One Woman’s Open Letter to Every Election Candidate Is Why We Need To Stop Ignoring Mental Health
*Warning: Due to the sensitive nature of this article, reader's discretion is advised*
With just days to go, the 2016 General Election will ask Irish voters to cast their preference for political representation.
Amongst items such as water chargers, unemployment and a housing crisis, mental health remains one of the biggest, silent killers in Irish society.
One person who knows all about this is Ciara McCullough.
Ciara lost her dad to suicide when she was just one-year old. In an incredible open letter posted to Facebook this morning, Ciara is hoping to bring every candidate’s attention to the people ‘with no voice’ who need urgent help.
‘Before my life even began, I had lost an anchor, I lost a hero. I lost the person who was meant to hold me as I cried, or someone who was meant to help me when I needed it. I lost someone who was meant to teach me how to ride my bike or read me stories until I fell asleep in his arms.’
Unfortunately, Ciara has experienced the pain, fear and isolation of depression and anxiety, being diagnosed with the conditions at 17-years of age. She continues:
‘Depression and anxiety and a huge, huge sense of never feeling good enough took over my body, until I could hardly carry myself, it took over my mind until I felt nothing but pain and mental torture.’
‘It took over my life, ruining my relationships, my friendship and making practically every single person leave. In my head, I wasn't worth staying for, and everyone else who left reassured that feeling until it became so heavy and so hard to cope with that one day, I tried to end my life, to end my pain by taking as many tablets as I could. Two days later when that failed, I drove my car off the road and ended up in hospital.’
Writing her letter, Ciara is concerned about a lack of training in mental healthcare facilities, and that prevention and assistance often comes with a long waiting list:
‘6 weeks later, I got called to see a counsellor, whom I admittedly told that I was ok. And in the 6 weeks that I waited to see them, I had started to feel better. I was lying and she believed it.’
‘Thankfully I was able to speak right when I felt that I could. Thankfully because we could afford it, we went privately and I got to change my mind in 6 counselling sessions.’
Calling for an immediate realistic plan, Ciara writes:
‘I no longer have enough fingers on my hands to count the people I have lost to suicide.’
This is an incredibly powerful first-hand experience – which is personal to more families than just Ciara’s own.
If you or someone close to you is affected by depression or suicide, find more information and support at Pieta House or alternatively, check in with one of these free service groups here for confidential advice.
Read her full post here: