'I'm a high-functioning, coping depressive': Elaine Crowley opens up about her mental health struggles

Virgin Media presenter Elaine Crowley says she has dealt with depression since her late teens, and explains how she manages it in a new video series with Aware


Television presenter Elaine Crowley has opened up about the mental health difficulties she has struggled with since a young age, describing herself as a "high-functioning, coping depressive".

In a video for the mental health charity Aware, Elaine speaks of the "melancholy" that became apparent when she was just eight-years-old. "I had a very safe childhood, but I suppose there was always a little touch of melancholy about me – that's what my mother would say.

"I was eight and I started playing the guitar. I had written a song called ‘I wish I was happier’, and I still remember the lyrics of it. I was eight so there was an inkling that not all was right."

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Clinical diagnosis

She moved to Dublin after her Leaving Certificate at the age of 16, which she saw as a huge culture shock, saying, "I'd never been away from my home more than a couple of days. I'd never been away from my family and I didn't really settle into college life too well.

"I got my degree in the end, but I suppose it was during college that the clinical diagnosis first would have raised its head.”

Since the diagnosis was made, Elaine has found ways of coping which aid in keeping her mental health on a positive road. Good sleeping patterns, a healthy diet and regular exercise are vital. However, it's being present which is at the centre of it all.

"I can’t think too much about the future. I try as best as I can to be in the present, cliché and all as it sounds. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. Yesterday – forget about it.”

 

 

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Those dealing with mental health issues say that the support network around them can bring them out of dark places. Elaine's sister Maggie is one of those people. "She’ll check up on me all the time.

"She worries about me all the time, she’ll know if I’m about to go off on a little tangent. It’s important for me to have Maggie to touch base with because she knows me like the back of her hand.”

Resilience

The presenter has accepted her diagnosis and has never missed a day of work because of it. But this, she feels, has exhausted other parts saying, "the effort it takes to do that has drained every other part of my life hugely and it's only now I'm realising."

She is now an advocate for diminishing the stigma that is still attached to mental illness in Ireland, one which also carries a narrative which details that mental illness is selective.

"We will all have difficulties and issues in life. It's how you cope with the things that are thrown at you.

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"You see someone like me, ‘Oh there she is on the telly, her glamorous job. She's talking to all the celebs. What possibly could be wrong with her life?’. There's nothing wrong with my life at all. You can take a statin if you've cholesterol problems. I mean, I just take another form of medication to keep my health in check. It's as simple as that, for me.”

Elaine's video is the first in the 'Resilience Series' which features well-known Irish celebrities speaking about their mental health struggles and how they have dealt with them.

Watch the full video below.

Aware is the national organisation providing support, education and information services for those impacted by depression, bipolar disorder and other mood-related conditions. Founded in 1985, the organisation developed in response to the clear need for information, understanding and support, both for individuals with a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder as well as family members supporting a loved one. For more information, please visit www.aware.ie


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