'Black dog' sells for $155 on Trade Me

SOLD: A depression sufferer has sold her illness for $155 on Trade Me.
SOLD: A depression sufferer has sold her illness for $155 on Trade Me.

A depression sufferer has sold her illness for $155 on Trade Me.

In the listing Emma, 29, said she suffered from depression since age 14.

"My depression won't let you down. It will rear its ugly head at regular intervals. You can call it the Black Dog if you like," the listing said.

"At its severest, you won't be able to get out of bed to shower, change your underwear or clean your teeth."

She estimates the monthly cost of keeping depression "under wraps" was around $500, not including taking time off work.

Acquiring depression isn't guaranteed, but the winning bidder did get a transfer of ownership form, with the $155 going to the Movember Foundation.

The listing had more than 10,700 page views and a long tail of comments, some commending her and others sharing similar stories about depression.

"I tried chucking mine out the window but it didn't work," one post said.

Clinical psychologist Duncan Thomson says the auction shows the value in being open, and even humorous, about mental health, and the impact it can have on people's lives. "The concept that you can sell your depression is pure irony," he says.

"She is actually making the really useful point that depression is something that is often managed - rather than cured in the medical sense - in all kinds of different ways, often with a combination of therapy, drugs and things that are generally positive for wellbeing like exercise, diet and meditation."

Thomson says there is a trend toward being more open about depression and that can only be good.

"It reduces the stigma associated with the mental illness, makes people feel less alone and helps people seek help," he says.

Blogger Jane Yee has shared her story about depression on the Ministry of Health's The Low Down website. "I have no idea about Emma's situation but there's a chance this exercise, while clearly tongue in cheek, could go a little deeper and actually help her personally," Yee said.

Movember Foundation country manager Jim Slattery says the foundation fully supported Emma's auction. "I hope whoever bought it casts it out to sea."

Sunday Star Times