First-time playwright Lorna Dalton blogs about the power of the arts in recovery and sparking discussion of mental health:
“My name is Lorna Kelly Dalton, I am a mother of 3 and housewife living in Firhouse, Dublin. I first began writing stories for my children when they were small and then later had the opportunity to write for a local variety group, comedy sketches, panto’s that kind of thing. It was around that time I realised my love for writing and so began writing in between changing nappies and doing housework.
In my own family like so many others in Ireland it has been hit hard by suicide and depression. My father was diagnosed with clinical depression after he retired a few years ago and another close family member has suffered with anxiety, alcohol addiction, depression, O.C.D, an eating disorder with several suicide attempts over the years. As a family member I felt very helpless and frustrated. I decided to deviate from my usual comedy style and write a play that I felt could highlight these issues.
I truly believe that the only way situations with regard to mental health issues can improve, is through talking and raising awareness thus helping to lift the stigma that unfortunately is still ever present in our country.
I had no experience or connections in the theatre industry so I decided to take a leap of faith and put my play on independently. I borrowed the deposit from my parents, booked the Civic Theatre in Tallaght, put up a notice on crooked house for auditions and sat back and hoped for the best. ‘Lean On Me’ had its debut run in Loose End Studio’s in the Civic Theatre, Tallaght in May to a sold out audience each night. All our profits were donated to Suicide or Survive whose support to my own family over the years has been invaluable. The response to the play was overwhelming and as a result Causeway Productions decided that it needed a professional production. And so I am going back to my roots (The Northside of Dublin) to the Sean O’Casey Theatre, East Wall for our second run from the thrd September in the lead up to Suicide Prevention Day, I feel the perfect way to 3– 7 mark such an important day.
I am so grateful for the love, support and selflessness of everyone involved in making this play possible, it has totally restored my faith in humanity. I truly believe that together we can all make a difference.