This year on the 12th May 2018, I took part in the annual Darkness Into Light for the first time. It was the first time it was held in my town. The idea of getting up at 4 am didn’t seem to bother me. I wanted to do it even if I had to walk it on my own but in the end my friend said he would walk it with me.
We woke up around 20 past 3. We started off in our local GAA pitch at exactly 4am. Many people took part in the walk. Everyone was dressed in warm clothing,torch in hand and all were wearing the darkness into light t-shirt to mark the 10 year anniversary of DIL across the world.
We made our way though the town, the bright street lamps leading the way while local volunteers held signs and photographers took pictures of the crowd. At 5am it began to get bright as dawn broke and birds began to sing.
We then made our way back up the hill to the original starting point and were greeted with water bottles, tea, coffee and scones. I got a few protein bars. I was so tired and while I was delighted I had taken part in the walk, I couldn’t wait to get back to bed.
I decided to do Darkness Into Light to help prevent self-harm and suicide and I also did it for me. I suffered from depression to the point where I had suicidal thoughts in 2016. I felt so worthless and out of place that I actually wanted to die. Many people don’t realise that when you are severely depressed,your thoughts control you ,not the other way around.
So when I heard that it was coming up again, I got my wages from the previous weeks work and paid to participate. I was delighted that I was doing something that was not only helping other people but was also helping me.
After recovering from depression, I decided shortly after that I wanted to become a mental health advocate. I was told by a counsellor once about how great the work is that Pieta House do. Although I never went to Pieta House to seek treatment, I do believe that their message is an important one. Prevention of suicide and self-harm.
I believe that together we can spread this message not just in Ireland but across the world.According to a recent article published by the Irish Examiner, Suicide claims 70 school children in one year. That figure is shocking. Young children and teens struggling with mental health need someone to turn to, someone to talk to about their problems but the lack of mental health services here in Ireland is a disgrace and as the suicide rate continues to rise, we sit back and do nothing.
I realise that this is a sensitive topic for many people but this stigma against mental health, suicide and self-harm in Ireland and indeed across the world has got to stop. While there are other charities here in Ireland that you can donate to if you want to,(while it’s a tad bit early) I highly recommend that in 2019 you participate in Darkness into Light in your town/city whether you are walking for you, a friend or for the young/ old people of Ireland who need a helping hand getting out of the darkness of depression and into the light of hope.