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'It makes me feel less isolated': We chat to James Kavanagh about his approach to mental wellness

‘No one is alone.’

AS PART OF our ‘U OK, Hun?’ series on mental wellness, this week chatted to James Kavanagh.

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Coffee & a lol 🌞

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Exuberant, entertaining and gloriously eccentric at times, James’ rise to public prominence began with the cultivation of a unique social media presence – a contribution to the online world which captivated hundreds of thousands of people in recent years.

Effortlessly funny and – for many – the antidote to their own ‘down days’, James is, himself, no stranger to the ‘balancing act’ that is maintaining mental wellness.

Here he discusses how he navigates low moods, the methods he calls upon when he finds himself flagging, and the importance of reminding yourself that no one is ever alone.

Can you always identify when your mental health needs attention, or have there been times when a friend/ family member has had to intervene?

“Luckily, I can,” James tells us. “I, like millions of others, go through ups and downs. I can sense immediately when I’m in a ‘down’ phase.”

I think it’s important to ride the wave of the ‘down’ just as you would when you’re feeling great. Figure out why you’re feeling that way and you might learn how to cope with it. I like being alone when I’m not feeling great and I find certain things help me out of it; watching cooking shows, eating nice food, certain herbal teas et cetera.

“It’s important to find out what little things make you happy,” he adds.

Are there certain habits or activities which tend to have a negative effect on your mental wellness?

“Not really,” James replies. “And that’s the annoying part of mental health; the bad parts don’t have a schedule nor does it discriminate – it can attack anyone at any time.”

“For me, I can be having the best week or day and then BAM, I feel like shite,” he explains before sharing the methods he uses to address those sudden moods.

“As cliched as it sounds, I feel so good after a run or a walk. Good food always lifts my mood too,” he says.

What’s one thing you’ve learned as you’ve gotten older in terms of how to better manage your mental health?

“That mental well-being is a constant balancing act – and that’s OK,” he says.

A refreshing thing I’ve learnt too is that nearly every single person I know has bad days and we’re all just trying to manage it.

“It’s also imperative to ride along with the bad days too. Allow yourself to wallow in the ‘down’ periods.”

Have any misconceptions about any element of mental health changed as a result of your personal experience?

“Again, that mental illness does not discriminate based on wealth or success,” James surmised. “Knowing that everyone is at the mercy of their own mental health is somewhat refreshing and makes me feel less isolated.”

Do you feel that words like ‘anxious’ and ‘depressed’ are used too lightly in today’s society or do you think its vital that the language is commonplace in order to remove stigma?

“Nope, it’s amazing to see those words being used more and more. The more we talk, the easier it gets for everyone,” James said. “No one is alone.”

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Niamh McClelland

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