Asking for help can be hard and it’s important that we acknowledge that

Below is a blog that I posted around this time last year. I feel that a lot of it will still resonate with people. Take a read below.

It was world suicide prevention day recently and you may have read a lot of mental health stories in the media. Stories of people who have reached out for help, and have come through the darkness to the other side.

I know from my work as a mental health advocate that it is so important to reach out for help, and to encourage people to do so. But I’m completely torn, because I also know the realities of reaching out for help and it’s so bloody hard.

The fact is that not everyone who reaches out for help has a good experience. In fact many people may need to reach out time and time again before they receive the help that they so badly need. We always hear of the good stories, someone reaches out for help and with a bit of support for a couple of months they feel better and move on their life. But it’s important that we also know about the ‘not so good’ experiences of reaching out for help.

I’m so glad that people get to experience first hand help from the mental health services, and that they get to move on and live their life. But unfortunately, it’s not my personal experience.

Now, I know how important it is to share stories of people having successful attempts at reaching out. It’s encouraging to hear of the success stories where people have reached out and got the help that they so badly need. We need to share those stories. But we also need to be honest and let people know that sometimes they may not get the help that they need. The truth is that the mental health services are far from perfect, and resources are stretched across the services.

Reaching Out For Help

You may reach out for help, and find that you just don’t get the response that you had hoped. It might be to a friend, family member or even a health professional. Now, unfortunately that’s not ideal, but the truth is that it happens. In fact it happens all the time. I’m pointing this out, because every time I reach out for help and am greeted by a response that just isn’t helpful- I feel like a failure. I feel like I can’t even ask for help right. ( It might sound strange, but when you are in a really negative mindset you believe that everything is your fault.)

What I feel would have helped me was knowing that a fairytale experience is not true for everyone, and that’s perfectly NORMAL!

It doesn’t mean that you are undeserving of help, or that you have done something wrong. It just means that you may have to be clearer in asking for what you need, and spelling things out for people. I think it’s important that people know this. I know in the past I have always been reluctant to talk about the realities of asking for help because I was afraid that it would put people off from seeking help for themselves. But I feel that if we don’t at least let people know the realities of the situation out there, we may in fact be doing more harm than good. People need to know that there isn’t always a fairytale ending, and instead of worrying that it might put people off asking for help, we should instead arm them with the knowledge on how to deal with the situation if this is the case.

Reaching Out When In A Crisis

I’ve made it clear of the realities of asking for help, but there are a few other things I want to say.

First of all, If you are in a crisis, it’s important that you let someone know that. I know how hard it is for me to admit to someone else when I’m in crisis. I feel like I’m afraid to tell them how bad things really are. If they ask me the right questions, that I will try to be as honest as I can, but if they don’t ask the right questions, I probably won’t have the courage to admit to them how bad I feel.

From my own experience, I’ve learned that you have to use your words to describe what is going on for you as best as you can. it’s important that you are completely honest with the person you speak to. This is no time for subtleties. Be blunt if you have to be. Just don’t keep suicidal feelings to yourself.

If you are in crisis, let them know that. If you are thinking about suicide, and more importantly on acting on those thoughts- then you need to very openly and bluntly let someone know. You need to let them know exactly what is going on in your head.

Make an emergency appointment with your GP, or go to your local A+E. ( A+E can be extremely stressful so try and go along with someone who can sit with you as you may have a long wait. Contact a help line like Pieta HouseFreecall 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444, or call Samaritans on 116 123.

If you are already a user of the mental health services, make an urgent appointment with your psychiatrist, Community Psychiatric Nurse, or Counsellor. If you have to do this over the phone and are speaking to a receptionist, be clear as to how important it is that you are given an emergency appointment.

You Deserve To Feel Better

There’s something else that I want you to know. No matter how bad you feel about yourself- you deserve to feel better. I know right now that I feel that things will never improve for me. I feel like every glimmer of hope is gone. But somehow, I am managing to hang on. To be honest I don’t know how, but for now the fact that I am is enough.

I’m engaged with the mental health services and have been for a long time now. Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting my time. I get frustrated, I get angry and most of all I get so upset. I know that the mental health professionals are trying to help me, but there are so many times when I wish they would just all back off and leave me alone. It would have helped me to read about other people in the services who feel the same, and to realise that it is perfectly normal. I’m trying to remind myself of that every day.

Don’t Let Previous Experiences Of Asking For Help Put You Off

Whether your past help-seeking efforts have been positive or negative, don’t let a bad experience stop you from finding someone who can help. Asking for help again after a bad experience is extremely brave. One thing you can do to prepare yourself to make sure you have the best chance of success, is to remind yourself that you deserve help. You deserve to feel better, and no matter what you have to keep fighting for the right support.

My doctor recently told me that “Even problems that seem hopeless have solutions”, and no matter how bad I feel I try to remember this. It might not feel like it right now, but things can get better.

Put your hand on your chest and feel your heart beat. You are alive for a reason. Reach out, you can get through this with some support. But doing it alone is almost impossible. There are loads of people who want to help you get through this, start by letting them help you.

Support Services

Check out www.yourmentalhealth.ie for a directory of metal health services around Ireland.

Pieta House can provide free counselling to people who self harm or who are suicidal . They have 18 centres around Ireland, and provide a free helpline on 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444 www.pieta.ie

Jigsaw provides free counselling to young people aged 16–25 years of age, and have centres around the country. Check out www.jigsaw.ie for more information.

Samaritans are available 24/7 and can provide a free confidential listening service on 116 123. They also provide Text, and email support. www.samaritans.org

Continue reading “Asking for help can be hard and it’s important that we acknowledge that”

Advertisements

Calling for an increased investment in the Irish mental health service

Today the organisation Mental Health Reform released their pre-budget submission for mental health services in Ireland. They are calling for an investment of €105M in this year’s budget which is necessary to provide an adequate mental health service for the people of Ireland.

Currently the government have has already committed to investing €55M for new services in mental health in Budget 2019, but this will not be enough. The Government  needs to address serious gaps in existing service needs and invest in new services in order to make ground on the decades of neglect experienced by Ireland’s mental health services. You can read Mental Health Reform’s full pre-budget statement here.

 

Pre-Budget 2019 Submission Highlights include:

Invest €105M in existing services and new developments

  • Building staff levels to ensure all service users have timely access to mental healthcare
  • Develop 7 days a week, community based, crisis mental health services for children and adolescents
  • Increase capacity in the Counselling in Primary Care service
  • Invest in primary care psychology services
  • Increase the capacity of national advocacy services for children, adolescents and adults in hospital and in the community.

 

People are dying because of a lack of a fully staffed and resourced mental health service. Investment is necessary and it will not happen if all of us do not stand up and demand change.

Mental Health Reform are asking people to support their campaign by sharing information about it on social media using the hashtag #IAmAReason

You can also contact your local TD and call for their support of the pre-budget submission www.whoismytd.com

It’s time that the government delivered on its lack of investment in the mental health service as enough is enough.

 

What wolf do you feed?

Wolves-752x450

In 2010 I came across this old Cherokee story that I try to read as often as possible. It has probably been one of the most useful things I have ever read. I say useful because it has taught me that I have a great degree of control over a lot of negative thinking in my life which I always assumed ‘just happened’. Well, let’s just say that I no longer believe most things in life ‘just happen’.

The story is below…

“An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life “A fight is going on inside me. “It is a terrible fight between two wolves. “One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego. “The other is good- he is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.  “This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old chief simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The moral of the story is that we have a choice over which wolf we decide to feed.

We may not have a choice over certain situations in our life. But we do have control over how we react to things in our life. Continue reading “What wolf do you feed?”

Some pictures from my walks during March

Been walking lots and lots. I try to walk about 12km 5 days a week. Some days I walk more if I know I won’t get out 5 days that week. Other weeks I won’t get out 5 times. But I’m definitely walking at least 55km and upwards each week. I’m much fitter than I was 6 months ago that’s for sure.

I will update the blog soon but for now I’ll leave you with some pictures taken over March.

IMG_7rcng7.jpg
Beach at Ards Friary
20180401_121333.jpg
Tra Mor beach, Dunfanaghy

 

IMG_-q5ch4x.jpg
Spotted on a walk: The question we all ask ourselves 🙂

 

20180319_112237.jpg
Tra Mor beach, Dunfanaghy
IMG_c3htit.jpg
Muckish Mountain

 

20180401_123359.jpg
Tra Mor beach with Muckish in the background

One thing to remember when everything seems overwhelming (Useful for every situation and much easier than you think)

Screen Shot 2018-02-16 at 9.50.05 PM.png

Things have been very difficult over the past few months, and even for the past few years. Sometimes it feels like I’m wading through mud and no-one even knows it, but also that there’s always mud and it feels like it’s never ending. It feels like progress recently is never a step forward but just to the side. I have the above picture saved on my phone and I read it again this evening and It made me feel a tiny bit less overwhelmed.

So if you are feeling the same I suggest you save the above picture or print it off. It’s a quote by the writer Ijeoma Umebinyuo. Forget about all the stuff you feel you need to do or change about your life. Sometimes life feels like so overwhelming that it just paralyzes you. But if you just start small and just start where you are and realise that it’s okay to be terrified, okay to be feeling hurt and pain, it’s even okay for your hands literally to be shaking. It’s all okay. But the best thing you can do to is to start. Start small. Start where you are and with what you have.

It won’t be easy and sometimes we need to go through the shit to get through to the other side. There’s this real assumption that going through the shit and doing things like counselling and therapy is really enlightening and empowering. It can be and that really is the goal but often there’s a lot of hurt, pain, and immense sadness before you even get anywhere near all that. The problem is when the shit seem to last ages and there seems no end in sight and you’re just exhausted by it all. Continue reading “One thing to remember when everything seems overwhelming (Useful for every situation and much easier than you think)”

‘I thought there was no way out. Creativity saved my life’- Inspirational speech by actor and activist John Connors

John Connors IFTA18
John Connors accepting his speech at the IFTAs 2018

“This is a huge moment for me. Seven and a half years ago I was sitting in my house in Darndale in a little box room in the darkness contemplating suicide. That’s no mess. I thought there was no way out. My brother Joe reached out to me and we spoke for hours and he said I needed something. Something to latch onto. Something where I could put this energy into. he suggested acting. I dunno why but it was just a lightbulb moment. I remembered coming out of my first class… and it was like I was walking on a cloud.

I just discovered something. This world I never knew existed called creativity. It saved my life, it really did…… Creativity can be a component to heal people.”

I’m a huge fan of John Connors. I have heard him speak out over the years about his background, his community and give voice to many people who feel disenfranchised by Irish politics and the fragmentation that exists in society today. I think he is a great role model for loads of people. He is trying to break out against all the stereotypes that society is putting on him.

He is extremely proud of his traveller background and of course he should be, but society tells him that he shouldn’t be and that being a traveller is something to be ashamed of. In his IFTA acceptance speech for ‘Best Actor’ for ‘Cardboard Gangsters’ he talks about the fact that he can’t get an agent or a casting director to look past the fact that he is a traveller.

Forget all his activism. He is also a great actor. I loved him in Cardboard Gangsters and he thoroughly deserved his award. I saw the film in the cinema and it was one of my favourite Irish films in recent years.

He also talks about seven years previously when he was sitting in a box room in his house in Darndale contemplating suicide. His credits his brother with reaching out to him and suggesting he try acting as an outlet. Suicide is an huge problem in Ireland, but in the traveling community it is an even bigger problem.

He describes finding acting and a way to release his creativity as being a ‘lightbulb moment’ and credits creativity with saving his life. He believes “Creativity can be a component to heal people.” and I believe he is 100% right. Continue reading “‘I thought there was no way out. Creativity saved my life’- Inspirational speech by actor and activist John Connors”