Bressie speaks at Ireland’s first Mental health summit.

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Westmeath native Niall Breslin told a major mental health summit of the need to acknowledge their own positives.

Speaking at Ireland’s very first Mental Health and Wellbeing summit which took place in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin, recently, the former Rugby player spoke of the “petrifying internal dialogue” he was tormented by from the age of 13, recounting how he lay in bed at night feeling like a concrete block was sitting on his chest, and how on a school tour he slept on the balcony at night so his roommate would not hear him hyperventilating.

The event on the 14th October, was organised by White Diamonds events and hosted a range of speakers from every aspect of mental health, including doctors, psychologists and nutritionists.

The conference heard how Bressie at age 15, after almost a week without being able to sleep, was so frustrated he broke his own arm and lied to his mother about falling from his bike. While being attended to in hospital he finally summoned the courage to tell the doctor, who replied “it’s only puberty”.

He recalls that this was the most infuriating, disheartening thing he could have heard. It crushed him and made him feel even more alone.

Losing faith in doctors he decided to take control over his own health. Instead of lying in bed unable to breath, he would run. Every night, without fail, a panic attack would start, and he went for a run. When he returned home he slept. The first time he awoke from a full night’s sleep he was in disbelief; it had been so long. Shocked, delighted and surprised, he resolved at that moment that exercise was his road to recovery.

He decided to give his mind a name, Jeffrey, which, he said, afforded him a level of control and helped him detach himself from the negative thoughts.

“I hit rock bottom when I moved to London. I became addicted to sleeping pills. Addiction is another issue handled very badly in this country. After what was possibly the worst day of my life I was offered a job on ‘The Voice’. The first thought that ran through my head was ‘I’m going to have a panic attack on live television’.”

He felt he no longer had the energy to run away, to disguise, to be beaten. He realised that this was what prompted him to speak out, to raise awareness and let others that are suffering know that they are not alone.

He now visits schools, talking to teenagers about mental health and the importance of not isolating yourself. “Concentrating on the youth of today is so important because they are the future. The stigma must be removed.”

His programme, “Teenage Kicks”, provides a musical opportunity for disadvantaged teenagers. He believes it is absolutely essential that we empower teenagers and build their confidence instead of constantly telling them “no”.

I asked him what would he say to his 15 year old self: “I’d say that this is immensely normal. You may feel isolated and alone but more people than you know are going through it too. I’d also say don’t allow anyone to define you, not a parent, teacher, peer. You define yourself.”

When I asked him how he would advise families who are trying to support a teenager who won’t drop their barrier? “Open the door, plant the seed, keep it in a middle ground. If you approached somebody and asked how is your I.B.S they would tell you to bleep off, this is the same. Start with yourself, tell them when you’re not having a good day. Or strike up a conversation about something you heard on the radio or on TV but keep it general. It’s personal and respect that. Open the door and let them walk through it when they are ready”.

“We need to embrace self-congratulating. We are constantly beating ourselves up. As Irish people we can’t even accept compliments from others let alone ourselves, but I started to do it. I gave myself credit when credit was due. It’s so important to acknowledge the positives just as we do the negatives.”

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Made to be monogamous??

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” The body sins once and has done with its sin, for action is a mode of purification. Nothing remains then but the recollection of a pleasure or the luxury of a regret.”- Oscar wilde.
Quite a primitive theory? To allow ourselves act on the desires of basic instinct? Not a system a civilised society would employ? Is that the problem though. We live in a society that takes pride in how far removed we are from our ancestors. We consider our way of life to be much more “sophisticated” but are we denying ourselves to our own detriment? The orchestrators of our own downfall?

I am of the age now where wedding invitations from friends seem to be flooding in the letterbox. When mentioning having received an invite to my best friends wedding recently to my Mother she asked “could you see yourself doing it?” I answered honestly and said i didn’t know. The question lingered with me, and led to this article. 

Having spent my twenties Intermittently involved in romantic affairs. Some frivolous fun some memories that will be treasured forever despite how things turned out. If I had been told in the past how things would turn out I would have laughed and said not possible. See that’s the thing, anything is possible and when it comes to risk  nothing is a greater variable than our needs and wants as we grow older.

 “Fairytale wedding” and “shotgun wedding”. They are the only sayings I can think of surrounding weddings. Fairytales are stories we tell niave children, they are not based on real life. Shotguns are weapons used to kill. So condensing those sayings to one word each your left with “dillusional” and “duress”.

The word luxury is not usually associated with the word regret. When we think of luxury it conjures up images of great satisfaction. While the word regret, is associated with bad decisions, and sometimes the feeling of guilt. Is that fair though? 

 Its a punitive system either way. If we want something that’s regarded as “forbidden” and we refuse then we sentence ourselves to the torture of forever thinking “what if”. T.S Elliot told how the road we never travel always leads to a happy ending in our minds. ” Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage which we did not take, towards the door we never opened into the rose garden”. If  we “break the rules”, if we indulge in what we want during that moment. We are then “guilty” and should forever feel remorse for taking what we wanted.

 In this artificial way of existing we are governed by fear. The fear of what others think and the fear of what we think we should think ourselves. We are “wild at heart but kept in cages”, the horrible irony is these are cages we build for ourselves. Oscar Wilde highlighted the importance of remembering rules are man made; ” The mind grows sick with desire for what it’s monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.” Studies show that 60% of men and 45% of women cheat. Affairs affect 1/2.7 couples. That’s almost 1/3rd!  Monogamy is a structure put in place by society to provide order but it is not necessarily one that is performing successfully.

Perhaps acceptance of our nature, figuring out how people can raise children in a society that is not monogamous would be better? Working with what is natural rather than trying to force the unnatural? 

I agree that action is a mode of purification, to “get it out of your system”. Surely it is a far greater deceit to forever wish you had slept with someone without your partner knowing of these thoughts than to sleep with a person and continue in your relationship? A physical act of passion does not deduct from a loving relationship with a far deeper connection. If marriage is to be based on trust and honesty then the first truth to be acknowledged is that we will inevitably be attracted to others during our marriage. We can remain emotionally faithful whilst being sexualy active with others. The question is are we comfortable with that.

Marriage, considering the statistics on how often terms and conditions change….will you say I do?

Anne Lovett, still asked to keep somebody’s secret.

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This week every person in Ireland was shocked and deeply saddened when it was reported that a Father had killed his wife and three young children in a murder suicide. Gardai announced the weapons used were a knife and a hatchet. Hearts broke all over the country upon hearing what had happened to those little children, murdered by there father while dressed in there night clothes. What happened in their home that night nobody will ever understand. It is unbearable to even imagine how afraid they must have felt. When I heard of what happened I was reminded of a letter I found but have not known what to do about.

I then spent the evening watching a documentary I looked up featuring Christy Moore. He speaks about how disgusted he was at the response to the untimely death of Anne Lovett. While listening to him I resolved that I would share this article, the subject matter of which has haunted me. An article I have approached many local publications about too but none expressed interest in it. I have been torn as to what to do or whether I should do anything. With the tragic news of those poor children’s death and the sadness that swept the nation I couldn’t help but think, why was Anne not mourned in the same way? She was only 15. Yet when Gay Byrne read the headline about her death on the late late show he remarked “not much there”.

In 2016 to be a woman is no longer to be a second class citizen. We vote, we have equal rights, women are celebrated. Mother’s day, International women’s are dates where we take special recognition of women. Acknowledging there value. However this is a very different era to the one Anne lived in. Anne was a school girl who suffered a tragic and preventable death. Lying alone giving birth in a grotto on a cold dark evening on the 31st of January 1984 she too would have felt scared. Anne’s baby would be around the same age as I had he lived. if circumstances had been different they too would be celebrating Mother’s Day and International women’s day. Then it dawned on me that for Anne, being a woman and then a mother was not something she ever enjoyed. For Anne, being a woman and a mother was the cause of her death. 

I felt compelled to acknowledge her, ironic as so many had failed to do so during her lifetime. I visited Granard, her home town. I am not religious but succumbing to custom I stopped off to buy a small bouquet of flowers and decided to visit Anne’s grave. I searched all over, eventually locating it down the back of the cemetery. She is buried with her baby, her sister and her father who passed away 3 years after her death from a stroke. Her grave is one that requires minimal maintenance. 
I noticed a piece of paper had been placed in a glass bottle and tucked in the corner of the grave. I assumed it would be a prayer. Curiosity led me to read it thinking this young girl was so neglected and failed by all, what words would they place on her grave to reconcile themselves with that!  However what I opened was not a prayer, it was a letter. A letter to Anne, signed with an illegible signature dated from two years ago, the 30th anniversary of her death. Illegible to me but there are handwriting experts. It reads 

“Anne, 
I’m back to visit you again, This time I need your help to let this go. I want to lay it to rest now. I pray to you to look out for me in this. I pray that nobody gets hurt. That all I want now is no more hurt.

Thank you for helping me- I know you are near me at this time-I feel your presence and was drawn back to Granard once again.

Rest in Peace Anne – it’s been 30yrs for you and for me.”

It was not the heartfelt nostalgic tone I expected. on the contrary, I found it to be almost offensive to her. She is not addressed in a friendly manner but rather a harsh summons. My personal interpretation found the tone of the letter to be quite selfish and demanding. Phrases such as “I need” and “I want”. Considering Anne’s needs and wants were so despicably neglected I thought it quite audacious of the author to make requests. The author can also appear arrogant and presumptuous “thank you for helping me”. My reason for writing this article however is not because of how I interpreted the letter, my reason for making this letter public is for one sentence it includes; “I pray that nobody else gets hurt”. This sentence suggests the ripple effect of Anne becoming pregnant may not have stopped with her death but has potential to cause further destruction. Was this written by an abuser? Was it penned by a religious God fearing man having spent his life mistreating kids now in old age is frightened of meeting his maker? Is this the plea of a predator to his victim to forgive his sins so he shall be granted an eternity in heaven? Is the final line which empathizes with her “it’s been 30 years now….” But also selfishly tells her he was involved too “…for you and for me”. Perhaps the writing of a person in a habit of controlling her. 
Or is this written by the father of Anne’s baby but not a child molester. A person who was a frightened teen that was too afraid to come forward at the time? Anne was under the age of consent but maybe he wasn’t. Perhaps he has carried this emotional baggage for 30 years without telling a soul and is looking to Anne for permission to put it to bed. Perhaps what I interpreted as a stern tone is a practiced tone removing emotion from a painful memory. It is possible he has decided to confide in his wife, kids or partner about what happened all those years ago and hopes it will be understood. “I pray that nobody gets hurt”.
There are numerous ways to read this letter but I feel it is a letter that should be read by the public. If it is written by a man who fathered Anne Lovett’s baby with her consent but was too afraid to come forward amidst the media frenzy then I hope he finds happiness. I believe he would have been as much a victim of ‘holy catholic Ireland’ as Anne was. However if it is written by a sexual predator who inflicted pain and tortured Anne, then he should be held accountable. Allowing him to escape by writing a letter when he is facing death in old age would be yet another insult to the memory of this young girl. Perhaps I am completely wrong and the author is not the father of Anne’s baby. Is it somebody who went through a pregnancy that people refused to acknowledge. As was not uncommon at that time. The ambiguity of this letter adds yet another layer of mystery to the tragic tale of Anne Lovett.
Anne’s death was and remains to be shrouded in mystery. In a town of barely 1000 people how could a 15 year old girl from a family of 9 siblings have kept a full term pregnancy secret? Indeed Anne’s entire life is cloaked in secrecy. Her birthday is not known, pictures of her can not be found, and of course the biggest secret of all, who was the father of her baby? 
The young girl and her newborn baby had already been buried when an anonymous caller notified the Irish tribune about what had happened. We can only assume he wished to conceal his identity for fear of been shunned by locals of the town. Reporters who flocked to Granard to investigate were met with an impenetrable silence. A silence that has never been broken.
The symbolism that can so effortlessly be attached to the grotto where she died is dark and disturbing. Alone and undoubtedly scared Anne fled to a place outside of her hometown. Away from everyone, isolated. There she lay down near a kneeling statue of Mary Magdalene that lies beneath an elevated statue of the Virgin Mary to whom she is praying. Irrespective of whether this was intentional, unlikely that it was, Anne felt her place at that frightening time in her life was beside a saint that had been shamed and shunned for sexual activity. Instead of surrounding herself with friends or family in a safe place, Anne felt alone in a grotto was where she belonged. Aligning herself with Mary Magdalene, Magdalene defined as “a public sinner”. Having just commemorated the 1916 rising this year let us not forget it is also only 20 years since the last Magdalene Laundries was closed.
Speaking at a ceremony to pay tribute and commemorate all those women who were horrifically victimized in those laundries Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou Mc Donald asserted “… The instincts of the state is to play down the significance of what happened, this is not good enough. What we need is the truth.” The truth of Anne’s death has never been revealed. Garda investigation presented no conclusions, although the department of Education and midlands health board held investigations no findings were ever disclosed to the public.
I was shocked and disgusted that the place of this young girl’s death does not feature any symbol of recognition of Anne or her baby. No plaque, no cross, no trace. Did people know of her pregnancy, is it a horrific injustice against a young girl that the entire town could have helped? Was Anne failed by a community who chose to “mind their own business”? Anne’s family have never spoke out, her mother Patricia and brother Niall still reside in Granard but refuse to talk. Anne’s younger sister, 14 years old, committed suicide less than three months after Anne’s death. People then began to speculate whether it was the girls own father who fathered Anne’s baby and perhaps her sister could not deal with the abuse alone. If this is true then why has her mother and siblings not exposed him for what he was. Perhaps at the time they lived in fear but when her dad passed away why not expose him? 

All these years later she is still been robbed of her dignity. Do her family or neighbours know the answer?  Her father?  A brother? A teacher? A priest? A guard? A customer of the pub her father owned? Did they suspect and do nothing? There are numerous possibilities. Somebody somewhere knows the answer, did she die giving birth to a baby conceived in rape, and if so who killed Anne Lovett? Is it the person who signed the letter?

Making a criminal, an Irish victim.

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Steven Avery has become a household name after the Netflix show “How To Make A Murderer”. The documentary series based on Avery’s fight for freedom, following a wrongful conviction, arrested the attention of viewers. The fact that a man was incarcerated for 18 years despite hard irrefutable facts, discrediting and ultimately disproving the prosecution’s case, has shocked and appalled viewers.
Stephen Avery’s nephew Brendan Dassey has just recently had his murder conviction overturned. Proving they do get it wrong. Sadly, such miscarriages of justice and lack of conviction integrity is not so rare. Innocent people fall victim to fallible judicial systems on a daily basis all over the world. Last year saw a record number of 58 homicide defendants exonerated in the U.S alone.

I studied Law in college and volunteered with “The Irish Innocence Project “. Having recently read of Stephen Avery’s nephews murder conviction been overturned, I was reminded of the case of an Irish family that has been ongoing since 2010. 

I decided to find out how the case was going. Remind people that this is not just a TV programme, it happens all the time and sometimes right on our doorstep. If one reader learns of the I.I.P having read this blog post than it will have been worthwhile.I spoke with Julie Marku, the wife of Mark Marku,who insists he has been wrongly convicted in Greece. 

Julie Marku from Rathvilly Co. Carlow had planned to travel to Greece to support her husband in his appeal before the Supreme Court in March.However The Marku’s were informed just two days before Julie was scheduled to fly that the case had been adjourned due to strikes in Greece. The delay was estimated to last from at best 2 weeks or extend for as long as 6 months. The date was later confirmed for the 10th of January 2017. Almost a year long wait!!Imagine how long a year feels in prison for an innocent man? Now imagine how long a year feels in prison for an innocent man in a foreign country?

Julie, was disappointed but not shocked at this further set back. She told me ” Two days prior to the scheduled date for the supreme court hearing it was confirmed that the strike would continue and Mark’s hearing would be postponed.For all of us it’s a case of deja-vu where the goalposts continue to be only a mirage. Mark and I have learned to try to emotionally detach ourselves from the legal process and are focused on our future in order to survive these continued disappointments.”

Julie met her now husband, Mark Marku, in Greece on a working holiday in 2007. They married in 2009. The couple were not afforded a very long honeymoon period, as Mark was arrested on the 16th of September of the next year.

” At the time of Mark’s arrest I had a very naive understanding of how the justice system in Crete operated. Like most people I expected that their purpose was to detain and convict criminals and protect good people however I have since learned that being innocent is probably the most dangerous position to be in when caught in this fishnet. Time and time again we stood up and spoke the truth and it didn’t make any difference, Mark’s fate was decided the day he was arrested.”

Mark was convicted of seven armed robberies of jewellery stores, two accounts of burglary and theft of private homes and six accounts of car theft. Sentenced to 18 years in prison, Marku maintains he never committed the crimes and claims he is a victim of wrongful conviction.

Alarmingly, no credible evidence has ever been produced to link Marku to these crimes. On the contrary, expert reports on eyewitnesses and D.N.A evidence disproves the bulk of the case against him. Key to the prosecution’s case was DNA found on a rubber glove allegedly discovered in a stolen car on the 5th of June 2010. Disturbingly, the DNA report was dated after the book of evidence had closed. Top American DNA experts have cast doubt over the evidence, asserting there was a mixture of DNA found on the glove, which could be a match for more than 100,000 people in the USA, more than 500,000 in Europe and he estimated that if Greece had a DNA database it would be over 1 million in Greece.

Marku was allegedly severely beaten upon arrest when he refused to offer information. Having endured hours of abuse he signed a document that was written in Greek, a language he had a limited conversational knowledge of but could not read or write.He claims he signed this under duress.

Apart from its questionable DNA evidence the prosecution’s case consists of eyewitness identification of raiders wearing balaclavas and fully clothed from head to toe, claiming to be able to identify Mark and the other defendants by body shape and size. While on the other hand Mark’s defence includes affidavit evidence, including a sworn statement from Aer Lingus placing Mark mid-flight for one robbery and in Ireland for others. This affidavit is supported by employment records and affidavits from Mount Wolseley Hotel in Tullow where he was working when two of the robberies took place as well as other sworn statements, state records and passport stamps that also place him in Ireland at the time of other robberies.

Marku is one of more than 400,000 Albanians who migrated to Greece during the 1990s, and David Langwallner, (my old lecturer who was kind enough to speak with me) is founder and director of the Irish Innocence Project. The Irish Innocence project are working on the case, spoke of racist toxicity pervading the courtroom during his previous appeal.

Greece has one of the highest rates of prison overcrowding in Europe and in its annual report of 2013 Amnesty international labelled prison conditions there “inhumane and degrading”. Throughout his fight to prove his innocence, Marku has been living in appalling conditions, leading to his contracting scabies. He had to change his bed sheets and towels daily and at his own expense, as prisoners must pay for ‘extras’, even including hygiene products. Suspicious deaths of both prisoners and prison guards is an indication of how dangerous an environment he is living in.

The couples future is very uncertain. At the time of speaking to Julie she told me;

” We very much wish to return to our home in Ireland however the decision to grant Mark a visa is still under review after almost four months and is unlikely to be ready in time for his parole hearing. This is causing both of us untold stress and the delay will jeopardize our chances of a safe future in Ireland.”

I wish Julie and Mark the best of luck in January and all those other people fighting for justice who are not highlighted by Netflix. Check out the “Irish Innocence Project” website or on Facebook to see just how many cases of this happen everyday! Unfortunately in today’s judicial system a person who is convicted of a crime is not always a person who committed a crime.

Why everyone needs a flask on Sundays….

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Wakening up Sunday morning after celebrating my friends birthday the night before was far from pleasent. My mouth was as dry as a desert, my head was throbbing, my face covered in yesterdays makeup with today’s shame all over it! I cringed as I Remembered the fact that my friend and I had been the only two on the dancefloor at one point ( when I dance I look like Bambi learning to walk…..on ice!!). I peeled myself from my bed and made my way to the kitchen. A painful journey motivated by my desperate need of water!
” Breakfast at Tiffanys”, and ” The little Mermaid”. These are the movies that served as punctuation for my day. My curtains were closed the entire time and I only used my phone once…..to order food. I was alone in the house and it was perfect. Sitting on the couch in my jammies eating coco pops had a similar feel to those Saturday mornings as a child where we would watch cartoons early downstairs as our parents had a lie in. Those saturday mornings as a kid felt great because every other day I had to go to school. On a Saturday I Didn’t have to think about anything. Just like my scruffy Sunday, I didn’t have to think.

Holly Golightly, an endearing socialite with almost childlike innocence. A charecter played by the beautiful Audrey Hepburn was the perfect lady to spend my morning with. The theme song of the movie ” Blue moon”, a timeless classic adds to the charm of the 1961 romantic comedy. I’m a girl who adores rom-coms, “my bestfriends wedding”, “how to lose a guy in ten days” but none compare to the elegance of this movie. Watching it I couldn’t help but compare how dating has changed. That type of poetic romance seems to have disappeared. Oscar Wilde once humbly spoke ” would you be in any way offended if I said that you seem to me to be in every way the visible personification of absolute perfection?” I don’t think il stand alone when I say that line would make a girl melt. Its definitely better than a message on tinder that reads ” your gorgeous babes”. Nowadays everything is so easily ascertained; fast food, fast delivery of almost anything we want online, fast sex! We’ve forgotten that sometimes it’s worth a wait. A homecooked meal is tastier than a takeaway and a real connection, a romance, is better than an easy ride!

At the end of ” Breakfast at Tiffanys” my hangover was still at its peak. I realised that surviving this headache was not going to be an easy feat. So I done what any seasoned hangover victim would do, I made a flask of tea. Yes flask! This little trick removes the annoying trips to the kitchen. I returned to my cave with my flask, chocolate chip cookies, 7up (both hot and cold drinks are necessary) and a bar of hazelnut chocolate. This chocolate bar, wrapped in a green wrapper can only be found in Aldi stores. The name of the bar now escapes my mind. It is so good that it would definitely feature as dessert in my last meal before I die wish list.

My next movie was ” The little Mermaid”. One of my favourite movies ever. Your never too old for Disney and once again the soundtrack is fantastic! Anybody who knows me will already be aware of my obsession with the song “part of your world”. I lay on the couch in the foetal position munching on all the goodies I had carefully placed within arms reach. My headache was subsiding and I was beginning to feel a bit better. Don’t jump to conclusions though, I still had no intentions of moving. It was by then more about indulging than recovery. I was enjoying a scruffy Sunday! That’s what they are, scruffy. Bed head hair, make up from the night before smudged across your face as you pig out in your pj’s all day. And pig out is what I did. My far from nutritious Sunday dinner was a pizza and wedges from Domino’s. I of course ordered the amazing hot cookies too. The disgust I’d felt the night before while pouring myself into my dress I temporarily forgot as I let the hangover hunger take over. I apologised to the delivery guy for my appearance as I bashfully took my food from him. Consoling myself that there has to be more like me. Girls that decide a hangover is a day off. No participation in adulthood should be expected when in such a fragile state. Move as little as possible and eat as much as possible.

I concluded my day with a bubble bath. Surrounded by candles listening to Hoziers album I felt cleansed of my laziness. I threw my fear of how foolish I looked on the dancefloor out with the bathwater. I dressed in fresh pj’s and drifted off into a deep relaxing slumber. Monday morning I awoke to the familiar sound of my dreaded alarm. A harsh call back to reality. Commitments, work to be done and I done it. As for sluggish sloppy scruffy Sunday…..im not even sorry, I enjoyed it! Looking after yourself now and then is not selfish. Make sure you have a flask.

Toddlers Teach

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It’s infectious! The sound of a toddler laughing! It doesn’t matter why they are laughing, when you hear it you giggle. Similarly the sound of a child crying arrests your attention. Where we are and what we’re doing is irrelevant, every time, without fail, we notice! The intriguing part is why? Why are we distracted so easily by people we don’t even know? The answer is obvious, we care! We are programmed to notice, it is for this very reason the human race has survived so long. Children are vulnerable, so when they act we react. Basic instinct takes over and we revert back, subconsciously to primitive behavior. The baby who cries the loudest will be attended to first – survival of the fittest!

Children do not suppress emotions. When the are happy they laugh and they laugh loudly. When they are sad they cry and they cry with conviction. This is why perhaps an hour spent in a crèche would be more beneficial to our mental health than a day in college. Kids give expression to every impulse. As adults we deny ourselves that right. I use the word “right” here with careful consideration. It is a basic human right to be happy and whether we like to admit it or not just as children need help from others, so too do adults. We are ever evolving social beings. Constantly facing new challenges. Challenges that we are not always well equipped to deal with alone. We’ve all heard the proverbs; “no man is an island”, “it takes a village to raise a child”, yet in times of difficulty, when we are really struggling, when we really need people, this is often when we tend to isolate ourselves the most.

Somewhere along the journey of growing up we figure out how to grow apart. We lose sight of the importance of tears and the purpose they serve. Tears at 40 are just as significant as tears at 4! More so! By then we have developed coping strategies. We’ve learned how to deal with stress. So for a situation to penetrate through that bubble of protection we spend years building it is obviously worthy of concern.

We live in an age of instant contact. Yet with Ireland ranking as the country with the 5th highest suicide rate in the EU it suggests we couldn’t be more distant. We have more means of communication than ever before. We can reach a vast audience all over the world in seconds. Text, tweet, talk, but yet we are unable to tell. Unable to admit we’re not doing so good. We are a generation that has an emoticon for everything, even for having your dinner yet we associate shame and embarrassment with showing emotion. Laugh loudly, act silly, cry when you need to, scream if you want to. You’re no different to anybody else. We’re all cut from the same cloth. We may not have the same problems but we share the same programming! The sight of a tear and the sound of a laugh is a universal language.

Virginia Woolf expressed a desire to ” write a novel about silence, the things people don’t say”. I think it can be summarized in one sentence “I need some help”. The popular singer Florence welsh sings the line “the silence in between what I thought and what I said”. Remove the silence and the stress will leave too. Hold your head high while doing it, asking for help is an act of courage not cowardice!