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Mindful : June 2018
tened to or understood the voice in my head. When I became aware of it, and how negative it was, I started to be even harder on myself. I had to start writing things down that I liked about myself, which at first were just things that other people said they liked about me. After I had James, I started feel- ing my heart opening for myself. You had been meditating since you were 18, and embarked upon many self- care pursuits through the years. Yet you were still struggling with undiagnosed depression and drinking a lot. What changed? The partying element was so free and easy in my industry. It was easy self-medicating. And temporarily, it does offer pain relief. After having my son, I started to wake up. James was the catalyst, because I wanted to be a better mom. ButIneededtodoitforme.AsIwent on, I was like, Hey, I might be worth it. I was discovering my own value. The journey over the past few years has been to sit with my emotions, which can be so painful. But it’s the only way. Until we start being truthful with ourselves and with everyone around us, we’re not going to heal. You can’t be talking about depression and be out drinking four or five nights a week. If you want to get better, you have to do the work. How does the message that alcohol and depression don’t mix land in Ireland, a place known for its pub culture? It’s a harsh truth, and one I didn’t want to hear for many, many years: If you have mental health problems you are exacerbating those problems if you are drinking. Alcohol is a depres- sant. I know we’d all love to think we can have a few glasses of wine and it’s fine, but it’s not. People are finally agreeing. We do have a big problem with drinking in Ireland, and it’s related to mental health. There’s a saying: If you want to be lonely, get sober in Ireland. We are not comfortable with people who don’t drink. How are the things you talk about— mindfulness and the idea of a more holis- tic model of health, facing depression, Alison and her son, James. Learning she was preg nant, Alison discovered her most compelling reason to recover from substance abuse—and began to love herself for the first time. dealing with addiction—received there? Irish people are definitely getting more interested in their health and their well-being. But in America, people are more open. If I post something about addiction, Americans will comment about their own struggles. In Ireland, people private-message me. Can you say more about this? We’re starting to talk about mental health a lot in Ireland. But I don’t think the stigma has been removed. People write to me, saying, “I’ve been struggling with depression,” but there’s still a lot of shame, like “Oh, you can’t cope.” → June 2018 mindful 39 the mindful interview