30.6.15

A letter to my mum


Mum,

We are fast approaching your 10 year anniversary. Can you believe that? I still remember the day you left us like it was yesterday and as hard as it is not to have you here with us now I am glad you have had your pain and suffering taken away.

I often find myself questioning things, like why you got cancer, why you died, why we couldn’t just have a bit more time with you and I always come up with the same answer every time and that answer is that everything happens for a reason. Everything happens for a reason yet I’m still struggling to find the reason for you dying, why I was left without a mother at the tender age of 10 when I needed you the most. Everything happens for a reason but what could possibly justify a 10 year old having to watch her mother die?

I know it’s not your fault that you died and it certainly wasn’t your fault that you got cancer but when you died I couldn’t help but be angry at you. I couldn’t understand why you would leave me, why you couldn’t just fight for a bit longer but in truth I had lost you before you even died. In the weeks up to your death it was clear you weren’t the caring, kind, loving, unique mother you once were. What you had become was a frail, pain stricken women who needed her suffering to end. I see that now and I understand that now, my anger towards you is gone and I can only hope for your forgiveness for having so much anger and resentment towards you for dying.

I’m not entirely sure what my stance is on religion and to be honest it’s not something I have thought much about but I know you once had a special place in your heart for religion and I can only hope you have made it to heaven. I like to think that you’re somewhere right now with your mum and dad, hopefully looking down on me. I really do hope I have made you proud over the years despite all the pain and suffering I have caused the rest of the family.

There are nights where I lie awake crying because I miss you so much, wishing for just one more day, one more cuddle, one more conversation and a chance to see your smile just one more time. It hurts knowing that I will never see you again, never get to hold your hand again. It hurts knowing you won’t be there on my wedding day, knowing you won’t meet your grandchildren and most of all it hurts knowing that I will never get to hug you and feel 100% secure like I once used to.

You were my rock and you are my idol. I can only hope I will become half the women you once were. Still today I meet people who knew you and it brightens my day when I meet these people because I know that you have left an imprint on more than just your family and that you will never be forgotten!

There is not a day that goes by where I don’t think about you, where I don’t miss you and where I don’t wonder why you had to be taken away from us. Every day I look in the mirror and try and find similarities between our faces hoping I can be as beautiful as you. Not a day goes by where I don’t question if I am making your proud and if I am becoming the young women you once hoped I would be. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of your smile and feel your love rush through me and not a day goes by without me wish for my mother back!

10 years is a long time and soon we will be officially marking the 10 years since you have passed. It has been a hard 10 years and even now I am still trying to comprehend that it has actually been 10 years. Its hard to accept that you are gone, that you have missed half of my life but I know you are still with me, somewhere and always you are with me. I hope I have made you proud and I hope to make you proud in the future. You were truly a one in a million mother and nothing will ever change your uniqueness.

I love you to the moon and back,

Love Siobhán xxx

26.6.15

Display or Disguise?

As someone who used to engage in self-harming behaviour I am now left with marks all over my body, marks which will remain on my body for the rest of my life. These marks were once something which I looked forward to seeing, something which I felt I needed in order to get through the day and something which I wanted but now, now this is not the case and these marks are for life.

I try very hard not to let my past define but it is hard, how can I not let it define me when the pain and suffering which I experienced is written all over my body in the form of scars? Lines from my knees to my hips, from my stomach to my chest and from my wrists to my shoulders. Lines which symbolise a time in my life where I experienced nothing but pain, I struggled to see the good in each day and a time when I was ready to take my own life in the hope of finding some peace and removing myself as a burden to my family.

These lines aren’t just any lines, it’s clear they are scars and it is clear that they are scars from self-harming, I can’t hide that fact, it is obvious what they are! But I’m letting them control me, I am letting my past keep me from moving on. For fear of being judged and ridiculed I hide my scars as much as possible but I can’t hide them for the rest of my life. Yeah from time to time I will wear a t-shirt without long sleeves, when I’m competing in athletics I will wear my singlet without sleeves and if I am too warm I may roll up my sleeves or take off my jumper but then things get awkward. Then people begin to stare and it is clear what they are staring at. I try hard not to let it get to me but it is hard, very hard. What’s even harder than dealing with judging me and staring at me is knowing when it is ok to not cover my scars.  I question wheatear its ok for children to see my scars, it is ok for me to expose young people to self-harm so early in life, even if they are not aware of what the scars are from?  And is it ok that I am lying to them when they ask what they are should they see them? 

When I volunteer with an organisation and even in my job I am usually open and honest about my previous self-harming behaviour and two out of the three organisations I volunteer with have told me not to tell anybody who asks that it was self-harm. Is this right? I know that really young children will not understand self-harm and for my own benefit more than theirs I usually make up a story nut for older children, for young people, for people who know what it’s from should I really avoid using the term self-harm? Should I make up a story? It’s like I’m being forced to be ashamed of my past, like it’s something to be hidden and if I continue to hide it am I not feeding into the stigma surrounding mental health? And it’s more than just being ashamed or feeding into the stigma it’s the lying about what my scars are from. I spent most of my teenage years hiding my scars and cuts and lying about my self-harm and I don’t want to go back to those old habits and again it goes beyond that, it’s the trust I have built up with young people and to lie straight to their face, what kind of youth worker does that make me?

I still have a long way to go in fully accepting my scars but being told not to admit to what has caused my scars limits me that bit more from accepting them. I understand the damaging effects a person seeing scars like mine can have should they be experiencing self-harm but when I look at myself, when I move beyond all my scars and really look deep down I see what I have accomplished, how far I’ve come and I see that I didn’t let my mental illness and self-harming destroy my life completely and I see that I gained back control. Sometimes I feel if a young person can see I came out the other side then it’s worth not covering my scars, even if it only gives them a glimpse of hope that things can and really do get better.

13.3.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.




Interview No. 7







What’s your name? 
Gabhain O'D
What age are you?
23
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Cork
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
All Irish males drink waay too much even though I don't drink. As a person with mental health issues, the stereotypes that exist are that I am untrustworthy, that I am liable to be unpredictable and that I self harm for the attention.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
Beyond the stereotype, I am a caring, easy going 23 year old, Yes I have my ups and downs, but we all do. I am a hard working and outspoken person.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy running, reading, meditation and cupa of tea.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I am planning on becoming a counsellor, so that I can use my own experiences to help out those who need it most.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
Stereotypes are an unnesecary, and cruel thing.

6.3.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.


Interview No. 6







What’s your name? 
Melody B
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Dublin
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 

I've been stereotyped into many categories, I've been 'emo' a 'rocker' and especially a 'fangirl' at one point but then biggest one is that 'big bubbly girl'.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
Most girls and boys whom are happy with who they are and have a giddy sense of humour know what it's like to be the 'big bubbly person of the group' it's just something that happens. I've been put into many stereotypes but that was probably my main one. Though the bubbly personality has nothing to do weight or height I am bubbly at heart, and happy, I believe in positivity and karma, I'm not very religious any more, which is just something I accept. I'm very caring, I'd do anything for my friends and family. I'm very stubborn at times and moody though, I am only 20 and still trying to find who I am, but I think I'm a good person at heart, I believe I am, and even when I have my moments and mess up I do try and fix it.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy writing and singing (even if I'm not the best singer in the world) playing video games with my friends. I also love helping people with problems! I also love blogging, and playing around with make up, going shopping even if it's just window shopping and just chilling with my friends and watching movies, the typical things.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
In college I'm currently studying media/journalism and I'm nearly finished, I don't want to do the typical journalism thing, I don't really know what I want to do with this degree, somehow I hoped it could go into psychology. I really want to help in some way with mental health issues and helping people. Since I love it! I've done numerous things to help raise money for charity but I really want a job which will help people in some way. I've always thought in the back of my mind midwifery or mental healthy nurse but I've never had the courage to pursue that. I suppose I'm just on a journey trying to find myself. I am only 20, but I don't want people and their stereotypes and negative ways of thinking to effect my ways of thinking or finding myself!
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I would like to say to society as a whole, and I'm talking to myself when I say this too, as I am part of it. We all need to chill out, that's a loose term. But we spend more time online and judging people then we think. I am a good person, and I believe I help my family and friends and most of society are good people, but there is always that part of us that will judge no matter what, even if it's an outfit a celebrity wore, or someone you don't necessarily have a good relationship doing something silly, that may make them happy but we let out negative thoughts suppress our humanity sometimes. I think it takes time and effort as an individual to stop and thinking before we say things. Maybe in the future stereotypes and judging will have died down, but I don't think it will happen any time soon. I've vowed to myself to think before I speak and work on myself and what I say and do and I think if everyone did the same it will pass on and on and eventually maybe the world won't be such a negative place! I believe in negative moments, not negative people. So I think society has its negative moments but it also has it's good moments, like people coming together and helping out in poor countries, or when a world event happens that destroys homes and society does do a really good job most of the time, it just has it's negative moments and I don't think that will go completely, at all, but it may tone down in the future!

27.2.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.




Interview No. 5





What’s your name? 
Aine L
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Galway
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
The only stereotype I can really think of is nights where I don't drink. I don't usually drink and I feel that because of that people presume you're quite 'innocent' or harmless and that you're not really into fun wild things.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
My friends and family would describe me as extremely outgoing and bubbly- have often said that even when I do drink it's nearly pointless because my personality doesn't change- unlike most peoples.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I love typical young person things ie hanging with friends, watching movies, listening to music - I really enjoy trying new things too.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I've done lots of charity work in the past, the most recent thing being helping kids read and do their homework in a disadvantaged school, I hope to contribute by doing more things like that and to some day become a kids presenter.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I think there are a lot of stereotypes surrounding young people and drink that give everyone a bad name.

20.2.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.



Interview No. 4



What’s your name? 
Shaw H
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Summerhill, Co.Meath
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
Lazy, violent, intimidating, reckless, alcoholics.
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
Kind, fun, sarcastic, loving, harmless.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my family friends and girlfriend, I love playing with my dogs and listening to music at night.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I'm currently doing a degree in engineering which will allow me to create greener surroundings and easier living environments for society.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
Stereotypes will always exist, they're harsh but they haven't come from nowhere, people see young people on the news doing stupid and reckless things like crashing cars and killing their passengers, random acts of violence and drugs. People always see the worst in our generation, this is what the news will show, we are rarely shown in a brighter light, the news and social media will highlight our weaknesses, but rarely our strengths. So in my opinion we have to live with these stereotypes, but they don't define or mold us as people, we choose our own paths so why care how other people see you.

16.2.15

Admitting defeat or claiming victory?

This past week has been rough. I’m not going to lie it has been a week full of  stress, anger, fear, frustration sadness and buckets of tears. These feelings however have not come completely out of the blue exactly but something has triggered them, something which for a while I have shoved under the carpet and choose not to deal with. I had many reasons for choosing not to deal with this issues and despite knowing that its not good to hold it all inside I continued to keep it contained until it came back to mind. I chose to bury it and that is what I did for years and right now while I am writing this I am regretting my decision not to address that issue. While this  issue is not something I feel comfortable talking about on my blog at this early stage I will go so far as to say it is related to my feelings towards my own self-harming behaviour.

Despite realizing that theses feelings have come from somewhere I am not 100% certain that they have all come from that same place. Part of me sees the normal aspect of my low mood over the past week, part of me recognises that everybody has bad days and I too am having a few bad days. But having spent the past seven days struggling to get myself to college, struggling to get myself through an hour of coaching and an hour of scouts and struggling even to get myself out of the bed I am beginning to fear that these bad days are something more.

Am I being unreasonable?  Is my fear unjustified? I don’t think so, looking back over my history I believe I have every right to be fearful that this bad week may turn into something more. I fear that this bad week may go from one week to two and two weeks to three weeks and eventually I will be stuck, unable to recognise that there is a problem, unable to cope without self-harm and eventually unable to keep myself safe in my own environment.

Seven months ago I made a decision in conjunction with my GP to come of my anti-depressant medication and at the time it appeared to be a good decision and to finally not have to take medication was a huge achievement for me after spending 3 years on them. But the past few months haven't been easy not because of not being on medication but because of being in therapy, having further set backs with my jaw surgery, having a difficult time during my college placement and also with my self-harming becoming more frequent at times. Ive been thinking about going back on the medication as it helped when I was on it and when I was on it for most of the time I felt good and I felt in control and lately I haven't been feeling in control of my life especially this past week.

Waking up this morning I had planned to go and see my GP to discuss some things with him, discuss the possibility of going back on medication. This isn't a decision I have made lightly not by any stretch of the imagination. I have spoke to many people about this including my dad and considering my low mood over the past week they feel it may be for the best and so too did the doctor. Ive lost sleep over this, I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life(there is no guarantee that I will be) I don’t want to be dependant on medication to keep my mood up and I certainly don’t want the added pressure that comes with being on medication but looking back over the past I have realised that me going back on medication is not admitting defeat but claiming a victory. 3 years ago when I was at my lowest, self-harming multiple times a day, considering suicide and eventually spending four months in hospital I wasn’t able to see that I had a problem, I wasn’t able to recognise self harm as a bad thing and I wasn’t in a position to take control of my life but now, now I am, now I am able to recognise all those things, I am able to say that I think medication is a good thing and right now while I feel like things are spiralling out of control, I still have control and  I want to keep that control for as long as possible. If accepting I need to be on medication to keep my bad days to a minimum, to keep my mood up and to help ensure my self- harming does not reach dangerous levels once again I am going to accept it and claim a victory over Borderline Personality Disorder, depression and self-harm!



13.2.15

Young People in Ireland: What's behind the stereotype?

As a  youth worker (currently a volunteer youth worker) it is important to ensure young people are given the chance to be heard. It is important that negative stereotypes associated with young people are challenged and that young people are given the chance to have their say regarding these stereotypes, what they think about the stereotypes if any that have been imposed on them and how they themselves challenge these stereotypes and their overall opinions regarding stereotypes.


Interview No. 3

What’s your name? 
Ashling N
What age are you?
20
Where do you live/ where are you based?
Celbridge
What stereotypes has Irish society put on you as a young person today? 
There's is the stereotype that young adults are reckless especially with alcohol and making decisions which I'm sure many people have believed about me. 
Looking beyond that stereotype who are you? (How would your friends, family, and yourself describe you?) 
I would describe myself as a quirky unusual person but I'm sure people have used the words strange and troublesome to describe me. I like to dance on public streets even if people look at me funny. I'm pretty confident in the person that I am right now and I'm happy with the realisation that I'm still changing and developing as a person. I like to draw but I don't like people seeing the drawings.
What kind of things do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy swimming because it clears my mind and I feel exercised.
How do you contribute to Irish society? (Any small thing, what do you hope to do in the future e.g. college courses which will allow you to contribute to Society). 
I believe I have contributed greatly to society through the many volunteer organisations that I've participated in over the years( St. Vincent De Paul, North Star Swimming Club). I'm studying to be a social worker in college at the moment, which means I'm going to have a huge influence on society when I start to work. I can't wait and I hope I can make a difference even just to a few.
What would you like to say about stereotypes imposed on young people in Ireland?
I think stereotypes definitely exist in society, and sometimes while growing up young teens need stereotypes to feel like they "fit in" but I think most people grow out of these stereotypes and start on the search to find their true selves.