Roisin Whelan and ‘The Fear’

3 Feb

There has been a heartwarming reaction to a guest blog on the First Fortnight website by Roisin Whelan on her struggle with mental health. First Fortnight, the arts festival that aims to challenge mental health prejudice, took place in January this year.

Roisin wrote bravely and openly about her problems with nerves and her experience of ‘The Fear’. She talked to Newstalk’s Tom Dunne on 13 January about her experiences and the reaction to her post.

Roisin described how difficult it is to explain feelings of sadness and depression, of ‘being in a hole’ and not to be able to get out of bed or go to work. When depression, nerves, anxiety etc are mentioned people do not know how to react.

Though her cancer diagnosis at the age of 18 was probably one trigger, Roisin believes she always suffered from nerves. Hers is a case of anxiety rather than depression. She described feeling as if she couldn’t be in her own head. She felt angry and had The Fear, fear of life rather than anything in particular. She would sometimes take to her bed.

Roisin described how one day at work a stranger asked her what was wrong and gave her a number to call. Talking to someone regularly eventually made Roisin feel safe and she now loves going for her ‘chats’. A feeling of safety is very important to those with anxiety.

Roisin agreed with Tom that to start talking is the single biggest factor in recovery. Although she never had suicidal thoughts, she understands how people can self-harm or commit suicide: all the fears and anxieties build up and need a release. People should risk causing offence and ask someone if they are okay; it’s okay to feel bad.

Although initially worried about writing the post, it was a form of therapy. She believes that arts are brilliant for the mind and can free people from the different voices in their heads. She was also overwhelmed by people’s kind reactions, having thought she was the only person to feel this way.

Read the blog post (beautifully entitled ‘Don’t be scared’) and reactions here:

Listen to Roisin talk to Tom Dunne on Newstalk here:


3 Responses to “Roisin Whelan and ‘The Fear’”

  1. roisalicious February 4, 2012 at 11:36 am #

    Thanks so much for the lovely piece you wrote above – It made my day : ) – Roisin

  2. vidabryan February 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    Hey Roisin, thanks a million. I think you made many people’s days with your honesty and your brilliant attitude 🙂

  3. mark atkinson February 4, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Im going into hospital on monday to have my testicals removed due to cancer

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