Ready. Set. Sail!
I want to apologize first off for this taking so long. It was a communication error on my part and I deeply regret not taking care of it sooner. I feel absolutely awful but I want to make sure that people out there understand that I stand committed to my promises. Sorry everyone!
1.) Aidan, let’s start off with a quick bio of your upbringing. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Anything interesting in your childhood?
Hi Jess, Thank you very much for this opportunity. I am delighted to be featured in the Bipolar Compass. I was delighted to win the award. As you know, I read all your blog entries and comment quite frequently. I follow your story closely and I am fascinated by your honesty and how raw and real your blog consistently is.
I was born in Dublin(the Capital of the Republic of Ireland), I was due to be born on New Year’s Day, my habit of being late was ever-present and I was born on 4 January! I should have been born on 1/1/80. (I could have been the first baby of the century in Ireland)
I grew up in South County Dublin near the mountains where I had one brother and one sister, both significantly older. I was very shy and quiet, but I enjoyed living in my own mind (talking to myself!) and writing pieces and keeping diaries and going on “secret missions” in one of the many woods and parks and quiet areas that surrounded our family home.
2.) So on that note, was there anything in your childhood that stood out as obvious mental illness or behavioral disorders with you or your family? Basically, were you ever exposed to mental disorders as a child?
There is absolutely no history of any known Mental Illness in my family (and I looked quite far back). I have one brother and one sister as mentioned. No Mental Health Issues. My mam was what we would call a homemaker (brought up the kids and kept the house and everything in order) My dad had a strong career, working for 40 years for the same organisation, from a junior manager to the very top, as a Principal. The only thing I can think of (as a chid), was having some tics, like blinking or nodding a little. It’s enough to stay with me and I have mentioned it to the vast number of Consultant Psychiatrists I have seen.
Regretfully (and one reason I am late returning this, Jess) is I am processing and coming to terms with CSA (Childhood Sexual Abuse) This happened at 14 years of age. It was something I tried to hide, but as you’ll see below there were chaotic consequences and Mental Ill-health from this.
3.) You mentioned in your About Me page, aside from your long list of qualifications for managerial positions, that you like to read about Psychology. What kind of things draw your attention?
I like to think I am well read. I enjoy reading Clinical Psychology, Educational Psychology, Forensic Psychology and especially Psychopharmacology,
The Psychopharmacology in particular interests me as I like to try and balance science with how little we know of the human brain. I like to read and consider Serotonin and Dopamine and how neurotransmitters work in the human brain. I like reading large scale trial results of SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and SNRI’s (Selective Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) and TCA’s (Tricyclic Antidepressants) and Mood Stabilizers and the list goes on! I like to read both sides of the argument against antidepressants!
I like to read The New England Journal of Medicine and am subscribed to various Psychiatry newsletters.
The Forensic Psychology appeals to me as I try to understand why people can do such heinous acts and I am fascinated by how psychologists profile criminals and also how rehabilitation is attempted in high security environments
4.) In your winning article, you recapped the story of your then girlfriend Laura who lost her life to her mental illness back in 2008. How do you cope with her loss? Are things somewhat easier with the passage of time?
Yes Laura passed by suicide on 08.08.08 and that’s a date I cannot ever forget.
I used to be a very heavy drinker (more on that below) I was away from Ireland in an island off Spain on this date. I hadn’t intended going, as Laura liked me close by her and vice versa, but she insisted I go away for once without her. I won’t ever get over missing a call at about 1040AM. I was flying home 08/08. Being honest, I was too hungover to know where my phone was, I barely knew where I was, so thus there was no chance of me answering that telephone call. It pains me as her phone records show I was the last person she called. I guess I will have to live with that guilt forever.
In terms of coping with her loss, I regret to say, I turned to alcohol and would have typically 80 drinks a week and I also went into six figures on my gambling losses. I also developed Prescription Drug addictions and (to my shame) started to shoplift and speed and also developed a sex addiction. Essentially I was engaging in dangerous behaviour.
I was able to beat my alcohol problems. They had started before Laura and they ranged from the year 2000-2010. I haven’t had a drink since 2010.
I was able to beat my gambling problem. Gambling cost above the six figure sum.
I was able to beat my benzodiazepine problems.
I was able to beat my pain medication problems.
I was able to beat my sex addiction.
Are things easier with the passage of time?
Yes they are Jess. I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy what I have been through. It’s unimaginable. I do believe it’s a miracle, I am here, Jess
The last 8 years has been hard, very hard. I lost who I loved. This ;past summer I ended up in hospital on two occasions (my first ever in-patient stays) and they have changed me greatly
(This hospital is very small with 10 private rooms and was very easy going, so I enjoyed break from life in en-suite rooms and with great food and great walkways and WIFI!)
They had a couple of excellent professional therapy sessions daily.
I don’t know about religion, so I don’t know if I will ever see Laura again. I would give anything in my life for just a few minutes with Laura. I love her more than life and I always will.
I won’t ever meet another girl. I don’t want to. I have had 2 suicide attempts, but there won’t be a third, I am going to live my life in her honour.
5.) How did End The Stigma start? When?
This was an idea I had for a long time. It started on New Year’s Day 01.01.16. It embarrasses me to look back at my early entries, but it has grown and has good analytics. I hope Jess, you will improve those analytics!
There has been an increase in Suicide and self-harm across the island of Ireland. The more I looked and the more I read, I saw more and more evidence of a country in crisis and with high rates of suicide and self-harm. The statistics (in Ireland) for known Suicide, reported Self Harm and estimated Self-Harm are 525, 9,500 and 60,000 respects.
I feel Ireland is unique. A lot of people think the Irish are very happy and enjoy a drink and a “bit of craic” Regretfully the drink is known to many of us as the “Demon Drink”.
I always feel a shiver when I hear a tourist in Dublin city mention the Pubs full and the stories of everyone enjoying a lot of drinking.
Unfortunately, Ireland has a massive alcohol problem and this shouldn’t be kept secret from tourists any longer.
In my opinion – There is a huge stigma which renders people less able to manage with the pressures of living
In my opinion – Irish society is ruled by an obsession with social media, appearance, status and wealth – but one, which doesn’t have any real emotional IQ.
I started my website, with my own money and the aim was to have very regular posts and guests on ending the stigma directly and indirectly. By the latter I mean I have tried to touch every Mental Health Illness there is and we are doing well, we have reached Dissociative Identity Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, two examples.
I have had some big names like Rachel Griffin from ”We have Apples” and #imnotashamed and Sarah Fader from Stigma Fighters and Kevin Hall (Olympic Sailor and Acclaimed author”
It’s important to say I have a large presence on Twitter. At time of writing we are very close to 7,000 followers. I would tweet significantly@endthestigma_ie
(Follow me!)The tweets would be almost exclusively Mental Health based and I have connections with the very best in the Mental Health field.
In less than a year I have reached 19,000, but the quality is there to match the quantity. There are approx. 40-50 accounts that I read each and every day, as I know they cover all the corners of the globe and I won’t miss anything in respect of Mental Health on
Going forward, I am obviously looking at expanding the website further and using Twitter in a more smart intuitive way
6.) Where do you see yourself going with your website? Do you do other things to help raise mental health awareness?
I am expanding at present to “Ask “as in “Ask A Bipolar” , “Ask a Borderliner”, “Ask about PTSD”, “Ask about OCD”, “Ask about PTSD” “Ask about Anxiety” This is where I will work alongside some friends / experts to supply questions that can emailed to me.
I will shortly will start to push out my articles on what I have learnt on the likes of CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) , DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) and simpler and more complex issues.
In 2017, I plan to go forward with speaking more (I have some experience) I plan to talk as much as possible on ending stigma in Ireland, but also further (I am by no way limited to Ireland|) to Europe
I see the website getting bigger and bigger with a Newsletter increasing in size and a Twitter account growing, all for the purpose of strength in numbers and I also see myself using interactive
Media (like FB Video) and / or Periscope to reach my audience with personalized messages.
I see myself talking more and more to well-known Bloggers and Mental Health figures in the media and increasingly getting myself into the medium channels of TV and/or Radio
I see myself looking at other Social Media channels, such as You Tube, Instagram and Snapchat
7.) Any things you’d like to add that I wasn’t able to cover in this interview?
I would like to thank you for giving me the award.
I would like to encourage people to follow me on Twitter @endthestigma_ie
I would also like to add that I appreciate all the people I interact with and I hope they will follow me as I move more to channels like YouTube and Periscope over late 2016 and into 2017
Mental Health should be treated as Physical health is something I endorse.
Finally, Jess, you’re awesome. I love your honesty and your blogs and how you are so frank and open. You’re quite the inspiration. I think you’re ace. I want that to be the end to this great interview.