During the month of May this year, marks 4 years since I plucked up the courage to give my first ever speech in front of an audience at a public event in a training centre in front of approx. 100 people in two sessions to, two different groups morning and afternoon in Cork city. Amongst the guests were representatives of local mental health charities such as Suicide Aware and Pieta House as well as secondary school students and National Learning Network trainees. The following speech was given on May 2013 as part of the annual Life Long Learning Festival in Cork. This is part one of my story:
My Speech, full transcript
Since the age of 14, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, although I was suffering from bouts of depression since childhood.
My depression started years earlier, due to the hardship in hindsight I experienced as a child growing up. It was an awful period in my life, where I witnessed a lot of things growing up and experienced a lot of emotional and physical pain.
As the years went by my depression became the dominant feature of my life. I became socially isolated. I was cut off from my friends and family, like going to the cinema to watch a movie, family celebrations like a wedding or a 21st Birthday party etc.. or just simply hanging out with people.
I found myself all alone and living in fear and struggling with agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia is a condition where someone fears the outside world after the person, stays indoors for a long period of time and finds it increasingly difficult or even terrifying to be outside again. People find themselves to be safe indoors away from the pain and cruelty of the real world.
After spending a lot of time indoors I found myself crying a lot, completely helpless, emotionally and physically drained and haunted by past memories.
Anxiety attacks were now also a frequent part of my life along with OCD – obsessive compulsive disorder. I found myself becoming obsessed with cleaning my home. I would vigorously clean my home all day long and at high-speed until I am exhausted and can’t do no more. I would run around putting things back in it’s place and make sure the house is thoroughly cleaned and if an item or object in the house was either missing or out of place, I would get agitated or aggressive and angry to a point where it would drive my family crazy and spark off arguments.
The OCD was a distraction for me from the real underlying problems that were causing my depression and I, let it hold me a prisoner in my own home.
It was for me a lonely and frightening time.
However in 2012, after coming into contact with the National Learning Network in Cork. It opened up channels in different areas of my life. I felt a sense of self-worth because of the connections and friendships I made and the ability to reach out more and gather information from different sources relating to my illness. I learnt that decisions and choices I made can determine how I live and what type of person I can become. If you keep entertaining negative thoughts long enough there won’t be any light at the end of the tunnel.
Gaining confidence within yourself to make a stand for what you believe in for the saying goes if you’re not prepared to stand up for something you fall for everything.
It is a well known fact that 75% of daily conversations can be negative. Negativity is a bad attitude but I can change my attitude and choose a good attitude, which would enable me to be life giver and not a life drainer. It is important to nourish and cultivate the wellbeing and awareness I get from reaching out to groups, friends, and information on mental health issues etc. and keep going to come out of self and move from the selfishness of negativity to the selfless of positivity. There is an old wives tale that states laughter is the best medicine of all and as adults we become conditioned, to ways of life that may not be good for us. ( children laugh a lot more than adults).
Through having an inner belief in someone or something and trust that I can do this and all will be well. Where ever that source of energy or inner belief comes from or whatever works for people. whether it is a friendly face, good listener, group therapy and a wiliness to change, to take that first step at times into the fear of the unknown but to face that fear and do it anyway – Susan Jeffers from the book feel the fear and do it anyway.
As I read somewhere that F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real. Poor self-image is bad for our body both physically and mentally because we tend to become what we believe about ourselves. For it’s always better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
In Conclusion I will leave you now with a quote from George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950, Irish Playwright):
“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and for as long as I live, it is my privilege to do whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die – for the harder I work the more I live. I will rejoice in life for its own sake. For life is no brief candle, to me is a sort of splendid torch which I got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Thank you very much!
As part one is very long with a lot of information to take in and read. I have broken this down into two parts. In part two of my story, I will be taking you behind the scenes as to who, what, why and where I ended up, giving such a very deep and personal story like the one above to strangers in the first place. It is rather a personal story I suppose for a speech with so much detailed information especially at a time when my confidence and self esteem were I suppose non-existent!
I do hope after reading this, you will come back and read the 2nd part to get the ‘full’ story ( coming next week or so!) which may help your understanding and possible questions.
I do look forward to your thoughts and questions and or comments as per usual.
Is Mise Le Meas