Mental Health and me – written by See Change Ambassador Lorraine Cooke

If you were to look at me in public now you would more than likely see
a positive, bubbly happy person.  For the most part this is true.
What would you say then if I said that one of the roles that I
volunteer in is as a mental health ambassador with See Change?  You see
that if you were to take a closer look at me you may see that I cannot
make eye contact with you despite having a sense that you are there
but I cannot see you or anything else for that matter.   There are
times that this is easier to explain than other times and once you
don’t assume that I am happy to be wrapped in cotton wool or to be
talked about to your partner in front of me  I am happy to confront
the issue or tell you nicely that I would prefer not to talk about it
at this time.

I was fortunate that my family  asked me the question, was I ok?  When
they seen me take my anxiety out on myself in the summer time of 2002.
It was clear to them that I wasn’t, which is why I was taken to my GP
and then refereed to a councillor for a number of sessions.  I continued to see
another councillor when I moved back to Dublin a few years later  until
I felt that I had a handle of been able to put the coping tools into
action.  There are still some days where I am not ok but when I am I
have decided to link in with my community for opportunities that I can
access that interest me in the areas of work and leisure.  This is why
I reacted to a tweet that was looking for  mental health ambassadors to
join See Change in February 2015.   As  I am also a voluntary disability
rights activist  I have used my experience of becoming an ambassador
with See Change to my advantage when sharing my story of seeking
equality to employment with the Irish Examiner and the herald which
were published in these papers in October 2015 as they related to the

Why do I do what I
do?  The answers for me are straight forward as I have a strong
support network of friends around me who I link in with regularly
through  social media and in person through the  different circles
that I am in since I began living independently with the aid of a
personal assistant and local taxi firms plus I wish to contribute
equally to society in the way that my family and friends do.   What is
the one message that I wish to leave you with?  My message is that it is
honestly ok not to feel ok as there are people out there who do care
either through making contact through a helpline, your GP or talking
to a family member or friend.

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