Saturday 25 November 2017

WATCH: 'I never thought I'd be that person' - Al Porter praised for revealing stigma of depression

Al Porter spoke about his battle with depression on RTE's Cutting Edge
Al Porter spoke about his battle with depression on RTE's Cutting Edge

Sasha Brady

Comedian Al Porter has been praised for opening up about his struggles with depression and revealing his anti-deprassants live on Wednesday night's Cutting Edge.

The comedian spoke about the stigmas attached to anti-depressants and said that he found it difficult to admit to anyone that he had been prescribed medication, even his own mother.

In fact, the 23-year-old had only told his mother the truth just two hours before RTE's Cutting Edge was broadcast live.

"I really debated talking about this tonight," he told host Brendan O'Connor and fellow panelists, Sunday Independent columnist Dr Ciara Kelly and Sunday Times columnist Brenda Power.

"I'm going to tell you, and everybody watching, something that I didn't even tell my mam two hours ago," he said, before revealing that he had been prescribed anti-depressants.

The comedian has been nominated for plenty of awards, including Best Comedy Show award at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards and an IFTA Rising Star Award, but he was unable to truly enjoy his success. A friend, who noticed that something wasn't right, encouraged him to speak to a doctor.

"A friend of mine said 'If you're not enjoying everything that you're getting and you're having a great time and a great life and winning all these things, having a fabulous time and making everybody laugh, maybe it's not your circumstances, maybe it's a physical thing, maybe it's an imbalance'", he said.

The Tallaght native said he was too ashamed and embarrassed that he refused to speak to his own GP and, instead, travelled to Carlow to speak to a doctor.

"I never thought I'd be that person," he admitted. "Nobody in my family would think I'd be that person.

"I've been hiding [the anti-depressants] in my house. I've had my friend go and pick them up because I don't want to collect the prescription. I've had the prescription written out to different names other than my own."

The bubbly comedian said that he never before believed that the stigma surrounding anti-depressants was real until he needed them.

Al said that normally he's an "open book" and isn't afraid to share any detail of his life with people but the subject of anti-depressants were still taboo. It was the one area of his life that he was reluctant to be honest about.

"I couldn't admit 'yeah I need those pills, they're going to keep me balanced'", he said.

"If I can't cope with that, Jesus knows how somebody who doesn't have the confidence that I have[can cope], someone who's in their bed for three weeks going 'Who am I going to ring to pick [the anti-depressants] up for me?'"

Al was praised on social media for his honest discussion. Fellow comedian Dara O'Briain said he hoped Al's opensess would help dispel the stigma attached to anti-depressants and mental health issues.

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