I am a 22 year old woman living with cystic fibrosis. Two years ago, my condition deteriorated so fast that I barely realized it was happening ‘til my own death was staring me right in the face. Let me also say that I did not ever expect that it would be a liver transplant I’d have, as liver disease is a very serious but less common feature of the condition.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and gastrointestinal tract as well as the liver and reproductive system. If two carriers of the gene have a child then the child has a 25% (1 in 4) chance of being born with cystic fibrosis.
Because there is no cure, our daily routine involves time consuming treatments that help to keep our lungs clear as the build up of mucus can lead to recurrent lung infections that cause respiratory damage over time. While recently there has been positive developments in the treatment of cystic fibrosis showing significant improvement in symptoms in patients across the border, studies still show that lung transplantation is the best and most effective way forward for people living with CF.
I’ll never forget my friend Keely. She was the healthiest example of a girl with CF I ever knew. We wrote back and forth to each other on facebook as we could never meet face to face. She was younger than me and asked my advice from time to time. She attended a different hospital to me but I remember her telling me that she couldn’t breathe when she stood up and her doctor didn’t believe her. If I’m honest, she was young and I thought she may be slightly over exaggerating too. Her O2 was in the normal range, and she was hardly ever in hospital.
To look at her you’d say she was the picture of health. About two months later Keely was transferred to St. Vincent’s where I attended. She had one to one nursing and was on 24 hour oxygen. Immediately after assessment she was placed on the list for double lung transplant, but it didn’t come on time and she died. This illness is a cruel one and it never lets you forget that it can claim it’s rights on you at any given time, without shame or a hint of remorse. When it takes you, it doesn’t just take you, it takes your family, your friends, the nurses who looked after you, the nursing staff that fed you, the man who gave you his heart and the acquaintances you made that you never thought were important.
I never worried about what the future held for me ‘til I was facing the fact that I might not live to see it. In December of 2011, I was put on the list for a liver transplant and remained no.1 on the list for eight months in both Ireland and England. I was never a religious person but found myself praying more than Pope John Paul and making promises to God that I knew were unrealistic and I would never be able to keep.
Naturally, I became depressed and started thinking of ways to end my life, I felt so sick I didn’t think I could endure any more pain, physically or mentally and had some other personal stuff going on at the time. The only thing that stopped me from overdosing was a conversation I had with my sister two weeks before, and the fact that there had been two suicides in my town that week already. My family had been through enough and I didn’t want to be looking down on them drying their tears.
But desperation changes a person into anybody but themselves, it makes you do and say things you wouldn’t normally think of. I felt like I could not take anymore but I decided I had to take control and change my point of view. During the wait I had two major scares that set me back and made me inactive on the list. After that, I fought hard to stay well enough to have the operation but after the second scare, I honestly thought it was game over for me and had accepted it. Two weeks later I was brought into theater and my life changed from then on. It’s amazing what the brain has the capability to overcome.
I thought that these things only happened to other people and never me. I knew the likelihood of needing a transplant some day, I just didn’t ever want to believe it. And why did I get mine and Keely didn’t get hers? It’s not fair, but that’s life and life is not fair. Someday I will probably need a lung transplant (taking into note that I say probably because a part of me is in denial) but that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I come to it. Even now, I think I’m the only person in Ireland not freaking about Ebola… because somehow my mind still refuses to believe that anything like that could happen to me.
But anyone, any age, at any time, can end up needing a transplant. Sometimes there is no red light to give you the warning. Keeping so many friends in mind that have reached heaven’s gates before me, that waited on lists til they were wrongfully forced to draw their last breaths, I think of each and every one of them and know that I am lucky.
Last year, there was a significant increase in the number of transplants that took place throughout the country. A whopping 293 people received transplants last year compared to 275 in the year 2011 according to The Irish Kidney Association. It was a ‘record year’ for life saving operations and that is exactly why it is so important to continue to spread awareness about organ donation in Ireland, in particular amongst our young people. There simply aren’t enough donors for the volume of people needing organs, and all that it means is that people are dying because of it.
Currently in Ireland, you must indicate your wishes to be an organ donor before your organs can be retrieved and used for transplantation, whereas other countries are following the ‘opt out system’. I believe it will only be a matter of time before Ireland follows suit, but for now all we can do is encourage our fellow citizens that, morally, donating your organs is the best thing you could ever do.
Because why not? Your organs are of no use to you when you die but could serve huge purpose to someone who is very much in need. The gift of life is the most selfless act a person can commit to of which it’s meaning and importance can have no limit on value. To receive it is the greatest feeling of all time. I can’t think of anything more satisfying than knowing I have benefited somebody else’s life.
I am sending out this message as a plea to anyone out there who is not an organ donor already to become one, and because it’s the least I can do as an advocate for the people that lost their lives waiting for organs that could have saved them. You could save up to 8 lives like mine and people like me, and that’s a pretty remarkable legacy to leave behind!
To become a donor, free text the word DONOR to 50050. Donor cards are available from local pharmacies and doctors surgeries and you can also indicate your decision to be a donor when applying for a driving licence. Don’t forget to discuss your wishes with your family.
Ever heard of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps? Every year, many young Irish people between the ages of 10 and 16 join the ranks of the voluntary organisation as Cadets.
These Cadets become actively involved in the community helping vulnerable groups like the elderly and people with disabilities, but they're also trained in basic like saving skills including First Aid, CPR and Home Nursing.
Having those skills can make a huge difference to their own lives too. Just ask 16-year-old Ballinrobe girl Eimear Morrin. She used them to save her mother's life.
Eimear was at home and came downstairs to discover her mother lying unconscious in the kitchen. She'd had a brain aneurysm and wasn't in a good way but, thanks to her daughter's quick thinking, she survived.
"I knew straight away to open her airways and checked her pulse and we were able to perform CPR, which I had learned through the training", she explains. "Never underestimate the value of getting the Order of Malta."
Eimear is just one of the many Cadets who've gained invaluable skills through the Order of Malta training and she's now become something of a mascot for their organisation. Her story has been entered into the Better Together video awards in the hopes of raising awareness about what the organisation does and encouraging more young people to follow in her footsteps.
You can vote for her story here.
For more information on The Order of Malta be sure to check out their official website.
Do you have a few unwanted bras hidden at the back of your underwear drawer? Well, crack 'em out because they could actually do a whole lot of good this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Marie Keating Foundation is appealing for girls and women across the nation to donate their unwanted undies in the name of breast cancer research. It doesn't matter what size, shape, colour or condition they're in either.
For every bra donated they'll receive €1 from Roche Products (Ireland) Limited, who are sponsoring the Give Your Bra for Breast Cancer campaign. All the proceeds raised will go towards the Foundation's work to raise awareness about the symptoms and signs of cancer and the healthy lifestyle changes that we can all make to help prevent it.
Getting involved in the campaign is really easy and there are plenty of different options available.
You can donate your bra directly at one of the nationwide drop-off points listed on the Foundation's website or send it by post to Bras for Breast Cancer, 5th Floor, Huguenot House, 35 - 38 Stephens Green, Dublin 2. You can send in as many as you want so be sure to ask your friends and family if they've any spare undies they'd like to throw in the envelope.
If you want to organise a larger collection in your office, school, shop or community centre then you can e-mail Fiona Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details about posters, collection labels and bra drop bins.
There's always the option of hosting a bit of a bra drop party too. For details about hosting a Girls Night In or to get your hands on a free Girls Night In pack you can contact the very same Fiona Sullivan or give the foundation a buzz on 01 628 3728.
And to think you thought that old off-colour white bra would never be of use again?
For more information on the campaign be sure to check out the Marie Keating Foundation's official website, and if you want to know how to do what's best for your breasts be sure to check out these handy tips.
If you’ve got an interest in highlighting young people’s mental health-related issues through film, you’ve got exactly three months to perfect your masterpiece for the CAST 2014/5 Film Festival.
Submissions for completed projects close on January 15, 2015, so now’s the perfect time to encourage your mates from school, college or the youth club to get filming! According to the organisers, the festival is a “call to action” for youth groups, and they want to get schools and youth organisations to produce films that “shed light on a social issue”, and offer potential solutions to the issue mentioned.
The application criteria are pretty broad, which means that your film can be a documentary, a work of fiction, or a “visually creative film” as you see fit. It should look to highlight relevant resources available in your local area, and it must:
The event itself is great fun, and it’s gone from strength to strength in recent years. Last year’s festival showcased 15 short films, and was attended by the now Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Tickets are expected to be around €18, and that includes a two-course meal along with a souvenir red carpet photo. If you fancy yourself to be an aspiring Steven Spielberg with a great idea to publicise, get entering by clicking here.
Bloggger, Niamh, chats to Clara Rose about her career and work as a music therapist.
You hold a Bachelor of Music from Maynooth and went on to complete a two year Music Therapy Masters at the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance in UL. Was this all a 'master plan' or made up was you went along?
I wouldn’t call it a ‘master plan’ (does anyone have one of those?) But here is how it all happened:
When I was in 6th year in school and thinking about what to study in University I had a few ideas; Music, Film Studies, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Marine Biology were all on my CAO form.
I went for the BMus (Bachelor of Music) interview in Maynooth and began studying ‘pure music’. At this point I didn’t even know ‘Music Therapy’ existed. Then in third year I studied a Music Therapy module. I did some research into the area and the courses on offer. I became very interested in pursuing a Masters in Music Therapy from UL. After my degree I took a year out to get experience for the Masters in UL.
Had you always planned to study Music Therapy? Why did you decide to venture into that particular field?
Not at all, at the end of second year in my Music Degree I was reading the module list to make choices for third year and spotted a module in ‘Music Therapy’.
I began to get excited. When I saw this I thought; ‘What is Music Therapy? This actually exists?! It sounds like the PERFECT career for me!’ I began to research it and found that the only course in Ireland was the Masters in UL (this is still the only Music Therapy course offered in Ireland). You had to have either a Music or Psychology Degree and ‘relevant experience’ in the field of healthcare to apply.
I had the music degree and I kind of had the healthcare experience; my brother, Daniel, had Cerebral Palsy and loved music passionately. It was his way of communicating with the world. This really informed my experience of music, acting as a way of ‘promoting health’ in a person – singing with my brother, listening to music with him and dancing with him. It allowed him to ‘be’ in the world and to connect with others in a very special way.
After my degree I took a year out to ‘get experience’ to apply for the Masters. I got a job as a care assistant in a residential service for adults with disabilities. I really enjoyed this work and as a result, knew I was interested in working in the healthcare field as a music therapist.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Being a musician is not an easy job. You HAVE to love music as the rest of what it involves can be challenging, difficult, pride-swallowing work!
Being a musician means:
What advice would you give to students who are trying to become music therapists?
The first step is to ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer is Yes, then here are the steps:
What is a typical day for you?
I work four days a week as a music therapist. I work as a musician at weekends. Every day is different! Generally on my ‘Music Therapy Days’ I travel to two to three services per day, running group and individual music therapy sessions with clients. These services range from disability services, nursing homes and a hospital. In a week I see up to 100 clients. The earliest I start work is 10am, the latest I finish work is 8.30pm. I usually ‘dine’ in my car at lunchtime but if I’m lucky I might go to a coffee shop. On my late finishing days I have a big lunch and a late dinner. Always make time for food.
On a Friday I do Music Therapy or Music administration: sending emails, phone-calls, Music Therapy client assessments, post CDs, update ‘Clara Rose’ website, practice music or write songs. Some weekends I am off and others are busy with gigs. I tour around Ireland solo or with my band and in Europe. I toured Europe solo twice in 2014.
In regards to music therapy, what are the most challenging and rewarding elements to your job?
What was your career defining moment?
Music Therapy: September 2014: securing a HSE funded post at a Hospital and presenting about Music Therapy to the clinical team (Doctors, consultants, head nurses, therapists).
Music – there has been a few…
Is there anything I didn't ask you that you would like the readers to know?
As the saying goes; “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”. This is definitely true for me – I absolutely love what I do, I’ve been very lucky in life to have the gift of music and in all areas of my work I get to share this gift. I’m so grateful for this. As they say, ‘If you follow your heart, your dreams are never far behind’!
All too often, I come across promising movies riddled with a very common flaw: unlikeable characters. When one contemplates the likeability of onscreen characters, it is usually geared towards the protagonist or heroine. Yet, if the aforementioned role is to be portrayed favourably, they must ultimately go up against a believable adversary. Thus for me, a major factor in creating likeability is believability. Please don’t misinterpret my point, the ‘bad guy’ should not be conceived as anyway heroic or cool, but rather as detestable.
This list will attempt to culminate a collective of villains, who either make viewers’ blood boil with rage or skin itch with sheer repulsion. Therefore, unlike many similar lists available out there, this compilation will exclude anti-heroes or those antagonists who have eclipsed the popularity of their respective rival or franchise. Consequently, the likes of Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson’s Joker or Anthony Hopkins’ chilling Hannibal Lector portrayals will be omitted from selection. If their face is on a t-shirt, their malevolence just hasn’t cut it for this list.
Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton, Gaslight (1944)
Whilst I shall always endeavour to highlight motion pictures that have fallen by the wayside in terms of modern popularity, this little gem’s plaudits alone assert its rightful place on this list. Our lead villain’s evil characteristics are not as initially apparent as the majority of the later entries; an element of his scheme which makes his demeanour all the more unsettling. Gregory keeps his fragile wife Paula, played by esteemed star, Ingrid Bergman; housebound claiming that she is mentally unstable. All the while, it is he who is responsible for his naïve wife’s psychological downfall. It is strange how psychosomatic tactics can almost outweigh those who utilise physical brutality as a means of gaining supremacy. Subtlety and pacing play a big part here.
Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker, RoboCop (1987)
In typical 1980s fashion, we are presented with a highly adult movie, which is strangely marketed towards children. Granted, the franchise went in a more child-friendly direction following its third instalment, from the outset Paul Verhoeven’s gore laden sci-fi extravaganza was intended to be a multifaceted satire on American and technological society. Unlike the syndicated 90s television programme of the same name, this picture raises hairs better than most horror flicks. In my opinion, this is attributed to two major reasons. Firstly, Basil Poledouris’ score complements the futuristic setting amazingly; it is both unnerving and exciting in equal measure. Secondly, Kurtwood Smith as Clarence Boddicker, a ruthless and psychopathic crime boss who takes pleasure in brutally taking the lives of countless police officers.
Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes, Misery (1990)
The first female to appear on our list: in so very many movies female characters are presented as being insipid and void of any depth. Probably due to the fact that the film industry is dominated by a male majority but that is an argument for another day. Contrary to this ongoing and seemingly overt trend, Kathy Bates goes against the grain in this terrifying thriller, turning in a truly creepy performance as obsessed fiction fan Annie Wilkes, winning an Academy Award for her efforts. To this day, this film remains the only Stephen King adaption to take home an Oscar; even surpassing the memorable The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and The Green Mile (1999).
Ted Levin as ‘Buffalo Bill’ in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Most fans when they consider said title, they immediately recall Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in their respective parts. But as mentioned in the introduction, anti-heroes such as Dr. Lector are exempt from selection due to their obvious trendy appeal. There is nothing trendy however about Jame ‘Buffalo Bill’ Gumb, the sadistic onscreen serial killer who murders numerous obese women to fashion an outfit from their remains. Like Norman Bates in Psycho (1960) and Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), this somewhat fictitious individual was based largely on notorious American murderer Ed Gein. It is this realistic dimension that makes this unjustly forgotten villain, appear that bit more unnerving.
Gary Oldman as Norman Stansfield, Leon: The Professional (1994)
Often recalled for being the movie, which offered Natalie Portman her feature debut, this Luc Beeson thriller has a place in the hearts of most serious cinema fans. A character who also holds such esteem, albeit for polar opposite reasons, is Norman Stansfield, played by English star Gary Oldman. For some, it is almost difficult to imagine the Jim Gordon actor playing such a despicable and corrupt individual - a surprise which probably bodes well for said performer abilities; having the range and capabilities to be the beloved hero, or in this case; the hated villain.
Jeremy Irons as Scar, The Lion King (1994)
My first ever visit to a movie theatre was to see this Disney animated masterpiece. It was to be the first and last time I ever shed tears in a cinema. However, it could easily make the toughest of people shed more tears than an X-Factor contestant. Despite being primarily children’s entertainment, due to the basic morals taught and catchy musical numbers, this tour-de-force transcends genre and age parameters. Much like earlier episodes of The Simpsons, this film’s umbrella of appeal encompasses the entire societal spectrum. The Shakespearian style themes and characters are especially noteworthy, with the major one being Scar. Simba’s outcast Uncle tricks his nephew into thinking he was the cause of his good-natured father’s death.
Jonathan Hyde as Bruce Ismay, Titanic (1997)
Having persuaded the Captain to push the engines to their limits, in a bid to make positive headlines upon early arrival in New York, Ismay as director of White Star Line cannot accept that his seemingly unsinkable ship has fallen victim to the treacherous Atlantic Ocean. Thus, he completes an ultimate act of cowardice; climbing into one of the last remaining lifeboats as many women and children are left behind to die. Analysis of Irish poet Derek Mahon’s piece After the Titanic may however alter one’s opinion. If one is a fan of James Cameron’s box office smash, may I suggest consulting the monochrome A Night to Remember (1958), in my opinion the greatest cinematic interpretation of the fate of the renowned vessel.
Gerard McSorley as John Gilligan, Veronica Guerin (2003)
This Joel Schumacher picture is probably mediocre at best. For a more down to earth version of events surrounding the murdered journalist, be sure to check out When the Sky Falls (2000). However, after one single viewing of this title, one will always recall McSorley’s mesmerising performance as feared Dublin crime boss John Gilligan. One scene in particular, where Gilligan brutally pummels Guerin is sure enough to fill the most composed with rage and disgust - a stark contrast to Fr. Todd Unctious, the charming visitor to Craggy Island in 1996.
Peter Andersson as Nils Bjurman, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)
I am always torn between whether or not I prefer David Fincher’s remake of the Swedish bestseller or Niels Arden Oplev’s original cinematic version. One thing is for certain though, in both movies, audiences cannot help but detest title character Lisbeth Salander’s legal guardian Nils Bjurman. The abusive authority absolutely oozes sleaze, viciously raping his client in exchange for rightful access to her finances. But in true hero versus villain style, Lisbeth gets her own back on the sadist, in a unique way, which is akin to her crafty mentality.
Woody Harrelson as Harlan DeGroat, in Out of the Furnace (2013)
Just to clarify, these lists I compose are arranged in chronological order of the respective movie’s release date and not in order of preference. I will allow you to reorganise them in line with your own particular tastes. However, I do implore everybody to check all of these films out. Our final spot goes to True Detective heavy Woody Harrelson as a callous drug dealer in small town America. Upon viewing this, I instantaneously was drawing comparisons between DeGroat and Clarence Boddicker. Both are too loathsome characters, which radiate auras of psychopathic tendency. Otherwise, this Scott Cooper picture is quite underwhelming, underutilising its stellar cast to a suitably luke-warm critical reception.
Being a young person in Ireland, you’ll almost certainly have heard about the whole controversy surrounding the Government’s JobBridge internship programme.
The scheme, which offers full-time work placements of three to six months to people in receipt of unemployment allowances, has been hailed as a success by the Government that put it in place, but it also has its fair share of detractors.
On the Government side, they argue that it has successfully stimulated employment by allowing participants to gain valuable working experience and make good professional contacts. However, opposition parties and protest groups say the Government has used JobBridge to massage employment figures in Ireland, pointing out the high non-completion rate of 59% as an indication that the scheme’s not working.
One thing all sides agree on is the fact that younger generations are most affected by JobBridge. Seeing as that’s the case, we spoke to two people who’ve done JobBridge internships, and had contrasting experiences of the system.
Eoin Kettle graduated from his business studies course in 2010 with reasonable expectations of finding a job. However, when he found himself still on the dole a year later, he was left with a choice: emigrate, or do a JobBridge internship.
“I was pretty much on the way to emigrating when it came out, and I said I’ll give it a whirl. Previous to that I was having interviews, but the roadblock each time was experience. I would’ve left college with a decent result and was somewhat confident that I could find something, but it just wasn’t the case,” says Eoin.
“My mindset during the internship was to make myself look irreplaceable so they wouldn’t go back to JobBridge. Thankfully I managed to do that, and enjoyed a good relationship with the marketing manager,” says the Portmarnock man, who managed to secure full-time work with his internship employers before leaving to take up the position of international marketing executive in another company.
Although he was given a different title, Eoin admits that the job role he took on effectively replaced a senior member of staff who was made redundant in his first company.
“There’s no question that there’s a darker side to it where the company thought they could get by if they took me on a reduced salary or took another JobBridge participant on.”
23 year-old Jake Rossiter found himself looking for work after leaving his old job at Elverys in 2012. After signing on social welfare, he joined JobBridge, and was offered an internship in a Dublin GAA club.
“I don’t find any great advantages to it. They’re so-called taking people off the live register but they’re not really. Why make them work an extra 30 hours a week for an extra €50?” says Jake, who would’ve struggled to get by had he not been entitled to an extra €47 a week for working since he was 17.
“What I didn’t like about it was the fact that you have to wait for three months from when you sign on at your local welfare office to apply for one of these JobBridges, they're a waste of time if you ask me… It’s an incentive for employers to encourage free employment,” says the Whitehall resident, who believes his internship gave him no competitive advantage despite subsequently gaining employment in a similar field as a coach with the North Dublin Schoolboys League.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) have recently launched an amazing and important new campaign, that encourages young people to actively participate in the elimination of hate speech online.
The No Hate Speech Campaign has existed in Europe for a couple of years, and now it has officially launched in Ireland. It aims to provide young people with the tools to identify what hate speech is, stand in solidarity to those who are victims of it, and work together to fight against it.
But what actually is hate speech?
According to the Council of Europe, Hate speech “covers all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including: intolerance expressed by aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities, migrants and people of immigrant origin."
Basically, what this means is that hate speech is an expression or statement (which may be written, verbal, digital, or other), that offends, threatens, insults, or hurts an individual or community, specifically because they are a member of a certain social, ethnic, or cultural group, often one that is already socially excluded, marginalised or disadvantaged. You can check out our article on it here.
What does the campaign want to do about it?
As stated on their website, the campaign has the following goals:
Sounds great! How can I get involved?
Check out their website here for information on upcoming events you can attend.
Contact email@example.com to become a youth activist with them.
Do you ever feel confused about what your legal rights and entitlements are? If you’re under 18, you do have a specific set of legal rights, and it can come in pretty handy to know them.
‘It’s your right’ is a website and app that easily explains the key rights you’re entitled to if you're under 18, as laid out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Children. It’s developed by The Ombudsman for Children’s Office.
Did you know you have a legal right to a family who cares for you? Or that you have an actual right to give your option, and for adults to listen and take it seriously? These may seem like little things that many people take for granted, but they’re there to make sure all young people have a decent quality of life, and are protected.
Like so many others I reached a point in my life where I was so preoccupied with trying to find happiness I would have done anything to attain it. It was not that I was sad; it was what almost felt like a profound realisation that no one else had. I felt like I held the truth of the world, and that I being a minister of this truth gave it the justification to let it take over my life.
I knew the truth of reality, and that truth was that we are all alone, that no matter what we only have ourselves to rely on. That is the truth of reality. But so often the truth itself lies and that is the real truth of depression - the truth lies. We ponder these existential questions every single day and it doesn’t seem to bother most, but to a depressive who has nothing but their thoughts, emotions and a distorted reality to rely on these are the single most important questions in which an answer must be sought. This article is not supposed to be an anatomy of depression, but rather a narrative of how I had come to lose my identity and it was in the aftermath of my depression that a new one was forged.
Depression is a profound insight; it is in this insight that we search for meaning in life. In searching for meaning we so often look outwards, yet it’s looking inward to your own experience of trauma where meaning will be forged. You need to recall the tragedy of depression and fold it into a powerful story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you came to triumph over adversity.
I was 19 when I first had depression; it lasted for over a year. And in that time I lost almost everything, I lost my savings, my confidence, my romantic relationship broke down, I lost friends, and I almost lost my life on one occasion. I did not understand what was wrong with me, even though close friends pleaded with me to seek help I did not. Instead it festered and lingered, and the beast eventually went into hiding after a year. Sufferers like myself, will understand how the mask of appearance can be so tiring. Social settings can be exhausting. I just didn't want to leave my bed.
Two years later I was rejected from two masters courses because of results gained in my second year of college of which 30% went to my final grade. This was the year I was sick. I was in a job that I hated, selling computer software, in a relationship, which was faltering, and living almost alone in an apartment just too far outside the city to walk to it. Time went on, and I fought with myself for just under a year again as I spiraled into a far more suffocating depression at the age of 22 and it too was to last for almost another year.
I remember the day that I really reached out, as a 22 year old I did what anyone would do - I sought the comfort of my mother. I phoned her that day and I said, “Mom, something is very wrong, I am very sick, and I really need to talk to someone."
Over the course of the next few months I was to delve far back into my childhood and face the demons I had avoided over the past few years leading up to that moment. I started to write again, which I had not done since I was 18. I started to paint again, to draw, to express my emotions and deal with years upon years of pain and suffering through therapy.
Halfway through my therapy I stopped taking my medication. I had no semblance of what it meant to be me, and I couldn't help but question whether the medication I was taking was making me more like me, or forging a new me with medication.
I applied for college once again and while I waited for the yes or no, I also worked on getting the cap on my grades from second year over turned. I spent a year correcting the damage that the 19 year old me did to himself. But I forgive him for that.
In my depression, I tried to forge meaning from it, and it shaped me as a person. Depression helped to shape my personality today and I am forever grateful for it. I worked to build a person from almost nothing after it broke me down over the course of 3 years and I finally sought help. It was in working from the inside out, rather than the outside in which I had tried to do on many occasions, that changed my perspective on everything as I had tried to do so many times.
It made me realise that despite the hardship I had to endure, it allowed me to treat a sickness within me that would have got worse had it been left untouched. Of course, I am not saying that depression is a good thing since it is quite the opposite. Rather what I am saying, is that if we can try to realise that there is a reason for it, then you can try to get better.
It is through adversity that we shape our identity, and meaning comes pouring from it. We could go through life without all the confetti filled evenings and strawberry sunshine mornings and still have identity...but we could not forge an identity without our misfortunes.
When you are sick, you are sick. When you are sad, you are sad, and when you are melancholy then it’s ok to be so. It’s important to accept that negativity in your life and try to learn something from it. On the other side of it now, I am back in college and I have had depression and I am still here.
When I opened the acceptance email from my University, I sat on a chair outside where I read it and instantly I began to weep. I cried because after 4 years of fighting a depression I had finally corrected at least some of the damage it had caused. It was in those moments as I wept, that I became thankful for the experiences that had shaped me and shaped this moment. I was thankful for the times I felt impossibly tired because it made me stronger. I was thankful for the times I felt unable to deal with life, because it made me more resilient, and I was thankful for the time that my life almost ended, because it has allowed me to turn a grim story of depression, into a narrative of strength, insight, and triumph over adversity.
I realise I am in a privileged position and I do not fear another episode of depression but nor do I welcome it. It has become a cornerstone of my understanding that I will learn something from it. And although it will be tough, I will come out the other side of it. It would be impossible for us to go through life experiencing torment and lamenting depressive episodes if it had no meaning for us. With meaning we can endure great pain if we can just see that it has a purpose. As students of adversity we need to retell the trauma of depression, fold it into a story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you have come to triumph over your own personal adversity.
This one has been requested by A LOT of people, so our next quiz will be the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Table Quiz. Featuring questions from all three Lord of the Rings movies and the two Hobbit films that have been released so far.
The questions will be taken from the movies (get those extended edition DVDs out) so better get re-watching. This quiz will be a really great night and help to raise vital funds for SpunOut.ie.
We will have six question rounds, one picture round and a video round. These are some of the best films of the last 25 years, so it should be a great night.
Tuesday, November 4th at 7:00pm sharp.
D2 | Nightclub, 60 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2
Please note this quiz is for people aged 18 and over due to the premises.
You can book your tickets below or show up on the night. For most of our quizzes we sell out so booking online is advised. Tables are €24 + eventbrite's booking fee. This event will sell out, so buy your table now while you still can!