COMEDIAN Ruby Wax has not felt the 'black dog' in seven years, but has vowed to continue campaigning for mental health.
The 62-year-old gave a lecture at St Patrick's University Hospital in Dublin yesterday for Founder's Day, an annual education event on how to recover from a mental illness through learning.
The author and actress told the Irish Independent that while she has been able to handle depression in her life through 'mindfulness' – a mixture of meditation and cognitive behaviour therapy – she does not intend to stop raising awareness and sharing her story.
Wax said that while she does not see herself as a role model, she is aware that being in the public eye helps in the fight to get rid of the stigma attached to mental illness.
"I'm not a role model, I just went out on my own to find out how to deal with mental illness. But then I kind of helped the cause because I'm funny and can deliver the cause's message with a sense of humour. That's my mission," she said.
Wax, who discusses depression in her new book, 'Sane New World', added: "It's about others and listening to their stories, hearing what they have to say.
"A lot of people approach me to talk to me and I kind of love that, because it makes me feel not so alone."
Although her trip to Dublin this week was a whistle-stop visit, Wax said she was looking forward to returning next year with her one-woman show – a stage version of her book.
"Irish audiences are the best, they get me, they get darkness and funny. So that combination is just fantastic," she said.
Also speaking at the Founder's Day event were Pat McGorry, founder of youth organisation Headspace, and Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch.
Ms Lynch gave a talk on innovation and recovery. She said that encouraging young people to speak out as much as possible could play a major part in reducing the number of suicides in Ireland.
"It is still a serious issue and if only one person died by suicide in Ireland next year, that's still one too many," she said.
"I'm not certain we'll ever eliminate it entirely, but getting the message out there as much as possible is important. Young people are important and very much loved, that's the message for them. People become distressed when they run into difficulty, but there's a lot of help out there, so we'd appeal that they talk to someone."