MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: With Aisling O’Loughlin
This October some of Ireland’s most well-known faces took part in a week long broadcast of Walk in My Shoes Radio, Ireland’s only all-digital pop-up radio station. The station which is the only pop-up radio station dedicated to promoting positive mental health broadcast live from St Patrick’s University Hospital to mark World Mental Health Awareness Week.
The station’s celebrity ambassadors and a host of contributors shared their stories to encourage the Irish public to seek support if needed and make their mental health and wellbeing a priority.
RSVP sat down with Aisling O’Loughlin who shared her stories of anxiety, depression and grief.
What made you want to take part in this initiative, is it something you can relate to personally?
You can’t go through this life alone, we all need help sometimes. We all have different stories. I haven’t ever had chronic depression, but I know I’ve been down and I’ve struggled. I think grief is a really tough one. Heartache is also hugely underestimated because those two things can plunge people into despair and I’ve dealt with them in my life more so than depression or anxiety.
In the discussion of mental health issues, people do often forget about more short-term struggles like grief and the breakdown of a relationship, but these periods can be equally as traumatic.
I have had my bad periods and I think that is a very human thing. Sometimes when you are going through a particularly bad time, you wonder if you’ll ever get through this, it can feel all consuming. I’ve been there with grief and you wonder if the nightmare will ever end. I’ve lost some wonderful people along the way who’ll always be remembered. Our whole family was devastated when our beautiful cousin Nigel was killed in a car crash when he was just 17. He remains forever young and sadly missed. I’ve lost young friends to suicide which leaves behind a black hole of grief for those left behind. Life is full of tragedy and it’s impossible to avoid loss, but eventually you will come out the other side.
How have you coped with those periods in your life?
One thing that has been important for me is to talk. I talk things through and I’ve never carried a load too heavily. I also think a good premise is that life is not perfect or fair. Things happen, and when they happen, you deal with them and accept it is part of life. You concentrate on getting through it. What has helped me over the years is gratitude. It’s something both Beyoncé and Oprah – my two goddesses – practice, and there really is something in it. You have to count your blessings especially when you look at things like Syria. I’m going through my own stuff at the moment and that has helped me.
Is it difficult to remain positive and grateful when unexpected things happen in your life; the Xposé situation must be difficult?
It’s not hard to be grateful when you are sleeping in a warm bed at night and holding your baby. I feel for the mothers out there who are struggling to keep their children safe. Things like that put the world and what you are doing into perspective. Obviously, the new line-up for Xposé happened very publicly in the middle of my maternity leave. I must admit the timing caught me off guard, but it’s also forced me to consider my next career move and find new ways to provide for my family – and that is quite exciting, if not daunting. Sometimes we need something dramatic like this to step up and reach our true potential.