Wednesday 28 September 2016

Students in Limerick post inspirational video on how they overcame depression and anxiety

Published 09/03/2016 | 10:34

Three Limerick students have opened up about their battles with mental health in a bid to tell young people that it's okay to talk about depression.

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Caolan O'Donnell, Ciaran English and Ciaran Cleary discuss their own dealings with depression and panic attacks and how it affected their daily lives.

"I closed up. I started hiding myself away. Initially, I started ignoring calls. Within a week or so, I was staying in my room until 6 or 7 O'Clock in the evening. I was making excuses for not meeting up," said Caolan, who is running for Welfare Officer in the University of Limerick Students' Union elections.

"I was ashamed of myself. I was embarrased."

Later in the video, the Limerick man admitted he panicked and ran away the first time he went to seek help, but later he went in and did what he knew was best for himself.

"The third time, I bit the bullet and just went for it. It was the best decision it could have made."

The video was published to Facebook yesterday as part of Caolan's campaign. It has already been viewed close to 80,000 times.

The 22-year-old said he didn't want a gimmicky campaign video, but rather one that shows exactly what he stands for.

"I've worked in the college since I was a teenager and I've seen how bad people suffered from mental illness, but not facing up to it," he said.

"We posted it at 12.30 yesterday. It started getting massively shared. People were crying watching it.

"I got to share a special moment with a friend just before it went live. We both had a bit of a cry. We thought it might do some good around the college. Suddenly it went everywhere."

There has been such a massive response, that the Business Studies' student had to create a social media team to get back to people.

We're getting around 100-150 messages an hour. No exaggeration. It's been beyond overwhelming."

One response in particular meant a lot to Caolan.

I bawled my eyes out last night. We just got back and a guy I met a few times, who lost his father to suicide, had sent me a message.

"He said he wished there was someone like us a few years ago and maybe his dad would have realised he wasn't alone."

In recent times, the Castletroy native said he knows how to control his mental health and is able to react properly if things aren't going well.

"I know my limits and I know what my triggers. We need to come together on mental illness like we came together on the marriage referendum last year," he said.

He paid special mention to his campaign team, specially his campaign manager Evan Bleasdale and friend Patrick Lu, who helped him make the video.

"Working with him editing this video was an utter pleasure."

If you are affected by mental health issues, you can call Samaritans on 116 123.

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