INTERVIEW

"It's nice to be back here now when I am in a better mental space"

Former DkIT student and YouTube sensation Melanie Murphy returns to give talk at college

Aine Kenny

Reporter:

Aine Kenny

Email:

ainekenny96@gmail.com

"It's nice to be back here now when I am in a better mental space"

YouTube star Melanie Murphy was in Dundalk last week.

Melanie Murphy, an Irish YouTube sensation and former DkIT student, gave a talk on resilience as part of DkIT’s Fit4Life campaign last week which aims to improve student’s physical and mental health.

The talk was organised by Gertie Raftery, a student counsellor in the college, who is a friend of Melanie’s father. Melanie has over half a million subscribers to her YouTube channel, where she vlogs about lifestyle, mental health, relationships, and beauty.

Melanie began the talk by introducing herself. “I live in North Co. Dublin with my Dad, I wrote a non-fiction book last year and I make YouTube videos for a living,” she says with a smile while sitting down at the edge of the stage, swinging her legs. A shiny silver Mac laptop rested beside her. There were many fans in the crowd who already knew everything about her life, because Melanie’s YouTube channel is characterised by her openness and honesty.

“It’s weird being back here because I actually used to be a student here,” Melanie reveals. “Straight after secondary school, I started a computer programming course in DkIT… but I hated it, it wasn’t for me I was one of the only girls in the class, and I dropped out after two or three months,” she admits. “It is nice to be back here now when I am in better mental space.”

Melanie says that resilience is extremely important when it comes to mental health. “Resilience is the capacity to adapt to negative change,” she says. “We can get through anything, no matter how awful or impossible it seems… resilience is not a trait,” she is quick to add. “People might think ‘oh I am just not resilient’ but you can build up your resilience through trauma and developing a positive attitude.”

The YouTuber says that if she can become resilient, anyone can. “Alcoholism ran in one side of my family, when I was six my parents broke up, I was always moving house, when I was 16 my Gran died, who I was very close to… then the worst four years of my life began,” she says emphatically.

“Even when I talk about it now I feel a sort of panic, but I know it is okay and that I have moved past it,” she says steadily, clasping her hands together. “I was in a toxic relationship, I put on 4 stone weight, I had a miscarriage, I didn’t have a large support network… and everything just seemed negative,” she says candidly.

“However, by building up my resilience, I got out of that bad place. I built up my confidence in public speaking by Youtube, and I know it isn’t really public speaking but it definitely helped me,” the online sensation reveals. “I also went to Dublin City University and got a teaching degree.”

During her time in DCU, Melanie studied positive psychology, which she says really helped her change her thinking and perceptions of negative events.

“Our lives are made up of imperfect moments in an imperfect world… and we all need to learn how to bounce back, and to not wallow.”

The 28-year-old went on to advise the crowd not to focus on their mistakes, and to choose to make the positive change in their life. “Your beliefs affect your feelings, which affects your responses,” she explains.

"You have to believe you can get through tragic events, which other people survive every day, therefore so can you…. we just need the tools to cope with negative change.”

Melanie also warned against the negative impacts of social media. “Everything you see online is a construction… people have been filtered beyond belief and no one is going to take a picture of themselves on a bad day,” she claims.

“Sure I am hardly going to vlog on when I am in my PJs lying on the floor drooling,” she laughs, with the crowd following suit. “Everything looks nicer on the internet… it is all a construction.” Melanie herself has broken down this construction by baring her make-up free face for all to see way back in 2014. Her acne showed other people that skin is rarely perfect, and people were drawn to this honesty.

Melanie concluded her talk with detailing some simple things you can do to build up your resilience.

She tells the assembled crowd to stop over-analysing everything, get enough sleep and exercise, and to build up a support network of friends and family. She also advises managing your stress by planning things in advance, putting things into perspective (‘no one will die if you don’t get that essay done’ she quipped) and to take time to relax.

She also adds that becoming aware of your thought processes can be very helpful. “Be mindful of your self-talk. If you’re looking in the mirror and are speaking negatively about yourself, cut that out,” she exclaims.

It is no wonder the 28-year-old Dub has such a large online following, she is like a big sister to her viewers, always ready to advise from a place of compassion and experience.