O'Leary spoke to the primetime radio audience about how it is necessary to normalise and de-stigmatise mental health in order to help those with depression.

She praised Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy for speaking about the issue in the Dail last week: "You know just when you despair of politicians, they can really surprise you. Robert Troy of Fianna Fail decided the full day Dail debate on mental health a week or so ago should mean something - so he revealed his own experience of depression and anxiety to support the argument for better funding for mental health services in this country.

"He said he suffered from anxiety and minor depression which he found crippling and all consuming... that took courage. Politicians don't like to reveal anything that might make them seem vulnerable."

She then spoke of her own experience: "It isn't that you've been through the hell and isolation of depression and anxiety that you've any idea of what it's like or what it takes to get over it. It's happened to so many of us. It happened to me in my 20's.

"I remember a full year when I didn't care if I got up in the mornings. I remember sitting on the train home and missing my stop because I couldn't motivate myself to stand up and get out.

"I didn't care where the train was going to take me and where I'd end up, and I ended up in some strange places - but mostly I ended up alone, in my room.

"I was lucky because somebody who loved me stepped in fast and got me some psychiatric help. With the right drugs and some therapy I recovered."

The journalist added that she continues to work on her own mental health today: "I'm weary of it, I know it could happen again. I guard against what for me were the triggers of it - working too hard, stress, heavy drinking, not enough contact with family or friends, no exercise, no fresh air, no music, no poetry, no listening to the excited bird outside your kitchen window, or singing in your choir... or whatever it is that makes you stop and be happy.

"So I try to remember the psychologist Maureen Gaffney's advice: Be quite deliberate about thinking positive thoughts, particular first thing in the morning. Negative thoughts have almost four or five times the strength of positive ones, so you have to work at not being overwhelmed by negativity.

"The problem with depression and anxiety is that when you most need help, you're least able to ask for it - and become even more isolated."


The broadcaster went on to ask that the next government make the necessary steps to address the issue by allocating appropriate rescouces: "The silence that surrounds mental health has insured that it has remained the Cinderella of the health service...

"Attitudes have changed today but because we still don’t want to talk about mental illness we can’t argue for it to get the funding it deserves."

Drivetime, presented by Mary Wilson, is on weekdays on RTÉ Radio 1 from 4.30pm.