Depressed law student blew loan on replica football shirts and showered for up to six hours a day, but is now back on his feet

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By Katie King on

University provides “the perfect conditions for depression to thrive”, says Queen’s University Belfast second year

The Tab
The Tab

Depression is on the rise at UK universities, says a Queen’s University Belfast student who has lived through it himself.

Second year law student Mark Gallagher revealed, in a poignant article published by The Tab, that a depression-fuelled “existential panic” led him to university football try-outs, and then to blow all of his student loan on Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea shirts.

Depression, stress and other mental health problems are a very unfortunate staple of life in the legal profession, and Gallagher believes that university provides the perfect conditions for this to thrive. He said:

The pressure on students to shine academically, attend every big night out and otherwise make the most of the fabled ‘best three years of your life’ has led to numbers of higher education students seeking help with depression to more than double in recent years.

His outlet was to shower for up to six hours a day, and to stock up on equipment for footie practice — which he described as a personal reward for “trying to stay involved in daily life”. The aspiring lawyer continued:

With each week, my room became a veritable kit room filled with Manchester United goalkeeping uniforms, pro-tier football boots and gloves packed with more straps and latex than a fetish workshop… Trying to stop the opposition hitting the back of my net gave me direction where I was otherwise hopelessly lost, I needed to be prepared, right?

Gallagher eventually took some time out from university, and on returning in 2014 he seems to be coping much better with his illness.

The Tab
The Tab

Looking back, he has some advice for his fellow students: retail therapy solves nothing. He explained:

Dropping out to work out what I actually wanted to study and talking out problems did more for me in two weeks than any amount of buying crap achieved… Reckless spending among depressed individuals is well enough documented — it’s not until the Student Loan company drops £1,290 into your lap that you realise how quickly money can be spent.