The fight against depression and suicide has many armies, one of the most prominent of late being PIETA House, and at a fundraising arts and crafts exhibition in Edgeworthstown I got to help raise awareness and funds by putting in my photos. During the weekend I also got to meet and speak with Labours Agriculture spokesman Willie Penrose and I put in representation to him in favour of Banagher Horse Fair in particular and Urban Horses in general too.
Its strange the topics that cross each other at such an event, and yet they are connected too, with equine therapy an important service in development in America, but alas not availiable here just yet…
I was thinking of Lucy Forster Stack, about whom Id written “Smiles Can Hide a Million Tears“, as I discussed the horse issue with Willie, to whom I have to send an email outlining my suggestions on the issues involved.
Lucy was a famous face in the racing world, and for all the help she got, as she wrote herself, nothing could help her or life her mood. For those of us with freinds and family who may be in this situation, the talk given by John Prendergast was most informative. (His website is www.JohnPrendergast.ie)
The most important thing that he said was suggest, dont force, and never use the word “just”… as in “just get help”, “just get over it” etc.
Function of the Brain
What I got from it was the part of the brain near the middle tries to protect us, tells us everything is dangerous, is bad. The front of the brain gives us decision power, and filters is what the back part telling us is right or wrong.
When we give too much influence to the back part, it uses up the energy from the front part, in particular its glucose supply, starting a chain reaction that is very hard to come out of.
He also explained how people with clinical depression can have their lesions in the affected part of the brain seen on MRI whereas most who just get down and get out of it again dont.
Its hoped to have his talk online and when we do I’ll share it. I dont do it justice and hope I didnt misquote any of it above or in whats written below!
It’s good to talk, and be a listening ear
Slowly, people are learning to talk, and its important to be a listening ear. You dont have to provide the answers, but the moral support you can offer when someone looks for help is second to none.
Its hoped to have a meet and greet office in the Edgeworthstown area, as services in North Longford on a face to face basis are hard to get to for locals.
For those who dont get to sit down and take notice, we cant beat ourselves up about it, but noticing the signs can stop later regrets. A John Prendergast spoke, the song of Dido’s came to mind:
Let us listen, and not have that song to sing…
It would have to be Longford where you go to sell a few photos and get a picture taken with a crocodile, no less… it was very interesting meeting the local artists, and invaluable to network with fellow North Longfordians as Im moving up there soon all going to plan.
I spoke to the viewers about the Banagher Horse Fair, and a lot asked about the picture of the trader outside my old home Babsers in Banagher… telling them the yarn of the Miracle of the Porch and the Window Crisis rose a few laughs, and all agreed on looking at the cottage of Oranmore -about which Id written “Honest Hands Build True” that we have too much reluation and too little ability to create long lasting structures unlike uneducated people years ago.
Talking of the property situation some remarked about those we lost as a result of austerity, with friends of my own coming to mind, about whom Id written Veil Through Which We All Shall Pass, totally avoidable deaths which are linked to but beyond the existing problem of depression and suicide. Its pressure on people for profits of corporations and banks that is fueling that spike in deaths.
The exhibition was organised by Tina Brogan, a Ballinalee woman who had worked on the plasterwork and snagging of St Mels Cathedral after the fire. The fire resonates with me as a result of my own problems in Ballinamuck, and I had written a verse for a freind based on it, as well as Torn Down, Rebuilt, As All Must Be
Tinas art was second to none, a lovely picture of her on a crucifix led to a discussion on how there is three types of art, the aesthetic, the psychological and a third type I cant remember. It can be seen on the video above.
Keeping the Black Dog on the Leash
Winston Churchill was a chronic sufferer of depression, which he called his “Black Dog” which visited him all too often. In the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art I remember a decade or more ago seeing a sculpture of two giant black dogs that drew on that these.
So, how do we keep those dogs on the leash, as its management that makes us cope?
John Prendergast said it was in training to be a therapist at 37 that led to him facing up to the fact that he had a problem, and he credited hypnosis with helping him turn the corner.
John had no family problems, yet his anxiety was crippling leading him upteen times to turn away from a college course due to his mind in the state it was then telling him he would fail.
Now he has come through it and gives talks to others how to and to therapists how to help parients through their problems.
But he said what will work for one person may not work for another. One may need just therapy, another also medication.
In explaining unresolved issues from our past that cause problems, he spoke of the most important question a therapist ever asked of a soldier who had been shot and shot people, and for whom repeated doses of therapy was proving no good.
The question was “Is there anything else bothering you?”
In this soldiers case there was family troubles from when the soldier was a child, which are small when you are an adult, but were major at the age they happened, and when that was teased out and explored he managed to make progress.
So whats causing the problem may not always be the biggest most obvious problems that we think that we are facing.
Exercise, a good laugh and some mindfulness exercises are a solution that he offered too. For those into yoga and such this made a lot of sense, but for traditional Catholics and Protestants who disapprove of Yoga as a practice – and there would be a fair few of them up in Longford and its hinterlands – I felt something more rooted in Christianity might be good to offer or develop to offer.
At the question and answer session afterwards, as no one else was asking questions, I asked him could mindfullness be tailored as a prayerful meditation for those of a Christian background, and he then answered in detail outlining indeed how many found help in prayer, and its an option often forgotten these days.
Once the ice was broken, a barrage of questions were asked which got patient answers from John who stayed on to speak with people afterwards.
The Battle Goes On
The battle goes on, for which all the charities that work in the fields are arrows in the quiver in the war against depression, anxiety and suicide.
Up against one and a half thousand was raised by the event that was held in the Park House Hotel in Edgeworthstown, which is now run by John J. Brady.
The next “Darkness Into Light” is the next major fundraiser for PIETA House, and it will be great if a drop in centre for Edgeworthtown could be opened with friends and counselors to talk to.
Things we take for granted that teenagers pass through such as self harming often last a lifetime. This Id taken for granted as a teenage thing until at a recent family funeral one of my cousins spoke of a neighbour who was self harming in his 80’s as he could not cope with life, and there was no resources for him in the area.
It was at this funeral I had clashed with the woman who argued against the water protesters, and about whom Id written “Anger of the Water Carriers“
There are services in Athlone and in Cavan, but they are a long journey for someone in a bad frame of mind. Something more local is needed, as the foreboding of a long journey can make people change their mind who already are in a state where it is hard to convince them to go at all.
Im sorry I messed seeing Joe Reilly sing, as the Roadsider he has recorded a CD which I hope to get a copy of after losing a teenage child to suicide with a local support group in Longford town. He is a lovely man and a great singer, I watched him sing on a Facebook video after.
I enjoyed looking at the other artists, Lars picture of the waterfall I may buy when Ive cash togther, the bog oak sculptures of Brendan Colum of www.bogoakart.ie are tempting too, and local Ballinamuck woman Caroline Quinn does great slate mounted prints, trading as Whispering Words (086 8607 242).
Clare Kellys art was a sight to behold, and she runs classes in Mullingar. Id need a years worth to get anywhere near her level!
Elaine Moynihan read from her childrens books, as did Sr Rose Moran, whose books I got a copy of. Along with that, there was a visitor from Banagher who gave me a copy of his dads book, of which I had lost a copy in the fire in Ballinamuck. A big thank you to John Madden for dropping it down and dropping in, it is really appreciated.
The kids were really taken with the animals, which along with the crocadile which was my favourite there was a raccoon, two Marmoset monkeys and a lady with her own pet white rat!
A big congrats to Tina for organising the event, which I was delighted and humbled to be a part of. Lets hope its the start of getting services into the rural north Longford area and getting help available local for folk who need it, and remember, this help is there for us too who have folk to help, about the right way to go about it.