Musicians team up to fight depression

An online Wellness Workshop to help people battle depression over Christmas and beyond has been launched as support groups advised people to look out for others over Christmas.

Musicians team up to fight depression

The free initiative was launched by charity Suicide or Survive (SOS), based on practical workshops held around the country in recent years.

SOS chief executive Caroline McGuigan said the easy-to-follow online model was “focused on well-being and prevention”.

That sentiment was echoed by other organisations, which have urged people to support others over the festive period.

Irish musicians, authors, and actors have also come together to fight depression with another Christmas charity CD from The John Murray Show.

More than 450,000 people in Ireland suffer from depression, the equivalent of one in 10 people nationwide, and demand for mental health services remain high.

A Murray Christmas 2 features the RTÉ Concert Orchestra with guest artists Cathy Davey, Lisa Hannigan, Mick Flannery, Declan O’Rourke, and Walking on Cars, among others. It also features readings from author Michael Harding and Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh.

A promotional event in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral also included a special reading by Love/Hate actress Charlie Murphy, who read a letter Stephen Fry wrote about depression in response to a woman named Crystal Nunn.

“I had no idea who to turn to. But I really needed someone to turn to and to ease the pain,” said Crystal.

“So I wrote to Stephen Fry because he is my hero, and he has been through this himself. And, lo and behold, he replied to my letter, and I will love him eternally for this.”

In his response, Stephen sympathised with Crystal and made a point about the changeable nature of human feelings by comparing them to the weather.

“If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it,” he wrote. “It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row but it will be sunny one day. It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.

“Depression, anxiety, listlessness — these are as real as the weather — and equally not under one’s control.”

Proceeds from A Murray Christmas 2 go towards mental health charity Aware.

RTÉ Radio 1 presenter John Murray praised the work of the organisation. “Aware does amazing work for people with depression,” said Mr Murray. “There’s hardly a family in Ireland that hasn’t been touched by mental illness as I know only too well.

“It is so important for people and to have the support they need in tough times.”

Claire Hayes, the clinical director of Aware, said they are “absolutely delighted” to have been chosen as the beneficiary of the album.

“This project helps to shine a spotlight on the vital services that Aware provides and reminds us all of the power of words and music to help us feel connected,” said Dr Hayes.

“Sincere thanks is due to everyone who has helped to make this happen, including the artists and musicians who have so generously contributed their talent and their time.”

A Murray Christmas 2 costs €9.99 and can be purchased in record stores, bookshops, on iTunes, or via www.rté.ie/shop.

Damien Dempsey’s cover of the John Lennon classic ‘Happy Xmas (War is Over)’, which features on the album as the singer is accompanied by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, has been released as a single, on sale for 99c. n For more information and support, contact: Aware on 01 661 7211 Samaritans: 116 123 www.wellnessworkshop.ie

April 10, 2006

Dear Crystal,

I’m so sorry to hear that life is getting you down at the moment. Goodness knows, it can be so tough when nothing seems to fit and little seems to be fulfilling. I’m not sure there’s any specific advice I can give that will help bring life back its savour. Although they mean well, it’s sometimes quite galling to be reminded how much people love you when you don’t love yourself that much.

I’ve found that it’s of some help to think of one’s moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather: Here are some obvious things about the weather: It’s real.

You can’t change it by wishing it away.

If it’s dark and rainy it really is dark and rainy and you can’t alter it.

It might be dark and rainy for two weeks in a row.

BUT it will be sunny one day.

It isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will.

One day.

It really is the same with one’s moods, I think. The wrong approach is to believe that they are illusions. They are real. Depression, anxiety, listlessness — these are as real as the weather — AND EQUALLY NOT UNDER ONE’S CONTROL. Not one’s fault.

BUT they will pass, they really will.

In the same way that one has to accept the weather, so one has to accept how one feels about life sometimes. “Today’s a crap day,” is a perfectly realistic approach. It’s all about finding a kind of mental umbrella. “Hey-ho, it’s raining inside: It isn’t my fault and there’s nothing I can do about it, but sit it out. But the sun may well come out tomorrow and when it does, I shall take full advantage.”

I don’t know if any of that is of any use: It may not seem it, and if so, I’m sorry. I just thought I’d drop you a line to wish you well in your search to find a little more pleasure and purpose in life.

Very best wishes,

Stephen Fry

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