Charity Offers Car-Sharing Program For People To Discuss Depression

By David Konow 01/16/18

Northern Ireland's national charity sponsors the car rides where locals can open up about their battles with depression.

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Two women sitting in car talking to each other

Jarlath McCreanor is an Irishman in his early fifties who has battled depression for three decades. To help open up the conversation about mental health, he’s driving for an Irish charity, and passengers in his car are encouraged to openly talk about their struggles with depression.

As the BBC reports, McCreanor was tired of depression being spoken about in whispers, something he experienced all the time when people would say about him, in hushed tones, “He’s not well you know,” or, “He’s a bit off.”

On the doors of McCreanor’s car, it reads, "AWARE," which is the national depression charity for Northern Ireland. Underneath the AWARE logo it reads: "Overcoming Depression, Changing Lives."

“To me, it’s getting into people’s faces,” says McCreanor. He also likes to park his car “in the most conspicuous spaces. I would try and park it anywhere until someone would say, ‘No you can’t park it there.’”

McCreanor told the Belfast Telegraph, “AWARE is an amazing charity, I started to go to their support groups, and since then my journey has not been as tough.”

The BBC filmed McCreanor riding with two people, an older woman named Agnes, and a younger man named Ryan. As McCreanor drove, Agnes said, “I found that when people said to me, ‘How are you?,’ I felt like screaming, ‘Do you really want to know?’”

In the backseat, Ryan added, “For a while you’re able to sort of hold it in and keep everything together. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that I have depression. I didn’t want to admit that, I didn’t think it was possible for me to have that.”

McCreanor confessed he still has times when he’s “totally debilitated where I can’t leave the house, and I no longer want to live... It’s a constantly fleeting thought.” He told the Belfast Telegraph that he takes antidepressants, which he says “are essential, they take the edge off the illness. For me they are a crutch, not a cure—but I know if I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be here.”

McCreanor also says that riding with other people who suffer from depression makes him feel “more caring and more understanding of people’s mindset.” And while in the AWARE vehicle, Ryan says, “You really discover your inner strength when you go through this illness. You discover a part of you that you didn’t know was there.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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