Mairead Carey writes:

“Back in 2010 I started a new journey, one that changed my entire life. I could never have guessed how it would turn out. Back in 2010 I reached out for help for the first time, I was 24years young and I was so very lost. I was so confused about everything, something in me felt so very wrong and I lost a handle on life. A great darkness consumed me, I have felt the darkness many times in life from a very young age but now it was choking me, it grabbed hold of me. I tried to ignore it, drown it out with alcohol and tried to release it through self harm but nothing worked. It gripped me tighter the more I remained silent. It was as if silence was its fuel for its raging fire that tore me apart from the inside out. My soul felt empty. Although people were around me I felt so alone, so isolated, even in conversation I felt no connection to anyone, not even myself. It was terrifying, so terrifying that I decided to reach out for help because if I didn’t I would have lost my life.

When I reached out I felt so naked, so vulnerable and ashamed. My arm bore the marks of the battle I was so obviously losing. The shame consumed me. Although I felt so vulnerable when I reached out I was received with such compassion and empathy, I was shocked someone actually wanted to listen to me and they wanted to hear what I had been battling. Someone wanted to hear my voice, it had a huge positive affect me on. I spent many, many hours trawling through my issues in therapy, it wasn’t easy and yes it was so very painful but this process changed my life. I began a journey back in 2010 to save my own life and because of community and compassion I am surviving.

The biggest part in my recovery journey is community, it is my fiancé (who I proposed to in Paris last year), it is my friends and it is my G.P and the therapists I have come into contact with. For some people it can include family but in my life that just is not possible and that is ok. Using my voice to battle my way through the darkness, through the quicksand and the strangling thorns of my demons, I survived. But recovery from self harm, suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety and much more is not a straight road. It sounds simple but it is not easy. It demands a lot from me physically and mentally and when I finished therapy it does not mean that I am “fixed” but more along the lines of I am “a work in progress”.

Life is not as simple as tying all lose ends up neatly into a nice big bow but it is ever flowing, ever changing. Challenges will still meet me in my life but it is remembering that in times of struggle to reach out to the community that I have built around me, it means talking, using my voice. It means at times still using the skills I have picked up to help myself through and sometimes it is still difficult. I found that creating a purpose for my pain has really helped me. I used my pain as fuel for a fire burning within me. I don’t want anyone to struggle alone in silence so I studied psychology, counselling and psychotherapy. I want to give back to people what I received which is a listening ear, compassion, empathy and safe place to talk.

I have accomplished many things on this journey I started 5 years ago and my passion for other people has driven me to open up my own counselling service in Clondalkin Village. I have faced many challenges along the way from the mental health field, some professionals and also from family. Mental health and the battles I have faced are filled with stigma, so much so that some people tried to silence me more than once. But I continue to speak because I believe we who struggle have a right to be heard. I believe we are important and I believe that if you struggle and continue to struggle you are stronger than you know because just look at how far you have come. I am writing today to encourage others, to let you know there is hope and that you are worth it. Just as good times come and go, bad times also will come and go. Nothing lasts forever and that includes the darkness of depression, things will change once you give them a chance to. Don’t give up, everything and anything is possible once you take the first step and reach out.  When I started on my journey I could never have imagined things could become so beautiful. I still struggle at times but I found a reason to fight and that reason is for me and for you.”

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