- 10 Oct 18
We invited a 100-strong chorus of artists, writers, musicians, broadcasters, sports stars and more to contribute to Now We’re Talking, a mental health campaign, run in partnership with Lyons Tea and Pieta House. Katie O'Neill talks about changing the conversation...
It’s really important to be open about our mental health struggles if we can.
There’s a toxic culture in Ireland of “Ah sure you’ll be fine – just have a drink”; or “Ah no, stop being a moan”; or my least favourite, the idea that you have to be “the craic.” These are really unhelpful and dangerous ideas we need to stop cultivating.
We grow up with a set of lessons and programming from our culture, families of origin and school/learning environments. Some of those lessons can cause anxiety, depression and other mental health struggles. One of the best things I ever did was to realise this, admit it to close friends and myself, and start seeing a therapist. I was struggling with these issues for years before I sought help.
Music and art enable me to express these things, but I’ve grown past the idea that it’s enough to box issues like this in creative pursuits. They need more attention. Becoming aware that I was avoiding my issues by looking to relationships, work or distraction to solve them has helped. Avoiding alcohol has too. Exercise, eating well and practising saying no to things I don’t really want to do, rather than always worrying what the other thinks, is also key.
It’s not easy to let go of old habits and it’s not something we can do by ourselves. Some issues are too big or confusing for friends and family – I highly recommend support groups (usually free) and therapy. As my favourite comedian Maria Bamford says: “You think you’re a really awful person who has done awful things and no one will ever love you? Google it – someone has done it before you and is now on a book tour.”
Highly recommended by Katie Podcasts: The Mental Illness Happy Hour and The Hilarious World of Depression. Book: The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron.
100 Voices was published in the Hot Press Mental Health Special in conjunction with Lyons Tea and Pieta House as part of the Now We're Talking Campaign. For more please visit hotpress.com/now-were-talking/