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Hi,my name is Grainne, andI am delighted tobe here talkingtoyoutoday,Iam delightedtohave
beenpartof the app and I wishthe westerntrusteverysuccesswithit.
It’sdifficultforme to identify the start,the middle,the endof myjourneyinto,throughandoutof
depression.The startI am sure is rootedinthe DNA determinedbefore Iwasevenborn,inthe way
my life waswhenIwasyoung,inhow I,Grainne,interpretedall the thingsthathappened,orthat
didn’t.The middle isroughlythe sumtotal of the experiencesIhave hadfrom childhood,andthere
isno end.Our mental healthjourneycontinuesaslongaswe do,and itslegacyisaround for
My earlyfamilylife wasas perfectandas imperfectasanyone’scanbe.We had stuff,like all families
have stuff.There wasno majortrauma,I hada mumand dad whoeachfacedtheirownstruggles
but wholovedme andwhodidtheirbestand I had twosisterswhowere amazing.Deirdre,atom-
boyand feistyashell withit,she protectedusfrombulliesandscarythings.Ciarawas our golden
child,she wasthe image youwill see inyourheadif youpicture the perfectwee girl,she literallyhad
The firstsignificanteventinmymental healthwasthatI tookan overdose atage 13. Thiswould
devastate myfamily,fracture myrelationshipwithmymum, andsomehow give me the message
that askingforhelpwasnot goingto work.Thingswere verydifferentthen, itwas1984. Withouta
doubtthingshave changednow.A 13 yearoldadmittedtoa&e will nothave hisor herstomach
pumpedandwill be offeredhelp.Thisisnottocriticise the care I was given,Iwasattendedwell and
I didhave a psychiatricappointment.There washowever,nosupportofferedtomyfamily,tome,
on howwe wouldgoforwardafter thisevent.We have along,longway to go intermsof reducing
stigmaand changingattitudes,butmyexperience isthatthingsare movingandtheyare movingin
the right direction.
I wouldgoon to discoveracademicsuccess,alcohol,spendingmoney,relationships,aswaysof
distracting,self-medicatingandsoothing,forawhile,the sense of dreadthatI carriedwithme
everywhere.Ithoughtthatthiswaspart of the humancondition,thateveryone feltthis.Itwouldbe
as a 36 yearoldwoman,underthe care of an excellentGP,thatI wouldlearnthatthiswas anxiety. I
was a well-educatedlady,Icouldhave toldyouthe OxfordDictionarydefinitionof anxiety,butin
termsof myown experience,mybrainandmy emotionswere completely disconnected.
By 36 I had a beautiful 8yearolddaughter, I was paidwell formyjob,I travelledinternationally,I
owneda 4 bedroomsemi-detachedhouse andIdrove a sports car. AndI waslivingmyownpersonal
hell.All of these thingsthatIusedtodistract and soothe,theyworkedforawhile.Increasingly
howeverIbattledeverpresentanxietyandlow moods.Iwasconflicted,Iwantedtobe withpeople
and I pushedthemaway,the effortof keepingmymaskinplace was becoming more andmore
difficulttosustain,Idrankmore,mybehaviourbecome erratic,Iwaslonely,Iknew Ineededhelp
and I wantedtoask for it.But I wasterrified,terrifiedof whatwouldhappen.The truthwas,if I
stoppedpretendingtobe the smart womanwiththe career,andthe car, and the travel andgreat
social life,whowouldIbe?Ihad no idea.
On the 12th
March 2007, that all stopped.Thatwasthe dayI just stoppedpretending.Iwill never
forgetit.I woke upand I startedto get outof bed,tobattle anotherday andI startedcrying.And I
surrendered,finally,tothe awfulnessthathadbeengrowinginside me.
That day I receivedmyofficial diagnosisof depressionandadiagnosisof anxietywouldsoonfollow.I
wouldgoon to discoverthatI was pregnantwithmysecondbeautifulbaby,Iwouldlose the career,
the house,the car, the image,myspark,my will tolive.Myamazingmum askedme to move home
and mymum and dadcared for me and raisedmygirlsfor the next3 years. In spite of the difficulties
that me and my mumhad, difficulties thathadbeencementedbythatsuicide attempt,mumwas
my mainsupport.She neveronce toldme to pull myself together,she understood. Iworkedpart
time andI had some daysthat were ok.My familyandmyclosestfriendsare the people whowere
there andcan bearwitness tothose daysthat were notok. I can tell youthatI had givenup,there
was nolightinme,I existedbutthere wasnojoyand I did not believe Iwouldevergetbetter.
Early 2010 broughtyetanothersuicidal crisisforme andthistime there wasa new andawful
thought.I feltIcouldno longergoon. I wasworriedthatmy beautiful youngestgirl wouldnotbe ok
withoutme andas my thoughtstooka terrifyingtwist,Iconfidedinaclose friendthatIwashaving
thoughtsof harmingmy childas well asmyself.Thatfriendmade me anappointmentwithmyGP
and came withme to ensure that I confidedthesethoughts.MyGPlistenedtome calmlyand
seemedsure of whatto doand that I couldbe helped.Iwasreferredtothe primarycare liasonteam
where Iwouldreceive excellentcare,againtheyreactedcalmlyandwithconfidence thatIwouldbe
ok.I receivedall the supportnecessaryandI begancounsellingatZestwitha gentlemancalledGary.
The professional helpthatIreceivedwithinboththe statutoryandvoluntaryserviceswouldbe
pivotal tomy recovery. The ongoingsupportIreceivedfrommyfamilywouldbe pivotal tomy
recovery. Whathappenednext,Ibelievewasessential tomyrecovery.
I wentforlunch.I wentfor lunchwith2 friends.MeraidandRachel.Twofriendswhonevergave up
on me.Andbelieveme,itisnoteasyto maintaina friendshipwithsomeonewhoisexperiencing
depression.Ibelieve itwasStephenFrywhohassaiditis one of the mostdifficultandmostnoble
thingsto do.In the course of thislunch2 suggestionswere made tome.One wasthat I coulddo
somethingaboutwhere Iwasandhow I wasfeeling.The secondwasthatIshouldgo off anddo the
Psychologydegree Ihadchattedaboutfor15 years.That dayI startedto contemplate thatmy
recoverywassomethingIcouldtake intomyhands,and I startedto give shape towhat a life after
depressionmightlook like. IstartedlookingforthingsthatIcoulddo myself,tohelpmyself.Ihave
foundthat these thingsare the simplestandyetthe mostdifficultthingstodo.Theyare concerned
withhowI spendmytime,whatI do forwork,what I do withmyspare time,whatI watch on tv,
whatI do for exercise,whatIeat,howmuchI sleep.Itisnothingthatwe haven’tbeentoldisgood
for our healthbefore,Idiscoveredthatinorderforthese thingstohelp,Ihave to actuallydothem!
Do themrepeatedly.Change myhabits.
4 yearslaterand I can say,withoutreservation,thatmyexperience withdepressionwasthe greatest
giftI have everbeengiven. Thesewere the worstyearsof mylife andIwishnevertorepeatthem.
Whenyoulose everythinghowever,the one thingthatisable tohappenisthat you can completely
start again.I have constructeda life thatisspecificallydesignedtoprotectandmaintainmy
recovery.There are thingsIhave gained,includinganew wayof thinking,anew career,new friends ,
a firstclass honoursdegree inpsychology,aplace ona PhDprogramme and the humilitytoaskfor
helpwhenIneedit.There are thingsI have uncovered,includingmysense of whoIam, my self-
worth,my optimisticnature andmy passions.There are thingsI have lostincludingmyneedto
please everyone,the needforitall tobe perfectalways,fear,andof course,depression.Ihave bad
days,awful thingshappenandIhave days whenIflounder.Justlike everyone else.ButwhatIalways
have nowis the belief thatIcan cope withwhatevercomesmywayand all the new skillsIneedto
Thank youfor listening.