Thursday 24 May 2018

'We were kicked out for laughing' - Social media campaign by two Irish friends is making people smile

Claire O'Brien quotes Roald Dahl for her reason to make everyone smile. Photo: SmileforMe2018
Claire O'Brien quotes Roald Dahl for her reason to make everyone smile. Photo: SmileforMe2018
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

Two Irish friends who have had their own personal experiences with mental health issues have started an Instagram page to make people smile.

Leanne Coyle (21) started SmileForMe2018, an Instagram and Facebook page, last January, drawing inspiration from the popular Facebook page Humans of New York.

A photographer, she features a photo of a different person every day and asks the person being photographed to tell a story or say something that would make the viewer smile.

Leanne suffered from bulimia from when she was 16 and is now recovered. Her friend Adam Fitzhenry, who also runs the page, suffered stress and panic attacks when he was sitting his Leaving Cert exams.

Leanne, from Cavan told Independent.ie: “I'm fully recovered now and I was thinking, you can either just sit on [the experience] and hold it in the back of your mind or you can turn all that negative into something positive so that’s what I’m trying to do."

“I didn’t want to just sit back. If I can help at least one person, that’s my job done."

“When I started I honestly didn’t think it would become this popular. So many people have messaged us to say how it’s helped them. It’s such a simple thing, but it’s the power of a smile. A smile is so contagious.”

“The fact that it’s a daily thing, people are constantly waiting to see who’s going to go up on the page next,” Leanne added.

“Little did I know that when I was a very young boy, myself and my brother would be thrown out of a church above all places. We were eight years old and the old woman in front of us farted. Myself and my brother were laughing uncontrollably and we were and we were quite literally kicked out of church on a Saturday night. Some people don't realise that their body language speaks volumes. Don't bottle up hurt and emotion, use it to empower you. We are all only human after all so do the right thing for your mental health. You deserve peace and happiness too. Confide in a family member or friend. If you are unsure, speak to someone, even if it's a complete stranger over the phone… they may see a side to your story that you may not have thought of. Always remember that in life, no matter what the situation is, we have options. We have the power to make changes to better our future. I accepted help from my local hospital and I can smile because I know now I was not alone. Choose to smile. I lost my brother Thomas eight years ago to cancer. He was the smiliest person I knew so I'm doing it for him. He's smiling for all of us.” Gerard Gaffney - 14/1/18 #smileforme2018 #mentalhealthawareness #instasmile #2018 #picoftheday #behappy #positivity #instagram #Ireland #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #hello #goodday #hello2018 #happiness #endthestigma #stopthestigma #cavan #thisiscavan

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"So I've known Sophie for a good few years. We played football together when we were kids. We didn't talk for years, not for any particular reason. We just never talked really. But honestly, she's my best friend. If I'm ever upset I know she's there to pick me up, no matter what the situation is. Friends like that make me happiest. Everyone deserves a friend like Sophie. I didn't want her to see this until the pic went up, that's why I sent it to you." . . . . Jodie Wynne and Sophie Loughlin - 9/3/18 . . . . @todayfm @rte2fm @bressie @instatubridy @rubberbanditsofficial #smileforme2018 #mentalhealthawareness #instasmile #2018 #picoftheday #behappy #positivity #instagram #Ireland #today #mentalhealthmatters #mentalwellness #happiness #endthestigma #stopthestigma #healthy #youth #bethedifference #Friday #icare #dreams #hope #friyay #bestfriends #student

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Check out the Instagram and Facebook pages for more.

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