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pj gallagher

'I had people fighting for me': PJ Gallagher opens up about his experience with mental illness

The actor and comedian spent several months in hospital last year after experiencing debilitating anxiety.

ACTOR AND COMEDIAN PJ Gallagher has opened up about his experience with mental illness, including his time spent in hospital last year.

Speaking on The Late Late Show last night, Gallagher said he “started having a depressive episode pretty much this time last year”, when he experienced “overwhelming anxiety that kept building and building and building.

“I really didn’t want to live anymore … It was just this overwhelming feeling that I was in the way, that it was making life harder on everyone around me and I was failing at everything.”

Gallagher, who was cohosting the Morning Glory show on Radio Nova at the time, said he resisted going to hospital for some time, but described his experience as a patient as “brilliant”.

“The first week was really, really tough, because I was still a danger to myself,” he said, recalling how he initially didn’t want to leave his room on the ward.

“The only safe place in the whole world was this tiny little room.”

“And then I got to a stage where I was having the craic. I was playing bingo. And winning!”

‘You need people to fight for you’

When asked by host Ryan Tubridy about what advice he would give to people in distress, Gallagher reflected on “all this talk of mental health.”

“It’s great – talk to people – but nobody talks about ‘mentally ill’.

“I don’t need to talk. I need 24 hour around-the-clock care.”

He paid tribute to his friend, writer and actress Stephanie Preissner, who he said “literally saved my life.”

“I was so lucky. I did have people fighting for me.”

‘The whole pub knew’

Gallagher drew laughs from the live audience when he recalled discovering that people knew he had been in the hospital.

“I never thought I’d ever tell anyone about it … I went down to the pub last week and said ‘I’m on the Late Late next week, and I just want you to know that I was in hospital for a couple weeks’. And they went ‘Oh, yeah, we know, yeah.

“I was like, well, why didn’t you say something? … the whole pub knew!’

Need help? Support is available:

  • Samaritans – 116 123 or email
  • Pieta House – 1800 247 247 or email (suicide, self-harm)
  • Aware – 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
  • Teen-Line Ireland – 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 18)
  • Childline – 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)
  • SpunOut – text SPUNOUT to 50808 or visit

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