Friday 30 September 2016

‘The second I posted that video there was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders’ –Irishman overwhelmed by response to mental health video

Published 14/04/2016 | 11:15

Doug Leddin pictured after the Dublin Rock and Roll Marathon in 2014

An Irish man who inspired the nation with a video in which he spoke openly about his struggle with depression has said he felt a huge surge of relief after he decided to share his experience.

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Dubliner Doug Leddin (27) posted an emotional video to his Facebook page which has amassed more than 300,000 views and has been commended by well-wishers from around the world.

“It’s been amazing and unprecedented. I couldn’t believe how it struck a chord with so many people. I’ve been inundated with messages from well-wishers this morning.

“The main reason I decided to make this video was to encourage others to open up and speak about mental illness to their friends and family.

“The second I posted that video there was such a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Four years ago I couldn’t have ever spoken about depression or how I was feel. It was a huge relief.

In the video, shot by filmmaker Gerard Walsh, Doug revealed he has battled with depression for more than ten years, but did not have the courage to confide in his friends.

“When I finally admitted I had depression, my doctor encouraged me to share my diagnosis with a few close friends, which I did and it felt great.

“Making the video was something I tossed and turned about for months. I asked my friend Ger, who I’ve known for years, for a bit of help with it and even though I was anxious about posting it if it helps just one person it will have been worth it,” he said.

“I don’t want to see another person die because of depression, or for their struggle to be in secret. We need to be more open about it because people are a lot more accepting than you give them credit for."

Gerard Walsh (26), the filmmaker behind the video, revealed the was shocked to discover his friend had struggled with depression for so long without confiding in anyone.

Doug Leddin opened up about his struggle with depression
Doug Leddin opened up about his struggle with depression

"Doug called be up and asked if I'd be able to do a video for him but he didn't say what about. He sent me on a short video about depression so I had a bit of an idea then. But when we filmed we just got stuck in and it shocked me that he had been dealing with this for so long on his own.

"When he spoke so frankly about suicide... it shocked me. We've known each other for about ten years now, and I didn't know this about him.

"He was so worried about sharing his story, but I'm very proud of him for doing it," Gerard said.

In the emotional video, Doug admitted that he considered taking his own life at his darkest moments.

“I pushed myself into a dark place, dark corner. A corner where I only had one way out.  I thought about that way every single day for ten years and you shouldn’t think like that but I was alone in my own mind even though I could never be alone. I have so many friends and family, colleagues and teammates and I just needed to open up and I didn’t.

“Depression isn’t like breaking an arm where you go to the hospital and you get it fixed. Or chicken pox which you face once and never face again. It’s a lot deeper than that. In society if you break your arm you’ll find that people want to help you. They’ll open your door and carry your bags and asked you how it happened and sign your cast. We think with mental health issues that if you open up people will want to run away,” he said.

Doug and Gerard’s video has been viewed more than 300,000 times online, which Doug revealed was one of the aims of their mission

“In some ways I’ve hated the last ten years of my life going through this dire awful place alone but in other ways I’m grateful because it’s helped me see the light.

“If you’re suffering in silence you need to speak up and help ourselves and help each other,” he said.

Doug Leddin pictured after the Dublin Rock and Roll Marathon in 2014
Doug Leddin pictured after the Dublin Rock and Roll Marathon in 2014

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article please visit www.samartians.org

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