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Mary McEvoy: 'When I'm at my worst, it's like trying to stand up in quicksand'

Actress Mary McEvoy spoke about her difficulties with mental health as she relaunched the Irish branch of Recovery International.

Actress Mary McEvoy and volunteer Dermot Grennan at the relaunch of Irish mental health charity Recovery Self Help Method Ireland.
Actress Mary McEvoy and volunteer Dermot Grennan at the relaunch of Irish mental health charity Recovery Self Help Method Ireland.
Image: Catherine Healy/TheJournal.ie

ACTRESS MARY MCEVOY lived with anxiety and depression for years before she was diagnosed.

“It’s like having a rat in your head trying to eat its way out. It never stops,” she told audience members at the relaunch of Irish mental health charity Recovery Self Help Method Ireland, which provides free support for people who suffer from anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

“For me, when I’m at my worst, it’s like trying to stand up in quicksand,” she said.

Certainly in the periods of depression I’ve experienced, yes, I would go to counselling and does help, of course it does. [But] you sometimes have to wait a rather long time from one appointment to another, and you slip down.

McEvoy said the kind of free support provided by the charity would have been “an enormous help” to her in her darkest moments.

One of the reasons I started taking medication – apart from the fact that I need to keep on working to pay the bills – is that I couldn’t afford the amount of counselling I would have had to get.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t take medical advice but the one thing about [Recovery International] is that it gives you the skills to move on.

She added that she was taken aback by the level of support she has received since speaking about her condition, having initially being reluctant to publicly acknowledge her problems.

“My family wasn’t that happy [when I first spoke about it]. I was an only child, and my mum had been a psychiatric nurse and didn’t like it,” McEvoy said.

It was only really in the last 12 years, since my mum died, that I have really spoken out. I didn’t want to cause her any angst.

Training

Recovery Self Help Method Ireland provides volunteer-run cognitive behavioural training to patients at 22 locations around Ireland.

The 44-year-old charity, a branch of US self-help organisation Recovery International, facilitates a form of group therapy in which individual members provide each other with feedback on overcoming mental health challenges.

At weekly sessions, volunteer Dermot Grennan explained, “people describe a situation where they were stressed or scared, or felt angry”.

They describe their thoughts and inner experience, and explain how they’ve coped using the recovery method and what the result was.

Patients are then asked to endorse themselves, he said.

It’s like a mental pat on the back. You acknowledge, ‘I did well.’

Visit the Recovery Self Help Method Ireland website, www.recoveryireland.ie, for further information.

Read: Short of breath? Have trouble sleeping and feel uneasy? You could have an anxiety disorder

Read: Four years after his suicide, Gary Speed’s family find support in Ireland

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Catherine Healy

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