Thursday 22 August 2019

Actress Mary McEvoy pens a letter to her 16-year-old self: 'When you accept that life is difficult, funnily enough, it gets easier'

Mary McEvoy
Mary McEvoy

Irish actress Mary McEvoy pens a letter to her teenage self and offers the life advice she wished she'd had back then

Dear Mary,

Please know that you’re healthy now. Guard your mental health and take it seriously. As you grow up, try to establish strong personal boundaries – allow people in, but don’t let them put you down. If they try to put you down, just realise that it’s their problem and not yours. That negativity is always more about them than it is about you.

Believe people when they say nice things about you – be able to take a compliment. Don’t let anyone body-shame you. I could almost guarantee you you’re not as fat as you think you are. If I was the weight that I was when I first started dieting, I would be delighted now. I was a normal weight, but because there was a pervasive feeling of “you’re never really thin enough,” I started dieting and that’s when my weight problems started. Just realise that bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Learn to dance –when your heart is sad, it’s always good to move. I think it’s very hard to understate how important movement and exercise is. It’s not an absolute cure, but it really does help.

Whenever you’re down, just put one foot in front of the other. You don’t have to make a big leap; it can be something as small as just getting out of bed, trying to make yourself a cup of tea, because they are the actions that will nurture you in the long run.

Definitely seek professional help, but also know that you have a say in how you treat your illness.

If you are lonely and upset – call your friends and tell them that you’re lonely and upset.

If you have a friend who is feeling down, say, “Look, I’ve noticed you’re not in the best form, if there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know.” If they say no, then just tell them, “Well, I’m here.”

Don’t try to cheer them up. Sometimes it’s just as simple as spending time together without saying anything at all. You can tell them, “We don’t have to talk, I’ll just sit here and read.” One of the best things that anyone did for me was when I went to a gig with two friends of mine in Dublin, and they knew I was down, and they just sat with me. I didn’t feel like talking, but that was fine. They were very happy to enjoy their evening with me there; I didn’t need to talk to justify my presence.

When I’m down, I feel like there’s a great big party being held all over the world and I’m not invited. It seems like everyone else is enjoying their wonderful shiny lives and I’m not. The reality of it is we’re all struggling in one way or another.

What’s really important is a balance of compassion for yourself and compassion for others. We’re all human beings with drawbacks and shortcomings, and we just need to learn to live with them and understand that we can’t do it all. Once you realise that life isn’t supposed to be easy, you stop running after a fantasy life that’s completely devoid of conflict or bad feelings. When you understand and accept that life is difficult, funnily enough, it gets easier.



Mary stars in ‘The Matchmaker’ which runs at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre until November 14.

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