A young neighbour managed to make it to my sister's wedding just before she died. She had cancer and was skin and bone in a wheel chair. No one laughed.
My friends dad died last Christmas from Motor Neuron disease. He couldn't do a thing at the end. Stuck in a lifeless body with no control over it. No one laughed.
So why did we all piss ourselves when Gazza turned up to see his 'old mate Moaty' last weekend just before he shot himself?
Gazza is ill. He didn't catch anything (well he may have but that's normal enough in Newcastle), he didn't develop any tumors or bits didn't start falling off him. But he's still a very sick man. Still, it's mental illness so it's funny. Isn't it?
Now I'll admit that his interview with local radio did cause me to chuckle. But there's also an underlying feeling of guilt. Why would I laugh at this sick man but not piss myself when I see Stephen Hawking?
Even last weeks protagonist who caused Sky News to go into such a frenzy of 'news gathering' clearly had issues. See, can't even call it sickness, have to say 'issues'.
Now there's no doubt that Raoul Moat should never have done what he did. The shooting other people bit. But why can't we rationally talk about why he did it?
For our friends who read the Daily Mail this does NOT mean that anyone is trying to excuse his actions. It means that there have to be reasons behind them, and don't you think that perhaps trying to find out what these reasons were, and perhaps therefore preventing something similar happening in the future, might be a sensible course of action?
See I've made a mistake there. Well a couple of them. Firstly I assumed that Daily Mail readers are capable of rational thought and secondly that they are capable of sensible courses of action. Rather than the usual 'lock-em-up' or 'send-em-home' ideas.
Nevertheless shouldn't the rest of us be able to discuss it? Perhaps not.
We've never seemed comfortable talking about mental illness. Dunno why. Fear, maybe? Or perhaps the realisation that somewhere deep in our minds we could have the same 'issues'.
Moat apparently complained at the end that no one loved him and he didn't have a father. Given that his mother said he'd be 'better off dead' you can probably see where he's coming from.
The father-figure or lack of one is something increasingly more prevalent today. There is an increasing number of children who reach their teens without having any male role-model in their lives. Daddy might have never been around, or might have left when he found out he was going to be a daddy.
And of course seeing as all men are pedophiles we can't possibly allow them to be teachers in primary schools.
There's a stigma with mental illness. People don't feel comfortable admitting it. Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that if you said you were suffering from something like MS you wouldn't get many people telling you to 'pull yourself together', which seems to be the super-duper solution to every mental illness under the sun.
I don't really know where I'm going with this. It's difficult even to write about because you fear someone will just make light of it or make fun of you for doing so.
So maybe I should just end on a joke?
Who's going to pay the expenses for that Moat last week?
See what I did there? Now I feel guilty and disgusting for doing it. But I'm mentally ill and unfortunately it causes me to have to think in a million different ways about practically everything I do or say.
And that isn't a joke.