About seven months ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Although this came as a shock, I had known that something had not been right for a while. I had suffered from deep dark depressions for years which were followed by periods where I was unable to sleep for days. Although the diagnosis was scary, it did come as some sort of relief. Finally I had a name for what was wrong with me.
But I doubted the diagnosis, how could I, a normal 26-year-old who experienced a few highs and lows be diagnosed with something ‘crazy’ people had. I thought of all the celebrities who had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, Britney Spears and Kerry Katona were two names that came to mind. But how could my Doctor compare me with two celebrities who had clearly gone off the rails?
Since then I’ve been unable to come to terms with the diagnosis. Until yesterday I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it, mainly because the diagnosis scared me, but also because I didn’t want anyone to think differently of me.
But yesterday I was in a conversation with someone when for some reason I dropped my bombshell. We were talking about life and the obstacles that it throws at us, and suddenly before I knew it I mentioned that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I couldn’t believe that I had divulged such a private detail about myself. Especially something that I was so ashamed about.
But I guess it happened for a reason.
As it turns out my ‘secret’ wasn’t such a bombshell after all. In fact the person I was with was completely understanding, and had experienced their own highs and lows.
I guess the moral of the story is that I was so busy keeping my secret that it was in fact eating me up. Sure, I don’t have to tell everyone that I have Bipolar disorder- as it’s none of their business. But that doesn’t mean that I have to let it burn a hole inside of me either.
I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter if I have ups or downs, that is not what defines me. What matters is that I pick myself up after each fall.
That in itself is liberating.
So last week I had the privilege to speak at the amazing Possibilities Conference organised by Afri, Spunout.ie and Children in Crossfire.
It’s not every day that you get the chance to even be in the same room as the Dalai Lama, Mary Robinson and Richard Moore.
So imagine my delight when I was asked to speak alongside such a panel of inspirational people.
Little oul me from the hills of Donegal!
The day kicked off with wonderful music by Susan Quirke, Majella Murphy and the amazing Kila. The atmosphere in the room was electric with 2,000 people sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for the main man himself His holiness the Dalai Lama.
Silence filled the room as both Richard Moore and the Dalai Lama made their entrance to the room. The relationship between the two was touching to watch with the Dalai Lama clutching onto Richard Moore’s hand never once letting it go.
For those of you who don’t know, Derry man Richard Moore was blinded as a 10-year old child by a plastic bullet shot by a British Soldier. He later met the soldier and forgave him by showing no bitterness or anger towards him. It was because of these actions that the Dalai Lama calls Richard Moore ‘My hero’ for his demonstration of compassion and forgiveness. Continue reading
See Change is working to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland. They are currently running a campaign called Make a Ripple; a campaign to build an online community of ambassadors, advocates, story tellers and volunteers who can help reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems.
The idea is simple – they want people to speak out against stigma by leaving a comment on the Make a Ripple site (coming soon), on their facebook page or through twitter. International evidence says that telling stories and sharing experiences can be one of the most effective ways to change attitudes, tackle stigma and challenge discrimination.
So what can you do?
After the launch, See Change will be inviting everyone to visit the site and make a ripple. Before that though, they want to gather 100 contributions so that the site has lots of stories and pledges when we open it up to the public. They’re asking for your help by signing up as one of their first 100 ambassadors. Its only 100 words or less, and it can be about your own experience of mental health problems and your journey to recovery, a message about how someone else’s experience affected you, or a plea for others to start talking openly and honestly about mental health problems.
The aim is to create a ripple effect that will allow See Change to reach more and more people with the message that we need to be open, honest and accepting about our own and others mental health.
If you’d like to become an ambassador, just drop an email at email@example.com or call a member of the See Change team on (01) 860 1620.
There’s a prison called Anxiety
a place within grey walls
it’s treason walled – piracy —
I think to me it called —
caressed by its deity
on my own inside wall —
humility and all
This is taken from the Tough Times launch a couple of years ago now- but it still grabs my attention every time I watch these guys perform. The lyrics are extremely powerful, and it’s a pity more young people didn’t get a platform to express themselves on youth mental health instead of the suits who talk the same oul shite over and over again.
I’ve been to loads of youth mental health conferences and different events over the years, but I’ll never forget how great these young guys from Ballymun were at highlighting the issue of youth suicide.