Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson will continue to be an advocate for mental health, but insists that she doesn’t wish to be seen as a celebrity, writes Denis Hurley.
Thompson has received praise for speaking out on depression, which she has experienced in the past.
However, she admits that the flurry of media engagements which followed actually led to further anxiety and she is keen to limit her exposure in that regard.
“When I first spoke out, I had every Tom, Dick and Harry ringing me for interviews and I had nobody to tell me what and what not to do and how to pace myself,” she said.
“Nothing I ever felt I did was the wrong thing to do but I just felt that I took way too much on at that point, and I definitely became overwhelmed and anxious.
“All that stuff is learning, it was overwhelming but you learn from it. When it comes to mental health, I’ll do whatever I can but anything outside of that, I don’t involve myself in.
“I’m here to play with Cork and that’s it. Nothing else outside that matters because, at the end of the day, I have to mind number one and that’s me.”
In February, Thompson appeared on The Late Late Show special Valentine’s Day edition, but in hindsight she would have preferred a different type of interview.
“If I could take it back, I probably would, and go on a separate night,” she said.
“The night itself was definitely the wrong situation for me, I was thrown into the deep end.
“People didn’t realise, it was supposed to be a totally different subject, everyone was drunk, I had to go on and just go with it.”
Thompson was speaking as New Ireland Assurance launched its second year of sponsoring Cork camogie. Much of the correspondence she receives is to do with mental health, and she is happy to provide advice to those who feel they need help.
“Ninety percent of what I get is on mental health, I get loads of emails and messages, I never get through them all, which is a pity,” she said.
“People thank me for having the balls to speak out about it and not really caring what anyone else thinks. At the end of the day, you have to mind yourself and you can’t be worried about what anyone else thinks.
“There’s the odd negative one, but there are people who don’t understand or who are just simply negative in general, looking for any reason to comment. It has almost always been positive.”
For Thompson and Cork, the next phase of the year is Saturday’s All-Ireland championship opener against Tipperary.
For the first time in four years, her club Milford are not the Cork champions, but the lack of a Munster and All-Ireland club campaign has allowed her to recharge.
“I feel like I’m a lot fitter this year and even my mood has improved,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to the year more. Sometimes, you do tend to step off the pedal a small bit when you’re going constantly 12 months of the year, it’s hard. It was nice to get that break and my fitness has improved, I wasn’t this fit this time last year, no way.
“It was nice to come back into the Cork training early to get things together.”