Bronagh Loughlin is a third-year student on the BA (Hons) in Communication and Media Production. She also works as a freelance journalist and part-time in communications. She told us all about her Griffith story.
Embracing differences at Griffith
I have always suffered with mental health issues, from an eating disorder in my early teen years and self-harm to depression and overwhelming anxiety. My secondary school did not give me a lot of support and I felt very stigmatised and was made to be the odd one out.
When I came to Griffith College, I noticed a huge difference in that the lecturers and other students did not dismiss my mental health issues or act as if I was different – rather, they embraced it and shared their own experiences with me. Since then I feel I have become an advocate for those with mental illnesses, and it is my dream to empower people who are not yet in a recovery stage. I feel I am strong enough now to speak out about the issues I have gone through and about how dealing with individuals with mental health issues in the wrong way can be detrimental. I think our health is our wealth and there needs to be more awareness of mental health issues. We need to realise it is absolutely normal and not stigmatise or demonise those who have mental health issues, nor make it a trendy thing to have a mental illness.
Success as a writer
I have had six pieces published with The Irish Times now. Before I came to Griffith, I had very low self-esteem and never had anyone particularly encouraging me. I always felt as though I was an underestimated person and that people did not expect a lot of me. When I got to Griffith, I felt more encouraged and the lecturers made me realise I was talented and that it is okay to recognise this talent in myself.
The first two pieces I got published were shocking and I think that is why they were commissioned and from there I wanted to start being an advocate for mental health as someone who has gone through it for my entire life. I started getting mental illness stories published and since the responses were so great and others suffering told me I was helping them, I decided to keep going. In a way, these responses have been a motivation. Someone I know private messaged me on social media telling me that my articles help her explain her anxiety disorder to her family; she said they finally are starting to understand a day in her life with anxiety, and nothing made me happier than to hear that. Writing articles about mental illness leads to great satisfaction in helping other people.
What’s great about Griffith
I absolutely love Griffith College; there is not one bad word I could possibly say about it. I did not like my secondary school, so I never thought I could love college as much as I do. All my lecturers are the kindest, most approachable, funniest and most knowledgeable people I have ever met, and they encouraged and motivated me to go after my dreams. I get along with my classmates because we all have the same interests, too, which is the best part about college. My lecturers also have given me a lot of support with my mental health which is amazing to have.
The typical day at Griffith College is full of learning and laughter. My classes are all so interesting to me that if I miss a class because I am unwell I get FOMO. I spend the day with my college friends laughing and discussing what we spoke about in our classes.
Griffith College has shaped me into the person I am today: a person with self-belief and confidence I never thought I would be able to find. My time at Griffith has been nothing but happiness, something I had not experienced in a long time before going to college. Griffith instilled in me a love of learning which I am ever grateful for and they have brought me to a standard of professionalism where I feel I can handle anything, which is definitely not what I thought when entering first year. In addition, through my studying at Griffith I have made amazing friends.
Read Bronagh's work in the Irish Times
- How to cope with enhanced anxiety during Covid-19
- ‘No one would guess it, that under all of me I am scared'
- Mental illness is dark. It should never be a fashion statement
- Mental health: I’m tired of being stigmatised
- Why am I expected to have children just because I’m a woman?
- Skinny Shaming: ‘I’m told I’d look better with meat on my arse’