Luke, a Dublin singer/songwriter shares his story and talks about the power of music.
This series of blog posts are part of the See Change Make a Ripple campaign, an initiative to help end the stigma of mental health problems by sharing experiences and building public understanding.
If you’d like to tell your story, you can visit the Make a Ripple stories portal. If you’d like to write a longer piece like the one below, you can contact a member of the See Change campaign team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01 8601620.
Hi my name is Luke Clerkin, I am a mental health activist, an ambassador for Teen-line IRELAND and a singer/songwriter from Tallaght. I am also the co-writer of a single being released next month for suicide prevention and Teen-Line Ireland, called Never Alone.
My work as a mental health activist began after I read a post on Facebook about a friend of a friend dying of suicide. At that point I had overcome my own suicidal thoughts and I was recovering from depression and after reading that I thought to myself ‘I have to do something to help people who are going through what I’m going through’.
So I wrote a status on Facebook revealing my own struggles:
Right people , I’m not looking for likes, I’m not looking for sympathy, I just have to put this out there because I’m tired of hearing of people so young, taking their own lives. Depression is not something to be laughed about, it’s a sickness and if you’re experiencing it, it doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’re on your own, there are thousands of people going through the same thing. So if you’re reading this and feel you’re suffering with depression please just talk to someone, that’s what I did and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been before.
I then thought ‘I can do more to help’, so I decided to get in contact with some charities whose aims were to help young people in need of someone to talk to. Eventually I ended up going to Teen-line Ireland and asked them could I organise a fundraising gig. I chose to do a fundraising gig because I had just picked up the guitar again after 6 or 7 years of not playing it and thought it would be an opportunity to not only share my own music but to show how the power of music itself can make a difference. So after about 3 months of canvassing around Tallaght, getting the word out about the gig (which was to be held in Captain America’s, R.I.P. 🙁 ) and getting acts to play and getting raffle prizes, with the help of some family and friends, I ran the event. It went smoother than I’d expected it to be and all the worrying and panic attacks I’d succumbed over the months previous had been worth it and we raised over 350 euro. After the success of the Captain’s gig, I wanted to go bigger and bigger but I’d suffered a few knock backs about venues and other personal stuff came up so I spiralled back into the darkness.
After a while I came out of the darkness and back into the light and recorded a video for Suicide Awareness week as I’d felt guilty about not doing anything since Captain’s. I went around Dublin City with a camera to see what people knew about depression and suicide. I then perked up the courage to go looking for a job and ended up working in a garage as a shop/deli assistant. I had previously gone to interviews for other jobs but because I had told them about my struggles with mental health, I had never been given a position. The only reason I got the job in the deli is because I had experience working in one a few years back and the manager was only a year older than me, so he understood what I was going through. At first, my anxiety was a problem in the workplace and I had a nervous breakdown one day when the shop was really busy but after that everything went grand until I was given a lot of hours and for about a month or two and then I didn’t have the time or energy to do any of my activism work. It then came to world suicide day and I had come home from work to see other people writing up posts on Facebook about their own experiences with suicide and I thought to myself again ‘I have to do something!’ So I just started typing lyrics onto note pad , those lyrics were thoughts I’d been holding in for months so they just burst onto the screen. I then picked up my acoustic guitar and started strumming a random chord progression I’d taught myself and sang the lyrics along to it.
For the next few weeks, the lyrics were just left on the computer rotting in the documents folder because I had been given loads of hours in work, so I had no time to do anything with them. Eventually I left the garage due to my hours being shortened and I’d begun to work on the song again. Then one day I was going into town on the luas for a rehearsal with Clover Coast ( the band I’m in) and I read on Facebook that someone had committed suicide not too far from my house. This story had made me upset as had other stories of suicide victims and it wasn’t till after the rehearsal that I’d found out it was someone I had been a few years ahead of in school, Glen Haybyrne. I knew Glen from school and from knocking about the estate when I was growing up, I also knew all his friends, so this impacted me even more, and seeing all their posts on Facebook and seeing how much he meant to people, made me get in contact with a good friend of mine, Gavin Doyle, to ask him to help me work on the song. I said to him ‘we have to something for glen and we have to help other people before it gets worse’. The next day we went to the rehearsal studios in Rua Red with just my lyrics and an acoustic chord progression and came out with the guts of Never Alone. A young lad called Scott Fitzpatrick had also got in touch with me beforehand about wanting to play guitar for the song, he came in with an old acoustic guitar and ended up singing one of the main parts of the song instead. The weeks following our trip to Rua Red were the most progressive weeks of my whole life. To have the track as perfect as possible I went to a number of singers and musicians from around my area and also two of the lads from Clover Coast and asked them to get involved. Cian Donohue, a 22 year old budding music producer had let us record the music and vocals during about ten or more tiring overnight sessions in his studio, Block C Studios. From what started off as just me playing on the acoustic guitar at my computer has emerged into something awe inspiring, something powerful and something that I know is going to help a lot of people!
Throughout our recording sessions we went from just being a producer and loads of singers and musicians to becoming a family. The power of music is something that saved my life and now I vow to make it save the lives of others!
Never Alone will be released in late March/early April. To keep updated on things, please go tohttp://www.facebook.com/NeverAloneCharitySingle .
‘The high in life, is to live your life’ – Maureen Bolger, Founder of Teen-line Ireland
A big thank you to all the singers/musicians involved:
Sean Wazzer ( Percussion )
Gavin Doyle (Piano)
Liam McDonnell (Guitar)
Dave Tynan (Guitar)
Mikey Hyland (Guitar)
Jay Manassaro (Bass)
Lou Dearsley (Cello)
A special thank you to Cian Donohue, Marian Shanley West and most importantly everybody who has supported us so far.
There is hope, there is help; if you need to speak with someone, click through for a list of organisations that can help.
See Change understands that there is a complex multiplicity of perspectives on mental health problems and the experience of being unwell. See Change encourages the publication of material that promotes understanding of mental health problems, the experience of being unwell, and recovery. The opinions expressed by contributors are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of See Change, funders, or partner organisations.