“Something had changed; it was as if I had lost something precious that I could never get back.”
When she was 15, Chloe Lappin didn’t understand what was going on in her mind. Years later, finally driven beyond exhaustion, she began to understand her depression.
Currently a postgraduate student in NUI Galway, Chloe worked extensively with Please Talk, a national mental health initiative. The official website says that Please Talk’s purpose is to “[urge] students to understand that talking is a strength, not a weakness”.
Launched in 2007, the group was originally a response to the suicide of a number of UCD students. It promotes the use of student support such as counselling and chaplaincies.
Being open and honest about your mental health is difficult at first. Speaking at a Please Talk event, political consultant Johnny Fallon said that “it’s the hardest thing in the world to do”.
To emphasise this, he explained the mechanics of a high jump; “It’s simple. It’s not hard. But we know that if you’re like me and you try to do it, you take a run at it and you face-plant yourself into the pole and you never get off the ground – because the execution of it is hard.”
To this end, Please Talk have supplied a ‘How To Talk’ guide on their site, covering why you should talk, but also how to get started, what to say, and who to talk to.
Mr Fallon was speaking at the launch of a Please Talk exhibition here in NUI Galway, ‘Art Is A Wound Turned Into Light’.
“Now, if I wanted to betray my philistine roots,” Fallon continued, “I would quote two great philosophers of our time, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and say, ‘When all hope is gone, sad songs say so much’.
“The greatest poems, the greatest art, the greatest songs all come usually from a place of hurt and pain where somebody has turned them into something beautiful that people relate to. But in doing that, you need to be able to talk.”
The exhibition was organised by Chloe Lappin, who also spoke at the launch.
“At Please Talk, we don’t want to dictate what kind of help you seek or who you should talk to. We just want to encourage people to find a meaningful means of expression that works for them.”
Please Talk also held a candlelight vigil in the Chapel of St. Columbanus on campus. Several volunteers spoke at the event about their experiences and understanding of emotional health issues.
In an article on the Please Talk website, Chloe reflected on her depression; “Human pain is human pain, whatever label you wish to put on it. My pain came in the form of depression; it was a part of my life, and remains a part of my story.
“I am in no doubt that it is a story that will be understood by many.”
Please Talk can be found at pleasetalk.ie.
If you experience any of the problems mentioned in this article, there is a free counselling service available at NUI Galway for students. To avail of this, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 091 492 484.
By Mark Laherty