As Biddy in RTE’s long-running series Glenroe, Mary McEvoy was a much-loved feature of Irish family life. But she was hiding a dark secret. She tells Maria McHale about her years of depression, and how she came to deal with it.
Mary McEvoy believes the hardest part
periods come and go, and I think it is
about living with depression is that on
really important to break down the day
the outside you still look normal. It’s
into small bite-sized moments. First,
a difficult illness to deal with because
get yourself out of bed, then work on
there are no outward signs that there
getting into the shower, and so on.
is something wrong.
Suddenly, you can achieve something, whereas when you’re down and feel
It encourages people into a fickle
too much pressure, the danger is just
response, she believes: “You hear
to pull the covers over your head.”
people say ‘There’s not a bother on you, you look grand.’ What can you
For years, she felt guilty for feeling
say to that? You don’t feel grand on
depressed when she had no “reason”
the inside and you give up trying to
to be, coming from a stable family
background with no real problems growing up.
One of our national treasures, Mary McEvoy’s life has long been defined
But she is kinder to herself now, and
by her alter ego Biddy, a character
would like to see Ireland become
she played for 17 years in the long-
a kinder society. “We are dragging
running RTE drama Glenroe.
ourselves down at the moment,” she believes. “There is a lot of meanness
There were pressures at the time to
about the place. We don’t seem to be
separate herself from Biddy, but time
able to sympathise and empathise
has moved on and these days Mary is
with each other.”
better know for her media work – the
Lean on Me Pharmacy
r e v o s d u o l c k c Bla
e o r n e l G
The Lean on Me website (www. leanonme.net) has excellent information about depression, and advice on how to begin a conversation about depression
day we meet she is preparing to go
It’s a fact borne out by a recent survey
on air in her role as Newstalk’s agony
from the Lean on Me Campaign, which
found that most Irish people would
Depression stalked her life back
not want to know if a loved one was
then too, she says, and it was “a
suffering from depression.
complete relief” when she was finally diagnosed, to be able to put a label on
“It’s sad that we cannot reach out to
how she was feeling.
each other and help be a shoulder for someone who is suffering. We need
and how to support someone affected by depression. And
“Yes, it’s not like depressed people
to find those qualities in ourselves to
now the Lean on Me Pharmacy
are going around looking physically
make our society better,” says Mary.
campaign aims to encourage the one in 10 people in Ireland affected by depression to consider their community
sick. I can work everyday and people look at me and can’t see anything
Her own coping mechanisms have
wrong,” she explains.
expanded in recent years to include running – a new passion that she
pharmacist as a source of advice and support. As Mary McEvoy says: “I need different levels of support at different times and my pharmacist and GP play an important support role, in addition to my friends and family.”
Completely pragmatic about
finds uplifting, even addictive. “It’s the
depression, Mary says there are
endorphins. It’s such a good feeling,
definite coping mechanisms required
although I’m the slowest runner ever!
to keep depression at bay.
There is a great sense of community and belonging in running groups,
“I’ve had times in my life when I have
and it’s about the taking part and the
cried all the time,” she recalls. “These
running – it’s all good.”
Published on Mar 7, 2014