It is always hard to pinpoint when I became sick. I think there is a slight misunderstanding of people when they are mentally unwell. It is a sickness and a really tough one because usually there are no physical symptoms and can easily go unnoticed by others. I was suffering and it was only getting worse. It wasn’t until I was having panic attacks, one to the point where I passed out, anger attacks, severe OCD (which unfortunately still lingers its ugly head regularly), paranoia and extreme anxiety that I finally knew I needed help. On April 3rd, 2017 I confided in my sister Laura a...
It is always hard to pinpoint when I became sick. I think there is a slight misunderstanding of people when they are mentally unwell. It is a sickness and a really tough one because usually there are no physical symptoms and can easily go unnoticed by others. I was suffering and it was only getting worse. It wasn’t until I was having panic attacks, one to the point where I passed out, anger attacks, severe OCD (which unfortunately still lingers its ugly head regularly), paranoia and extreme anxiety that I finally knew I needed help. On April 3rd, 2017 I confided in my sister Laura and with her love and understanding gave me the courage I needed to tell my mum. I don’t know why but I felt by being depressed I was letting my parents down. I didn’t want to see them hurt by seeing me hurt and that is why it took me so long to tell them. I wish I had the strength to open up sooner because a lot of damage had already been done to my work life, my personal life and my health. Opening up to them it was like opening up all the things I had buried for years end everything seemed to get worse.
A few days later the inevitable happened, I had a panic attack in work (again) and I had to leave. Little stressors and pressure were now completely knocking me. I couldn’t handle anything anymore. A slight stress and I felt like I was being punched in the chest. I just couldn’t cope anymore. I said I was leaving to focus on my music and left it at that. I wasn’t ready to speak out about it, and to be honest I’m still shaking here typing this now over a year later. Not long after that I was asked to leave my rented house and move home. After only just breaking up with a partner of 2 and a half years it was a lot.
I started seeing a Psycologist and that was a big help. It was an hour a week that I could spill my guts, feel like I wasn’t being judged and cry a lot. Me and my dog Harper found a room with my friend Emma and we moved in in June. As much as I love my parents my head wasn’t right and at the time I just wanted to be alone. I think if I didn’t have my dog I would have stayed in bed forever. She gave me a reason to get up in the morning.
It was in June that I noticed my first bald spot on the top of my head. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that my hair was falling out. For me it was a real turning point. My mental health was showing physical signs. The second one came in July and the two of them grew and grew. Eventually after a lot of consideration , with the advice of my Psycologist and GP, I went on anti depressants. I always considered myself Mentally strong before this, but it was like my brain snapped on autopilot sad and I couldn’t turn it back. Overall though I think I handled my hair loss well. Instead of trying to hide it all the time I was quite open about it. Instead of hiding it I would show it. It stopped me feeling self conscious and shy and got it out there and over with. Of course I was met with some comments of ‘attention seeking’. But why would I want attention drawn to my bald head? It was the complete opposite of attention seeking. It was a very lonely time for me. I have never felt so outcasted, ostracised and alone. It was the worst feeling I have ever felt.
Unfortunately more times than I would like to admit my thoughts went to suicide. I am still so angry with myself and admitting this for everyone to see is very very daunting but these issues need to be addressed and more people need to speak out about it. ‘Nobody would care if I was gone’, ‘I don’t wan’t to go on living feeling like this everyday. What’s the point?’, ‘I’m just a burden on everyone around me, everything I do is wrong. They would be better off without me’. Silly silly thoughts but that’s how low and how frightening it can be. Looking back now of course I think it so crazy I got that bad, but more importantly I am so happy that it was just thoughts. Some people aren’t that lucky. In some cases their thoughts become actions. Thought patterns and habits can be changed but action can not. Suicide is the end, there is no going back.
It was time for real changes. I started meditating, yoga, walking, running. Taking care of myself. I went back working. It was at work where I met Martin. I still had bald patches as smooth as babies bums but even though they were not growing back I had worked so hard on myself that I knew I was getting better. From the very start I was honest with him about my mental health issues, my hair, and where I was at with my recovery and from day one he has been so supportive in my progress, my ups and downs, my goals everything else that comes with it. He liked me bald and everything. We started running together and in May we did the Great Limerick Run half marathon together. We have since moved in together (and Harper of course) and are now setting on our Kerry Way adventure. Becoming active again has helped my mental health so much. There is something about being outdoors that is like a reset.
When Martin and I began seeing each other I decided to get a tattoo on the side of my head. There is some reports that irritating the alopecia area can cause the sleeping cells to wake up. On the other side, if it was going to be bald forever it may as well be interesting. I have tattoos already so getting a tattoo isn’t scary for me, but this one was completely different. I have a tattoo for a friend of mine who passed away and that was an emotional one, and an expected emotional one, but this one was completely unexpected. As soon as I sat down I began to cry, and it wasn’t sadness for once, it was an overwhelming feeling of happiness. I was so proud of myself for how far I had come mentally and this tattoo was like a mark of that. It is so hard to explain the feeling. I had the same feeling recently when I ran the half marathon in The Great Limerick Run. I felt happy in myself. Getting that far was so so tough but I pushed myself to find me, and to find my inner beauty and peaceful state of mind. Needless to say the hair didn’t grow back after the tattoo, but I didn’t mind. I even thought about shaving my hair completely because of the growing bald patch but after taking Cellnutrition I am so happy I didn’t.
Believe it or not I have another ailment, I suffer badly from IBS, serious bloat after eating the wrong foods, swelling and feeling very run down and tired. I follow Maeve Madden on Instagram and I saw that she was taking a supplement called Cellnutritio, the hypertonic in the morning and the isotonic in evening. I started taking it for my IBS and I couldn’t believe that within a month my alopecia patches were growing. Alopecia is when the cells are dormant and Cellnutrition must have woken them up. Not only has it helped my hair and my IBS but my moods have levelled off. I can’t recommend it enough. I have confidence again. I have hair again. I am not saying that there is a magic solution to everything, I am sure that if I was still in my bad state of depression my hair would still be gone, but with my recovery and the Cellnutrition it was a perfect combination for me.
I am not saying I am better, what is better? I have my highs and lows, some more than others, but I am more aware of when I am up and down and the reasons why. I know my triggers and I just try to live the best life for me everyday. It is a battle that I am willing to keep fighting. In lots of ways I am grateful for how things went because it has made me who I am today. For the first time in my life I am proud of myself. I am proud of myself for where I was and where I am now.
On Christmas Eve 2014 I lost a friend to suicide. It was a such huge, devastating loss for his family and friends and I think about him everyday. I have seen first hand how suicide can affect so many lives. You think of all the if’s and but’s and why’s but there are never enough answers. That is why we want to do this Trek for Mental health. To try and help those that help prevent suicide. It was so hard for Martin and I to pick who we wanted to raise money for because there are so many amazing people who do such amazing work so we have picked three that are very close to our hearts, Limerick Suicide Watch, Limerick Marine Search and Rescue and Pieta House. We will be hiking and camping The Ring of Kerry, and we want to try raise €10 per kilometre for these amazing causes.
If you have read this far thank you for reading and I hope that me sharing my story and by the two of us doing this Trek and raising some money could help save lives. Thank you so much. Loads and loads of love xxx
Andy, Anita, Robyn & Holly
You the girl!
Well done Maeve & Martin.
Cate O Connor
Well done folks