Aware gave me the tools to deal with my depression
After utilising Aware’s support services herself, Sophie O’Donoghue from Kildare was keen to help others. She signed up to volunteer with the mental health charity last year and works with the online life skills programme.
“I am 24 years old and I have suffered from depression for the past six years. Over a year of that was spent hiding what was really going on with me. I was at a point in my life where I realised that I needed help, but I didn’t want to let my family or friends know how I was feeling. I didn’t want them to think differently of me or feel like they need to tread on eggshells around me.
Eventually those close to me noticed that change. I began to miss camogie training, something I lived for, and stopped going on nights out with my friends. I would have uncontrollable crying fits and some days not even get out of bed. My parents and boyfriend finally sat me down and told me that I needed to get help.
I began a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and was eventually put on antidepressants - it’s only now a few years later I have realised that they probably saved my life.
I also found out about Aware and that its services are fully confidential - you don’t even have to give your real name. I felt that I could be completely honest without the fear of someone I know finding out about my struggles. I opted for the 8-week Life Skills Online programme, where you can work through the material in your own time.
It definitely helped me to understand my thinking process and why I was being consumed by all these negative thoughts. The most beneficial aspect for me was the volunteer that was assigned to help me. Without her, I honestly think I might have thrown in the towel but she kept me motivated. If I had a bad week and didn’t get through much of the content she never judged me. I walked away with tools that I still use, seven years after completing the programme.
I opted to volunteer with Aware at the beginning of last year. It had been six years since I was diagnosed with depression and I was finally at a place in my life where I was happy and healthy. I decided that I wanted to do something to help others in a similar situation to me and I understood that there was a need for younger mental health ambassadors.
I truly believe that by availing of Aware’s services you can make a positive step on the path to a happy and healthy life, no matter what your age of life situation. For me, it is nice to know that for only a couple of hours a week I could be helping someone on their own journey.”
Mental health charity Aware offers support services via email, a phone helpline and groups all over the country. For more information go to www.aware.ie