Apologies for the radio silence


Marble Hill beach in Dunfanaghy just as the sun was setting


I have really neglected this blog over the past while and I hope to change that going forward. I have been updating the Unwind Your Mind facebook page on a regular basis (You can check it out here) It has over 4,300 likes and has good engagement. But for some reason I’ve had a mental block when it comes down to blogging and updating my posts here.

The good news is that I have been enjoying a relatively good spell with my mental health and continue to work hard on staying well. It’s not easy and the past two years in particular have been extremely difficult but I’m hoping I have put the worst behind me. Continue reading “Apologies for the radio silence”

The real reason I’m taking part in 100 days of walking


I’m currently taking part in the ‘100 days of walking’ challenge spearheaded by Dr Ciara Kelly ( newstalk  presenter and formerly the doctor on Operation Transformation) on Twitter. The idea is that starting on January 1st you take up the challenge to walk every day for the first 100 days of the year. You can stay motivated by following everyone’s progress and by using the hashtag #100daysofwalking

I gave it a half-hearted attempt last year for a few weeks and this year I decided to give it my all and really put in a good effort to take part. For the past year I have been walking most days and have gone from being extremely overweight and unfit, unable to drag myself out of bed, to walking 10km up to five times a week. I have also lost over 4 stone since this time last year. But the real reason I’m walking every day is to banish those negative thoughts in my head and to try to boost my mood. So how did I go from not exercising at all, to hiking every day in the wilds of Donegal? Continue reading “The real reason I’m taking part in 100 days of walking”

‘It will be sunny one day’- Stephen Fry’s inspirational letter to someone struggling with their mental health

sun shining through clouds
One day it will be sunny


*EDIT: Stephen Fry has been in the news in recent months after sharing the sad news that he is fighting Prostate cancer. Fry has been extremely open about his own struggles with Bipolar Disorder and has been a champion in raising much needed awareness on the issue. I wish him a speedy recovery because the world needs legends like him.

Depression is such a lonely illness and it takes a lot of courage for people to reach out to others. But I love hearing of stories when someone does reach out and gets a positive reaction.

Crystal Nunn was going through a deep depression when she found the courage to send Stephen Fry a letter. Fry’s history with manic depression is well documented, but never in a million years did Crystal think that Fry would reply to her letter.

The letter which I’ve transcribed below has a wonderful message and it well worth a read.


April 10, 2006

Dear Crystal,

I’m so sorry to hear that life is getting you down at the moment. Goodness knows, it can be so tough when nothing seems to fit and little seems to be fulfilling. I’m not sure there’s any specific advice I can give that will help bring life back its savour. Although they mean well, it’s sometimes quite galling to be reminded how much people love you when you don’t love yourself that much.

I’ve found that it’s of some help to think of one’s moods and feelings about the world as being similar to weather:
Continue reading “‘It will be sunny one day’- Stephen Fry’s inspirational letter to someone struggling with their mental health”

Our Deepest Fear…

Sorry for the radio silence here over the past few months. I’ve been busy and unable to give the blog the attention it deserves,

The past few years have been challenging for me and I really wasn’t in a great place for a very long time. Thankfully I’m in a much better place now but it’s hard not to be frustrated with where I am in my life. Always looking to the future and trying to second guess the unknown, while also being stuck in the past and looking nervously over my shoulder. But never being in the present and enjoying the here and now.

I’ve been doing a bit of reading recently and the below quote from Marianne Williamson always grabs my attention and I absolutely adore it. We all have greatness inside us and it’s important that we don’t let ourselves be overshadowed by our fear of the unknown. As Williamson says “Our deepest is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

By Marianne Williamson

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

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.

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 might not 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 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”

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.