A DERRYGONNELLY woman has spoken out about her mental health in a bid to remind others that they are not alone and that help is available.
Carol Stubbs decided to share part of her story with the Herald this week as she believes that “everyone” faces their own mental health journey at some stage in their life.
Now Carol is on a mission to diminish the “shame and stigma” that she feels is still attached when speaking out about mental health and suicide here in Fermanagh.
“Speaking from my own experience, those who are deeply traumatised by certain life events consider suicide an option only as a way out of their endless pain and anguish,” Carol explained.
“It is not a weak choice, it’s a choice from desperation and overwhelm. I want people to be more compassionate to themselves and others when facing their own personal mental health journey and I believe we all have one.
“Learning and understanding about these most important topics should be a priority for everyone and only when public perceptions change might those suffering be encouraged to reach out for help.”
Carol who credits the help and support of local agencies for her “personal breakthrough” now wants others to know the importance of asking for help no matter how hard that initial first step may be.
“The hardest thing to do is to ask for help,” she said. “I felt that I was pathetic for being unable to free myself from the tortuous thoughts and pain resulting from years of childhood abuse and traumatic life experiences.
“I have continued to try to ‘sort myself out’ many times throughout my life, in a whole manner of capacities, from spiritual teachings, personal development, medicine, alternative healing modalities and private counselling.
“All of things certainly helped but each time a traumatic life event hit me, I would fall to pieces again and was convinced that life was out to get me.
“On January 6, 2009 in the eye of the storm of my life I sat on my bed retching and crying and just gave up. I experienced a spontaneous spiritual awakening which completely changed my life and the way I understood life.
“I remember I was told so frequently that I was ugly as a child, I completely accepted and believed it. During the first hours of this experience I walked passed a mirror and saw myself as if for the first time and realised I was not ugly but had created this reality for myself by believing I was.
“It is crucial to our health and well-being that we make up our own minds about ourselves and who we are and don’t live by the conditioning of other people and their distorted opinions.
“In 2018/19 life dealt me another couple of monumental blows and I finally decided that I must do something as I could not stand the thought of living even one more minute in my life, mind and body. “I went to my GP in Derrygonnelly, who was extremely understanding and supportive. He referred me to the Adult Psychological Therapies service at the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital.
“I was so lucky. I was given an outstanding Psychotherapist called Paula Finn-O’Connor. She has been hugely instrumental in my recovery and was the first person who managed to break through my defences and make me realise I was not a waste of space but was in fact capable of many things.
“I am currently studying again and Paula was instrumental in me applying for a place on the University of Ulster Certificate in Counselling Studies course through South West College.”
“I also attended Nexus NI in Enniskillen which has helped me to uncover and face the sexual abuse I have endured in my life. I hope that any survivors of sexual abuse please contact Nexus as they have free counselling and support which really helps people to move forward.”
Carol also received invaluable support from the ‘One Friend’ organisation which was created to combat loneliness; Action Mental Health New Horizons, Enniskillen which supported Carol and allowed her to gain new qualifications for free and the ‘Return To Play Sports Medicine’ facility in Derrygonnelly for regular massage therapy which she encourages anyone who has stored trauma in their bodies to avail of.
“I believe we should include spiritual, medical, psychological and physical interventions otherwise we are just putting a plaster over a gaping wound and it’s unlikely to ever heal,” Carol said.
“There are ways out of the darkness and into the light. Start by seeking out help in ways that resonate with you, after all you know yourself better than anyone else does.”
*Contact the National Nexus Office on 02890 326 803 or the website www.nexusni.org.
*If you are feeling lonely or want to experience a positive and supportive network of friends contact the ‘One Friend’ group on 07972 375 795 or 07815 194 032.
*Action Mental Health New Horizons Fermanagh; 028 66323630.
*Return To Play Sports Medicine Derrygonelly; 02868 641 006.
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