On Dulake’s poem, Bentham later commented: “It was about something so unbelievably simple, yet so blatantly obvious. We depersonalise people, don’t we, in the healthcare system? What she was saying at its essence is ‘I am a person’, and ‘care about me’ – don’t just care about my symptoms and the theoretical, the scientific around my disease area’. Actually think about me as a person, and don’t make me have to keep repeating myself and saying things over and over again.”
Next, Heather Speake recited from memory ‘Monster’. Truly excellent in content and delivery, the performance was made all the more astounding given that, just over four weeks ago, she had had her left kidney removed. The preparation for the Sanofi event, she said, had been perhaps even more nerve-wracking than the operation.
Yet, the poem was, rather, about how, three years ago, she’d had a retinal transient ischemic attack (TIA) – a mini-stroke to the back of her left eye. Added to that, she had entered perimenopause. Everything combined led to her losing her job, and she fell into a dark depression. Speake gained weight and felt, she said, shame and embarrassment, which only exacerbated the problem. What was left was “someone else in the mirror – a monster, right?”, and her poem reminded us that “depression comes in many guises, and in many sizes.”