Alice Ní Fhlanagáin has spoken out about her struggle with depression, and is now sharing her story in the hopes of helping others.
TG4 journalist Seán Ó Baoill spoke to Alice about self-harm and how she managed to overcome depression.
“I remember thinking to myself ‘If I wasn’t here, nobody would miss me’. That would have been my lowest point,” Alice said.
“I wasn’t able to make sense or understand the thoughts in my head and the only way I was able to deal with the frustration was to self harm in order to turn it into something physical that I could control.”
Alice said that things were made increasingly difficult as people assume that everything is “hunky dory” when they see that someone appears happy, has good friends, and is doing well academically. This however, is not the case.
“At that time I felt that there was nobody in my corner supporting me.”
Something that helped Alice during her journey were her horses, who she would feed each morning.
“No matter how low I was feeling, that was something I did,” she explained, “this is what helped me through the darkest days.”
TG4 highlights that one in four people will struggle with a mental illness of some form in their lifetime, such as depression or anxiety.
According to the National Office for Suicide Prevention’s Annual Report for 2016, 8,909 people were treated at hospital for self-harming, marking a 1% increase in self-harming since 2015. Between 2007 and 2010 there was an increasing trend in the rate of self-harm in Ireland, with a 19% increase overall during this period.
Young people are the most vulnerable to self-harming, with young women aged between 15 and 19 being the most affected. One in every 131 girls in this age group presented to hospital in 2016 as a consequence of self-harm. Another group that is particularly vulnerable are men aged between 20 and 24, with one in every 194 men being affected.
Doctor Edward Harkin says that exercise can help, and believes that getting moving is one of the most effectives ways to combat mental health problems.
Dr Harkin told TG4 that on a day-to-day basis, he sees many different mental health problems from patients ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia.
“People don’t come in with just one disorder, there is often an overlap and often when people come in they don’t realise what is wrong.
“One thing that can help is exercise, running, swimming, walking, yoga, whichever one you are interested in.”
“Exercise releases endorphins which allows us to cope better with sitations to relax and relieve tension in the body. It even boosts your self confidence. It is also a social activity, you are out meeting and talking with people.
“The most important thing is to recognise that there is a problem. Simple things like talking can help, that could be someone at home or a profesisonal. Also getting active can make a big differnece.
“Most of the time these simple things can help, and if they don’t help your doctor can provide other forms of help.
“The important thing is to speak out.”
Alice says that self-care is the most important thing for recovery. Don’t rush yourself, and take things day by day.
“It doesn’t matter how bad it may seem, you need to give yourself time to heal,” she says.
“Don’t expect things to change overnight, you need to give yourself time and space and don’t be too hard on yourself.”
If you have been affected by any of the topics raised in this article please do not hesitate to reach out to the following:
• Contact your local GP. If it’s late in the evening or night-time, contact NowDOC at 1850 400 911
• Go to the Emergency Department, Letterkenny General Hospital
• Contact emergency services by calling 999 or 112
• Call the Samaritans, the FREE 24-hour listening service, to talk to someone now about what’s on your mind. Call 116 123.
• Contact Pieta House on 1800 247 247.