3 April 2016 at 7pm my life as I know it would change forever and change in a very positive way!
You see on this day I built up enough courage to actually open up and admit to suffering in silence.
With the help of a good friend Ger Walsh who is a talented videographer in Dublin I was able to get my message across in a video about my battle with depression over the last 10-12 years.
What happened next was unprecedented, my post on Facebook received thousands of shares, thousands of comments and likes and a million views in the space of a few days. Shared by media outlets all over the world and led me to speaking on TV3 Ireland AM and RTE Claire Byrne Live. Why me? Why did my story about our struggle go viral? For me it doesn't matter why, its more important that it just did.
This step was both petrifying and amazing at the same time. For me it was about talking about my darkest secret that I have kept bottled up for days, months and years. Only allowing my Mother, Father and Sister inside.
I have decided to start this blog about Mental Health and Our Story to encourage others to do the same as what I did and thats talk to people about this illness and dark space we suffer majority of the time alone.
I don't know how often I will post here to be honest as I'm not sure how interested you will be on this subject but I would encourage others to send me their story and I can post it and we can all share our story.
This wont be a dark place on the internet to read about my struggles it will instead by a place you can read how i'm getting by what tips I have that worked for me and then general blog posts about sport, travel etc... The usual ramblings of mid(late) twenties Irish guy!
My first blog post is to answer some questions I have seen pop up on the internet surrounding the video so thought i'd interview myself....Weird I know!
Why this day? - This has been the most asked question!
I suppose the last few weeks and months i'v been having great sessions with my Doctor Ian Gargan and joined a small group of three lads consisting of myself, Eanna Walsh (Bare Knuckle Bipolar) and Shane Gillen (Anyones Brother) and they have all helped me get to a place where I was confident enough to talk about this openly.
Why make the video?
I wanted to let my friends know, I wanted to let everyone know, all at once. To lift a massive weight off my shoulders. But I also wanted to encourage others to speak up and speak out to family friends colleagues or who ever you can speak too! It was easier for me to share all at once then to sit down and tell everyone individually.
This way I could just do it get it over and done with and everyone I have ever known would know what Iv been through.
What is depression (What is depression for me)?
Depression for everyone is so different but I want people to know it doesn't change the person that's affected. They are still the amazing person you know and love.
Depression isn’t about just being sad or down momentarily because of something going wrong or you had a bad day in work. Its a lot deeper than that!
For me depression is when your sad when everything in your life seems to be going right but you can’t see or feel that.
Depression isn’t breaking an arm, you have an operation and its fixed or chicken pocks something you have once and you will never face it again.
Some people fear spiders, girls not liking them, heights or failing, but I feared life I feared myself.
I forced myself into a dark room, into a corner a corner that only had one way out, and I thought about that way every single day.
This feeling after 10 years becomes normal, you become numb to it, this abnormal feeling becomes so so normal.
But what you fear the most isn’t how you feel, or what your capable of doing, its the stigma that we feel lives inside. Your best friends, Family, Colleagues, its the comments behind your back, the banter between the lads, the stereotype your painted with, that's what we are afraid of. You hold it in and hide it and it forces you into a dark corner. Which makes it so much worse…..
Did you do this for attention? (I have been asked this numerous times)
Absolutely not, As selfish as it may sound I originally did this for me, to help me, to show me that I was surrounded by amazing friends, family and colleagues.
The knock on effects of receiving media attention was something I hadn't really prepared myself for but coming from a marketing background never ruled it out. When asked to appear on National TV or Radio stations I jumped at the opportunity....why? To build awareness to help others and to keep spreading the message that it is ok not to feel ok.
I have heard you are a liar never suffered any mental health issues and you did this so you could get exposure for a new business and earn money? (Again another question which has been asked)
For me I don't even know how to answer this, it couldn't be further from the truth, I contemplated including this question to be honest but I want to be open.
Age 16 I was in with a phycologist in Churchtown, for those of you familiar with this area of Dublin his practice was located up the road from the Bottle Tower Pub towards a Londis/Chinese Takeaway. His name escapes me but I didn't particular like him, he's the first person I broke down in front of described my darkest secrets and he promised me it was all confidential but he then told my parents I was thinking of killing myself. This killed me deep inside, I never wanted them to know. I was planning on just doing it and that would be that.
In hindsight it was the best move he could have made.
From this point on I saw a few other doctors before sticking with Dr McNamara from St John of Gods in Stillorgan. I was prescribed anti depressants and saw him monthly sometimes twice a month. He was located beyond reception take a right then a first left up the stairs first floor and in a room on the left 1028 I think (it was opposite a water fountain and a shredder disposal unit).
Stayed here until I was about 20, and then took a few years off, work was going well and I was able to hide and deal a bit better until I crashed in 2012 after a car crash where I was hit from behind by a driver who was under the influence.
I suffered severe PTSD and my depression came back darker and deeper than ever before, back to St John of Gods to David I went, however he normally only treated young adults and needed to find me another doctor.
I tried a few different people including a lady in Donnybrook but wasn't working for me, I hated it. Id cry before going, cry after leaving and got no benefit from it what so ever.
Then myself and my father came across Dr Ian Gargan and I have been with him for the past two/three years. He has taken me on my next journey a journey I hope will see the light some day soon.
So to those questioning me my story, feel free to contact me or any of my doctors, but to those questioning me...you are the reason we have such an issue in Ireland with Mental Health and Suicide Rates. You are the exact reason we suffer in silence. So I beg you people to close your laptop and not to comment any more as you add nothing to our society.
Regarding the question that I could in any way monetise out of this..... please contact me and I will 100% monetise out of this, and any money I make from your idea I will donate 100% of it to one of the many self funded mental health organisations.
What's your advice for anyone facing mental health stigma?
If your going through some bad spells, and you are feeling dark alone and scared, remember that you can talk that it is ok that things can and will get better over time. Seek professional help, talk to your doctor or family and be brave take courage and open up.
We need to speak up as sufferers we need to shatter this silence, we need to be brave, take courage, help ourselves and help others to accept each other and ourselves. It's the only way we will learn to love ourselves.