See Change Ambassador Ellen Downey writes:

I have recently met a new person at our support group meetings.  The minute he walked into the room we saw it. It. The black cloud. The look of complete and utter depression. We knew it had taken everything in this person to make this huge step.  They were a complete shell, empty, and broken. As he began to talk, to share his story, I could feel my heart breaking. It was breaking at the thought of this poor person, at rock bottom and not knowing how to get back up. We are lucky in our little group, at present no-one is at this stage, we have all been there, yes, but are back up or at least on the stepping ladder.  As he spoke we were all catapulted back to similar moments in our own struggles, that feeling of numbness, where you genuinely can’t figure out how you can go on. This man has made huge strides already, he has gone to his GP, but on hearing his story I immediately think of all campaigns I have seen over the last few weeks coming up to the election. What really can our GPs do if they don’t have the experience or tools to help us? What help did this man get? A fortnight supply of anti-depressants. Maybe the GP thought this poor soul would attempt suicide if given any more, which I can understand, but surely if that thought enters your mind another step needs to be taken, but what could this GP do? A change needs to be made, we can’t just send people suffering back out into the cold. If you broke your leg wouldn’t you at least expect crutches, a support?

His story brought me back to my own experiences. I remember being so low, so so low, that i went to the dr. I was sent immediately with a letter in my hand to A+E. As I handed over the letter to A+E,i could barely breathe. After a few minutes a nurse came out to me. She gave me the once over and then started a series of questions, what was wrong? I don’t know. Why did i feel like this? I don’t know. Had my parent’s separated? No. Had I a job? Yes. Did I like my job? Yes.  It became pretty apparent that the nurse was getting more and more frustrated with me and what the next step could be. So I was sent home. 6 weeks later I was admitted to hospital after attempting suicide. I had taken my first step, I had sought help. But what help can these medical professions give us if they are ill equipped and ill-educated on this topic.  This in no way shape or form is taking slights at medical staff, I could not do their job in a million years and we are so lucky in our system to have caring and kind people, it is the people in power who the slights are for.

So, back to our new friend. He was giving some medication. Yes, there is room for medication, and definitely needed on my part to provide balance, but the support that one is given through talking is surreal. It makes you realise that you should not be ashamed. That it is ok to say these things out loud. To express yourself without feeling guilty or stupid. To find the answer to that question- why do I feel like this? But how can we get them talk therapies made available to more people? There are people all over the country fighting for such therapies but there are not there.

Ireland is lucky to have so many charities like Aware, Pieta House and campaigns like See Change to encourage people to speak out. Because if we cannot rely on our government to train and equip our medical staff, these charities are our only hope. I have been praying and hoping all week that our new friend comes back again to talk. That he has hope.



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