Inner conflict

This week saw the beginning of my college classes. As part of these class we have been working closely on bonding and getting to know each other in order to progress well throughout the next three years together. To allow us to get to know each other better and have a better understanding into each others life we were asked to prepare a life map and then make a presentation to our class regarding our life.

I struggled with this assignment. I wasn't sure what I was going to share with my class. The fear of being judged, looked down on and treated like an outcast was at the forefront of my mind over the weekend in which I was preparing my presentation. I have decided to go into college and not tell people about my past, not because I am ashamed but because I wanted people to get to know me for who I am today but my past has made me the person who I am today. I fought with my mind the night before giving my presentation, my mind had all power and was controlling me. It was my mind which was telling me not to share my story, to hide who I am and to not tell people who I really am, I am not a depressed person or a self-harmer but my depression, self-harm and life experiences have lead me to be the person I am today. While my mind was very much in control of me the night before my presentation somewhere deep inside me there was something trying to fight my mind, there was something trying to tell me to do what I knew was right. After much consideration my heart finally took control over my mind and told me the right thing to do was to tell people my past experiences as they have allowed me to become the person I am today.

I chose to tell my class about my mental illness and my time in hospital after suffering from self- harm etc. I chose to tell them about my parents being separated, the death of my mother and the death of my grandfather. I chose to tell my class all of these things because it is these things which have made me want to become a community worker and youth worker, It is my past that has helped to shape the path which I am talking at this very moment. my past doesn't define me but it has helped me to choose what I believe to be the correct path in life at the moment.

Despite my fear I told my story and people listened and people didn't look down on me or treat me different after sharing my story. I was scared I wouldn't be accepted by the class due to my past but I was wrong, extremely wrong and I feel bad in a way. I feel bad that I thought the people on my course would judge me like that and would not accept me.

To tell my life story I chose to use an image of a flower to represent my life. I chose this because flowers regrow. Each petal represented a milestone in my life and they all came together to create a flower which symbolises who I am today. I know that petals fall off but they grow back, I will have my down days but I will get back up. It took time to make my presentation but it meant a lot to me, to me a flower represents growth and throughout my life I have grown despite my bad experiences, each thing which I have experienced helped me grow. So while now I am currently a full flower there is always going to be a time when a petal or two will fall off and I will have to work to learn from those experiences to grow again.

The point I am trying to make in this post is to follow your heart because you will be surprised at the way people may react to what you have to say. I thought people would react in a negative way when I told them about my experience  but they reacted in a positive way, took it in their stride and didn't judge me.

Photo of the day. :)

Myself and Ray D'arcy earlier in the year :)

Park(ing) day

Bails of hay, real grass, some bunting and a picket fence on the side of the road in Dublin city centre, a site you couldn't miss, well unless you were me and walked right passed it without even noticing but I realised where I was meant to be when I saw some hay in the middle of the street!

Today I attended park(ing) day in Dublin city centre to help hand out FREE stickers with the guys from See Change to encourage people to talk about mental health to break the stigma of metal health. If your like me you might not have a notion of what park(ing) day is because up until a couple of weeks ago I didn't know either.

"PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.
The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!"
I think this is a great idea to be honest, especially that it gives organisations such as See Change the chance to share the work that they do and promote positive messages. I spent a few hours walking up to people and offering them these FREE stickers.  People I approached were shocked when I told them they were free, not everything needs payment!! I was surprised that so many people were also willing to wear the stickers, for every sticker that was given out a small ripple would have been made. If at least one or two people saw a sticker on their friend it may have began a conversation about mental health, it could have encourage a person to seek help and it could have made a ripple. One little free sticker can have a huge affect on how a person choses to deal with their mental health. 
I enjoyed contributing to breaking the silence of mental health and sharing the message of the work that is done by See Change. I think a huge well done is in need for Scott who got real grass and bails of hay into the city centre and set up an amazing little park. A well done to all the volunteers who helped out including the people from Bodywhys and thank you to everybody who wore a sticker today :)

First day jitters

On Monday I officially became a college student! Needless to say me being me I was very nervous and not very sure on what to expect. Thinking back now although today is only my third day I didn't really have anything to be nervous about. NUI Maynooth were more than welcoming, friendly and helpful.

Beginning college is a new start for me, a start where nobody knows my background. Its not that I am ashamed of my past in terms of my depression and self harm but this new beginning in college allows me to have the chance to let people get to know me for me and not my past, people wont have the chance to judge me on my ill mental health and I am hoping it will stay that way. The aim of Label Jars Not People is to create a society where people with mental health issues are not judged, looked down on and seen as an outcast. My time here in Maynooth will be spent spreading the word of positive mental health and reducing stigma but it will also be a time for me to protect myself from the people who may judge me and have a negative affect on my continuing recovery.

My time here in college is going to be a time of enjoyment, learning, developing relationships and making a difference to the college, the college students and to society in general. I hope to become a part of a number of clubs and societies including mental health society, scouts and athletics. I have been warned by the lectures already that for my BA in community and youth work there will be a heavy work load but I have spent this week preparing mentally for the amount work I can expect. Also with the help and support available for the college I don't see myself being left in the dark and struggling very often.

Despite my first day jitters I'm not finding college life too daunting, I know college isn't going to be easy but in saying that I know its not going to be extremely difficult. If there are any students reading this that are worried about what to do after they finish their leaving cert without a doubt I would recommend considering going to college. I have been here three days and the college, students and the staff have had a huge impact on me, a good impact on me!

Photo of the day. :)

Ashling doesn't like hugs......

Console Walk and Talk

On Saturday the 14th of September to mark world suicide prevention day/week Console held a Walk and Talk event in the Phionex Park. As we (Label Jars Not People)are working with Console this year to raise some much needed funds we were on site to lend a hand where needed. As suggested in the name this event was to encourage people to talk as talking is a key element to positive mental health. The walk/ run began at 10 am with many budding walkers and runners lining up at the starting line ready to take on this challenge in order to make a difference, get people talking and raise some much needed funds for Console. With the weather truing out to be dry and sunny people turned up without delay to take advantage of the good weather all the while supporting this amazing cause.

This year from August 2013 to July 2014, our chosen charity is Console: the National charity for suicide prevention. We have chosen this charity as it is such a prominent charity in mental health awareness in this country, and one that we believe is worth helping. Console was set up in 2002 by Paul Kelly a Celbridge local after he experienced the death of his young sister through suicide. Through his loss, Paul recognised a need for a dedicated Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Postvention Service here in Ireland.  Since then Console has developed into a National Organisation supporting people in Suicidal Crisis and those Bereaved by Suicide through Professional Counselling, Support and Helpline Services. 

A great day was had by all. It was nice to be so welcomed by the members of Console who were grateful for the help but we were grateful to be aloud help. We met some familiar faces and met some new faces which was great. It was a nice day and despite a cold and early start it was enjoyed by all members of the Label Jars Not People team in attendance. We would like to thank the members of Console for inviting us to come along and being so friendly and welcoming.

Nicola and myself from Label Jars Not People

Myself, Louise and Nicola with the CEO/Founder of Console Paul Kelly and Console staff member Ciaran.

Cycle against suicide 2014- week 3

So this week I can report that I in fact did go for two cycles to help prepare for the cycle against suicide so next week will be week four of my preparations. I know I'm a day late with this post but I'm starting college tomorrow so I have been a bit busy.

The main thing I need to work on in order to be able to complete this cycle is my fitness level. I have never really been a very fit person but in order to complete this goal which i have set myself I need to get fitter in order to be able to work on my cycling. Over the next couple of months my main focus is going to be on fitness. I will still be cycling, cycling to and from scouts and to and from athletics to maintain the level of cycling ability I have at the moment but in addition to that I will be swimming once a week in college, training at times with the group I help coach in athletics and use the wii fit to help build up strength by taking part in different muscle exercises.

I have no solid plan set in place yet in terms of a fitness plan but over the course of the next week I will be putting things down on paper in order to help me get into a routine and stick to it. I feel myself having more energy at times since I have started to be more active and I have also been watching what I eat, eating on a more regular basis with three meals a day and less junk food. I have begun to see a change in myself, with my old habits and also with my mood.

I'm starting college tomorrow and my aim over the next couple of weeks/months is to gain the support of the college with this venture I have set out on. Provided I am not on placement during the cycle against suicide there will be no changing my mind and there will be no stopping me trying to complete the whole cycle. I have a long way to go before I am able to say I am ready for the cycle but I'm still going, its slow progress but its progress all the same.

Photo of the day. :)

My baby Lilo :)

It was no walk in the park

Taking time out to reflect is a huge part of my recovery and since I have finished my therapy in CAMHS I have had a lot of time to reflect on things which I have experienced in the past. I often think that I have had too much time to reflect but nevertheless it is important I do that so I can more on.

One thing which I never really reflected on or thought about was my three and a half years which I spent attending weekly appointments with my CAMHS team. The only time I wasn't attending weekly appointments was the time when I was in hospital yet I was still very much linked in with the staff there. Now this post is not meant to be about praising CAMHS in Celbridge but I do have to say they were amazing. The support and care I received was top notch and I could not find any faults in it. They were dedicated to providing me with the best care possible and they did just that. They worked hard to get me a place in hospital when I was on the verge of attempting suicide, they worked hard with myself and my family to help build our relationships and most importantly they worked hard to ensure I was always included in decision, I was always aware of what was going on with my treatment and most importantly they always made sure I was comfortable in anything we did and to top it all of they tried to ensure I was safe at all times. They were amazing and I could not have asked for better treatment during the hardest years of my life and for that I would like to say a huge thanks to all the people at Linn Dara CAMHS.

My time spent having treatment with CAMHS was not easy despite every effort being made to help me through the treatment. I went to weekly sessions where I engaged in talking therapy or CBT- cognitive behavioural therapy and while these sessions only lasted an hour each week I would go home thinking about what was discussed or bring home some exercise I could do which were related to my CBT work. It was hard enough being introduced to all of this and trying to get my head around things but with the added pressure of missing school to make appointments made things a lot harder. In transition year it wasn't so bad leaving school early once or twice a week to keep appointments as it was transition year and there was less work to catch up on but things changed drastically when I went into fifth year. The stress of the homework, study, exams and class work all began to pile up and made even harder to deal with when I was missing time from school each week to keep appointments. i couldn't miss the appointments because of school though as at the end of the day my mental health was and is more important that school or college work. Missing time each week from school caused people to ask questions, caused people to begin to judge me and think that I was just trying to get time off school when I reality that was not the case, it certainly was no walk in the park like some people thought and my four months in hospital wasn't just an act to get time off school like some people also though.

What I am getting at here in this post is that because I was missing school for an hour or two a week people thought it was great because I was missing school or missing tests or missing the work but the reality of it was it only made things harder. I had extra work to catch up on in my own time, I had to deal with some teachers being annoyed over missing their classes and I had to try and keep looking after my mental health at the same time. The main point of this post is to say if there are people in your school missing time for appointments don't think they have it any easier than you do, if they miss time it is most likely because they need to miss time. I struggled through the final three years of school in terms of the amount of time I missed and the amount of work I had to catch up on so it is no walk in the park ad before judging people you school think about how you would feel in their situation.

Suicide prevention day

Today marks suicide prevention day. Thinking about it now I am glad that my suicide attempts were only attempts. My first suicide attempt may not have been my only suicide attempt but that was because I was in a dark place. I didn't talk to my family or my friends and I thought I didn't want help but in fact I did. There is always a reason to live no matter what you might think- I am happy that I am alive and I am happy that I can share my story in the hopes that somebody will read this and realise that there is always a reason to live. Things such as the love an animal has for you, your family, your friends, sports, things you love to do, everything that makes you who you are is your reason to live. At the time I felt there was no way out but I was wrong, there is always a way out and the way out is through life. You may feel that there is no help around or that nobody cares about you but that is not true, there is help and people do care about you. There is always a reason to live and don't ever forget that!

I understand how people are feeling when they get to the point of considering suicide. I know everybody has different reasons for feeling the way they do but I understand the feeling of hopelessness, despair, being fed up and just wanting a way out but suicide is not the answer. There is always hope and there is always a way out of horrible times. All you have to do is talk and reach for help things will get better no matter what you think, things can always get better.

The most important thing that you can do is talk to someone if you are feeling like you want to end it all. Believe me I have been there and I wish I didn’t try to take my own life but I can’t go back in time and I have to live with the scars for the rest of my life. Talk to anyone, a parent, a friend a sibling or even a teacher. Sure email me at if you need to talk to some who knows what you’re going through. I know that there is a reason to live. I am still battling against my depression. But I am not going to let it get me down again. I am not going to let it take over my life and you shouldn’t either.

Next year I will be taking part in the Cycle against suicide to help break the cycle of suicide and I am also working on Label Jars Not People to reduce stigma and encourage people to speak openly about mental health. So please spare a thought for those who may be struggling, for those who have taken their life and for the people left behind dealing with this terrible loss.

Talking is key and its not that hard to ask someone how they are feeling! 

Cycle against suicide 2014- week 3

Ok so I'm just going to be honest about this...... I have not got on my bike once this week!! now this is not because I have lost interest or because I want to give up this is because I have been so busy with the debs which I had to leave early because I was sick and Label Jars Not People because I was busy preparing for our think big training day and trying to get things in order. The other thing that has kept me busy is my bedroom as it currently looks like a bomb hit so I have been desperately trying to organise, clear out and redecorate my bedroom before I start college on the 16th.

So I am hoping to get out on my bike today, I haven't been cycling with the skinny tires in the rain before so today will be a challenge. I'm sticking to my night time cycle because there are less cars on the road and despite it being dark I feel safer without so many cars. There is also less people so I don't feel so self-conscious. Today I am going to try and work on a fitness plan to help me stay focused. I'm hoping to be cycling three times a week, swimming once a week and athletics twice a week when I start back in college, I will also be doing some fitness and strength building exercises.

So as this week saw no cycling my update next week will be title week 3 also because I didn't cycle this week. Keep an eye out here as I might post up my fitness plan if any of you guys are planning on working on your fitness it might help you make your own plan. I will have some more posits over this week about mental health and some more about some things I have struggles with but I also have a few less serious posts in mind so watch closely :)

Photo of the day. :)

Myself and Shane on the night of my debs :)

Think Bigger

This week I got a phone call with what I can only describe as the best news ever. This week I found out that Label Jars Not People were approved for our level 2 think big project, Think Bigger. I was over the moon. I began this project on a spur of the moment to be honest. I had thought about it a lot but I didn’t plan anything I just decided to do it. I applied for think Big in the hopes that I would get accepted but after not hearing from them for a while I decided to go ahead and start my project.What started off as my project has now become a group project. From the very beginning I have a huge amount of support of my friends and I now have formed a team with 8 of my close and trusted friends.

This basically means that for 6 months that Label Jars Not People team are going to have the support of Think Big, a personal mentor to support, advise and guide us along the way, a think big start up pack including a laptop for Label Jars Not People and we also receive some much needed funding which will go along to help us getting know and help us organise some more events!

On saturday the 7th of September myself and two other members of the team will be heading into Dublin to attend a training day with Think Big. From my experience of Last years training day I am excited and restless just thinking about this years one. It is a great day with the chance to meet like minded people, learn new things, get new ideas and build new relationships.

Promoting positive metal health and reducing stigma means a lot to me since I have become ill. Before I became ill I knew nothing about mental health which made everything scarier for me. It made things harder to cope in the beginning until I began to learn more about what was going on and what I was experiencing. I don’t want this to happen to other your people. I want people to know about mental health and talk about issues associated with mental health regardless weather they know someone who is suffering or if they are suffering. People need to know about this because without our mental health what do we have?

The more people talk about mental health the less of a taboo subject it will become and more people will seek help when they need it.  By promoting positive mental health we are reducing the stigma of mental health and we are raising awareness.

Keep an eye out on Label Jars Not Peoples blog, Facebook and Twitter  to see how we get on at our training day and to see lots of pictures and hear what we learned :)

Visit the Think Big website here to learn more about what they do.

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