Friday 22 June 2018

'I suffered unbelievable depression and anxiety' - Blindboy Boatclub on mental health resonated with Tommy Tiernan Show viewers

Tommy Tiernan interviews Blindboy Boatclub on The Tommy Tiernan Show
Tommy Tiernan interviews Blindboy Boatclub on The Tommy Tiernan Show
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The Tommy Tiernan Show is proving a consistent hit with viewers and Wednesday night was no different as Blindboy Boatclub and Nigel Owens gave two powerful interviews highlighting mental health issues.

The RTE show is unique in Ireland in that host Tiernan has no idea who he will be interviewing before they appear on studio, so the conversation tends to flow and take interesting tangents that may not happen if he was prepped.

Imelda May, Nigel Owens, and Blindboy Boatclub were the three interviews on the night, but the big hit with viewers was Blindboy of Rubberbandits' fame who has been working to highlight mental health issues in Ireland and to help people to work through them, as he has done himself.

Speaking about his hometown of Limerick, he said the city has the highest rate of suicide in the country and that people his age were deeply affected by the recession.

"The recession would have hit when I was in my early twenties and half my friends went to Australia, the other half died and the ones that didn't die were left with severe mental health issues because of lack of a support system and the pressures of their daily lives and lack of seeing a future," he said.

One day he realised that 70 per cent of men under 30 in Ireland followed the Rubberbandits on Twitter and Facebook so he wanted to find a way to bring his knowledge on mental health to those young men.

"I thought okay, how can I bring the stuff I learned training to be a psychotherapist, how can I bring that to those people but do it in a medium that isn't intimidating, do it with a bag on my head, do it through a bit of craic."

Of his own mental health journey he said, "I used to suffer unbelievable depression and anxiety and things like that and I came out the other side of it using psychological tools so I wouldn't mind people learning a bit of that.  A lot of it you can get through self-help."

Blindboy revealed that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) worked for him as it "helps you retrain how you think".

He said, "because I was able to come out of that - it wasn't even that difficult.  It wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be.  I was in a hopeless place, but because I came out of it I'm going, 'Jesus Christ why isn't this in schools?  Why isn't this available to everyone, these tools?'"

Although he always appears in public with a bag on his head he said the man behind the mask is "not too far off" the 'character' the bag represents these days and added that he only wears the bag now for "privacy".

Blindboy's interview on the show was followed by a powerful interview with Nigel Owens in which he spoke candidly about coming out as gay after years of struggling with his mental health and an attempt at taking his own life.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritas on 116 123 (UK and Ireland) or email jo@samaritans.org

You can watch these interviews and the full The Tommy Tiernan Show on the RTE Player

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