory to Maritime UK Mental Health Pledge