MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS: With Alison Canavan
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 Alison Canavan who shared her stories of anxiety, depression and grief.
When did your own struggle with depression begin?
I suffered from depression at a very early age. I felt sad even when I was younger and I struggled with depression and having that sense of loneliness and isolation even though I was surrounded by people. I can really relate when people say they feel guilty about suffering from depression because to the outside world I seemed to have everything. I was modelling in Paris at the age of 15, I was walking catwalks all over the world. To the outside world, my life was amazing. But over the years it kept creeping in, my anxiety got worse with travelling and I tried to deal with it through medication and partying, as that was the only time I really felt free and relaxed. But you can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change. You have to want it for yourself.
What changed for you that put you on the path to recovery?
After my son was born, I just thought I can’t take this anymore. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t run from my problems – I had to start dealing with them. I had been trying over the years but I always struggled. It wasn’t until we connected all the dots – what I was eating, how I was living, my exercise, my relationships – that it all came together. It’s all interrelated and it is so important. It took a long time to get here though and the first few years were the hardest. It hasn’t been a perfect road, but I’ve dealt with it and I am dealing with my emotions now and working through my problems instead of trying to escape them through pills or alcohol. It’s all about changing our habits and also our mind-sets.