A personal story

This blog is by Trisha O'Neil who volunteered to help at Bearsden Festival as soon as she heard that the theme was mental health.. It's brave to speak up and share personal stories. We hope this helps someone.

Living with a severe alcoholic can become depressing. My high functioning alcoholic was extremely, and life threateningly, addicted to the bottle.

Gradually, I became addicted to his behaviour. My life was distracted, always wondering at what time of the day he would start drinking, or whether or not he would drive with our child in the car. It became overwhelming, and I experienced extreme anxiety and then depression. I hoped, prayed, and pleaded for him to get help, until I realised that I had to help myself first. This, sadly, all led to our family crumbling.

The Al-Anon group helped and meditation helped. Loyal friends helped, but many friends couldn't walk on this difficult journey with me. I fought to stay strong for my children and after receiving counselling, whilst working and studying, and being a mum, I finally felt stronger and more like my old self.

And then, suddenly, within a very brief period of time: the wee dog died, my first grandchild was lost in a miscarriage, and a beloved family member gave up an incredibly hard fought fight with depression, and he took his own life. I was devastated. I started to cry and indeed to wail, - and I could not stop. I cried day and night and could not sleep. Every loss that I had ever experienced seemed to overwhelm me at this time.

Eventually, I received medical care and entered a new phase in my life. I found that my priorities had changed, and I found ways to find inner peace and strength. Surprising to me, one of the ways, was exercising regularly, and another was listening to music that either calmed me or energised me, as needed. Initially, prayer was difficult as it made me want to cry and I avoided church, but, instead I would go for quiet walks amongst the trees and notice the way that nature did not fight the loss of the summer, and that autumn and winter had a purpose and a beauty too.

Gradually I returned to my church community. Finally, I started to advocate for people struggling with mental health challenges - and perhaps this helped me most of all. So, this is why I am supporting The Bearsden Festival and hope that you will too, and, in doing so, find that you are not alone, as I did at my own time of need.

Trisha O’Neil

Al-Anon meetings are held on Fridays at 8pm at Bearsden Cross Church.

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line for anyone in Scotland feeling low, anxious or distressed.

If you have a story that you would like to share, please contact trish@bearsdenfestival.org

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