My sister recently completed an honours degree after 5 years (1 repeat). It was a difficult slog for her as she battled with mental health issues throughout the last 2 years of the course. They were triggered by the deaths of two people close to us in quick succession.
With the help of counselling sessions, family members and medication she managed to get her degree and once the pressure of the last year of college was over her mental health improved significantly and she was back to her usual self.
She felt ready to begin her masters and has enrolled for the coming year.
Concerned about her mental health deteriorating again once the course starts she went to our local GP to get the contraceptive pill as it helps keep her hormones/emotions/mood in check.
And this is why I’m contacting you – the GP refused to give her the contraceptive pill because it’s “against her beliefs”. Just flat out refused. Needless to say my sister left the surgery a little embarrassed and upset.
Surely in 2017 this cannot be acceptable from a GP? Or is it? From my sister’s point of view she didn’t seek the pill as a lifestyle choice – she was seeking it for her mental health. And it is a difficult subject for her to discuss.
I’d like to point out that the GP’s practice is in a city and would be quite busy. My sister used to get her pill from the doctor near her college so this was her first (and last) time asking our family doctor for it!
Warriors of The Light is an evening of music, poetry and storytelling organised by Dublin GAA star Kevin McManamon and his best friend Mark Swaine.
The event is a forum where people share stories about mental health, and their tools for maintaining wellbeing.
All proceeds from the gig will go to SOAR, an organisation which runs wellness programmes for young people.
The inaugural event in May included performances from Danny O’Reilly (The Coronas), Róisín Ó, Cry Monster Cry and Stephen James Smith, and this Friday, more of the country’s finest talent will take to the stage. All will be revealed on the night!
Warriors Of The Light takes place in Café Blás (The Chocolate Factory), 26 King’s Inns St, Dublin 1 on Friday, December 9, with doors opening at 7pm and the show starting at 7.30pm. Tickets can be purchased at link below. Thank you.
“You know, Claire, it’s not too long ago, where I was, my life, I was convinced, the only way out of the immense emotional pain and suffering I was in, was to take my own life.
I came very close, moments away from it, but thankfully, through various supports, and was able to recover my wellbeing in a sense, and my health. But the situation, for a lot of families around the country, the reality is, around Christmas time, there’ll be a lot of empty chairs at tables, and unnecessarily so.
It doesn’t have to be that way. People don’t want to end their lives, they want to end the pain they’re in. Let’s implement the 24/7 specialist support services, as was said would be done in the Vision for Change, let’s end the omnipresent stigma that still engulfs this very common aspect of the human experience, and prevents so many people from coming forward and getting support.
Let’s create a pioneering education system that nourishes the most important knowledge of all: the knowledge of self, and the relationship with self. Let’s realise that the passing of the Marriage Referendum wasn’t a panacea for all the distress that many LGBT* people experience when coming to terms with their sexuality, and the massive levels of suicide among that group of people, is very concerning.
Finally, let’s finally, put the emotional health and well-being of our people on a par with physical health, in our health service, and in the hearts and minds of our politicians.
As sure as there’s a path into emotional distress and crisis, there’s a way through it and out the other side. And we all need to realise, Claire, that we can all be the lanterns that light that way for others, to support people on their journey back to wellness. Because the wonderful thing as human beings, is that we possess these endless reservoirs of compassion, of kindness, and care.
We can change the story, and the carnage, of suicide on the island of Ireland. We have to change it, and we all share responsibility to ensure that this happens right now.
Hurling veteran and mental health advocate Conor Cusack last night, speaking on RTÉ One’s Claire Byrne Live.
She has clinical depression and borderline personality disorder.
I had an article published here a few weeks back, in which I expressed my frustration at what I perceive to be the very sanitised view the general media presents to us about mental health.
Following on from this, I wrote a similar article for the Irish Times, stating:
“My concern is that the current media representation of these (mental health) issues is in danger of doing the subject more harm than good by having a really restricted focus in terms of how mental health problems manifest, who they affect, and how they are managed.”
Immediately after the articles I was contacted to do both TV and radio interviews which, after much consideration, I had to decline.
I knew that while I would get great energy from doing them, and it would possibly help take the national conversation about mental health a little further, it would also knock the stuffing out of me and the fallout for me personally wouldn’t be worth the whatever slim gain may have been made.
I realise there’s a massive irony in this – I gave out that media representations of mental health issues are very one sided, yet when given the opportunity to do something about it, I had to say no or my mental health would suffer.
On a whim, I recorded the video above.
I cannot currently give live interviews, and there’s little I can do to affect change around mental health policy in Ireland.
But, I’ve been writing about trying to manage borderline personality disorder (bpd) and depression for years, so what I can do is attempt to show you the reality behind the words.
None of these vlogs are scripted, rehearsed or edited in any way. They’re mostly recorded in my car because it feels like a really safe place to do them, if a little dull visually, and are short – generally between one and three minutes.
I tend to think a lot when I’m driving, and it helps to record my thoughts this way on a day that I may not get time to write.
What you see is how I am – I don’t usually wear make-up, and I often look extremely tired and/or spotty.
This is my reality.
I’ve never sugarcoated my writing so I’m not going to sugarcoat these.
Fiona is an Ambassador for See Change, a national movement that tries to improve attitudes towards people with mental health issues, and she blogs here
Following student protests on Govt diversion of €12,000,000 from 2016 mental health budget, 200 UCD Medicine students have made the following video to lobby for increased funding Ireland’s mental health services.
UCD students have raised over €100,000 for registered charity Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland so far this year. It took them 6 months to raise the money and there is a lot of anger on campus over how few TDs it takes to debate funding cuts of €12,000,000.
Ireland has one of the highest rates of youth suicide in Europe but depends largely on charities for a response rather than government policy. It is a disgraceful situation that the good work of UCD students to support one of these charities, Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland, is being completely undermined by huge Govt funding cuts.
Niall Breslin, aka Bressie, before the Joint Committee on Health and Children in January
Fiona Kennedy, who has clinical depression and borderline personality disorder, yesterday wrote the following on the Facebook page of her Sunny Spells & Scattered Showers blog:
I AM SICK OF HEARING ABOUT BRESSIE AND JIM BREEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They aren’t actually the only people in the entire country who understand mental health issues. Also, as an aside, depression isn’t the only mental health issue that affects people, and it’s not just young people who experience difficulties either. Despite what the media may think.
There. I said it.
(I’ve had a very long day, I’m very tired and my patience threshold is below zero)
Later, Fiona wrote:
That was an hour ago. I’m even more tired now, but having driven in and out of town to collect Hubby, I’m also wired, and I’ve had time to think.
On reflection, there is a whole lot more going on than simply being pissed off at two people who are doing one of the most crucial thing that needs doing to get the ball rolling on changing our mental health services – talking. Raising awareness. Letting people know that asking for help is ok.
But that’s where I hit a pitfall, and I think that’s at least part of where my frustration is coming from. It’s not what Bressie and Jim Breen are doing that’s the issue, it’s the media portrayal of it.
Both of them are talking about what they know, and they are both authentic, articulate, inspiring speakers. But what they know is a small piece of the puzzle.
The media (and this is all very much just my own opinion) can’t or won’t see beyond that. Mental illness isn’t just depression and suicide, in as much as physical illness isn’t just cancer. There are such a broad range of issues, and within that range, hugely varying degrees of severity and need. Every single person is different.
We could also be forgiven for thinking that difficulties only arise with the under 25s. Again, I’m not discounting the value of the work that’s being done here, god knows if I’d had more awareness when I was younger then things might have turned out very differently for me.
We absolutely need to get to kids when they’re in school, we absolutely need to work on breaking down the stigma around mental illness. I would love to think that this whole palaver with our mental health services is something my kids will never have to contend with.
But what about those who are over 25? Or even over 18? I posted a piece last week by a 17-year-old reader who faces a very uncertain future once she turns 18 and transitions from child and adolescent to adult services.
What about those of us who are that bit older, who aren’t hearing the message in school or college? Or those who don’t have ready access to social media? What about workplace mental health? Or those who aren’t working? And what about our older generations? Who is the voice for them?
I think that’s what my issue is. Both these men are giving voice to a particular section of the population, and they are doing it quite remarkably well. But, (and again, just me!!) there are two key issues with this:
This is a very sanitized version of mental illness,
There’s a glaring gap when it comes to the rest of us.
One of my readers posted this comment in response to my little rant, I think he sums it up nicely:
‘Thanks for saying this, Fiona. We are doing a mental health awareness programme at work and it is just about depression. Yes depression is a terrible thing but so are BPD, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenia, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, and every other mental illness. Surely we wouldn’t talk in terms of physical illness as being cancer? So why treat mental illness differently?’
‘As for celebs being the spokesperson for mental health, fine. But I would rather have as my spokesperson the woman who sat in the psychiatrist’s waiting room the other day; who had to bring her young child to the appointment because she couldn’t afford childcare; who told me how she had no idea how she was going to pay the electricity bill, let alone find money to do the grocery shopping; who was trying her hardest but who looked as if life had finally beaten her. This is the real face of mental illness’
Maybe it’s even more than that. Is it how we talk about it? The fact that we talk about ‘mental illness’. We would never say ‘I have a physical illness’. We’d say ‘I have the flu’. We’re making huge inroads in talking about it, but we’re still dancing around the edges.
I don’t know, I don’t know where I’m going at this stage. I’m tired, and I’m hugely frustrated by everything that’s happened with our mental health services on a national level, particularly in the last week, and on a personal level, for the last……….well, long time.
I just want to see open, honest, real conversation about this. About depression. About bipolar. About borderline. About schizophrenia. About all the other countless illnesses that affect us.