There is no shame in having a mental health problem

By Qin Ding

“Everybody has a story, everybody has hardships, but it’s what we do with these hardships and how we progress and move forward.”

That’s according to Louise Farrelly, founder of No Beer No Fear Challenge.

No Beer No Fear is a challenge in aid of Pieta house to help people improve their health, make friends, gain confidence and create awareness on the effects of alcohol and mental health issues.

Ms Farrelly said she had been suicidal in a chaotic environment and unstable family.

“I thought throughout the years I had experienced a lot of anxiety and worry but I didn’t realize it. I wasn’t aware that I had so much suppressed emotion that I needed to heal.

“But then at the age of 29, I had a beautiful house, my business and long-term partner. But I was extremely unhappy. That’s when I attempted suicide. I think because I was holding on to so much worry and so much trauma, and they had really impacted my confidence and impression for being able to stay with those things”.

Ms Farrelly said she wanted something as an incentive because she felt like alcohol didn’t really agree with her. She wanted to do something that was going to help her “get on the right track”.

“So I was looking at different groups and there’s one, it’s global, it’s One Year No Beer. I thought that’s a really good idea. I could change things around or take ideas from it and do something myself.”

Now Ms Farrelly shares her experience and works to help people learn healthier coping mechanisms, gain confidence and make simple changes to their lifestyles.

“People need to know that going out and drinking is not a solution, especially when they have anxiety, it’s a constant fear and worry.”

Some people took up the challenge of not drinking for a year.

According to the feedback Ms Farrelly received from others taking the challenge, people are creating healthier, better habits for themselves and feeling more empowered and happier, and their mental health have definitely been managed. Now they have more confidence and become better role models for their families. Their mental health had definitely been managed

“I have had lots of feedbacks, for example, one man in particular said that this was the first Christmas that he wasn’t drunk, and that he didn’t get in trouble with his family.”

However, Ms Farrelly admitted that there are some problems people would face when they joined the challenge.

“I would say that the biggest challenge is going out socializing, because it comes to a point where people can get a bit annoying when they’re drunk. For me, I have changed my environment. I’m trying to meet different people because I’m a different person and I have different interests. So it’s really looking at those habits and asking yourself, is that going to help me, am I going to follow good advice, for example, going out tonight? If people are peer pressuring you, they are not your true friends, because friends should support you in the choices you make.”

This does not mean people should cut off those friendships, they can have a tea or coffee, go for a lunch, go for a walk, instead of just going out and getting drunk.

Ms Farrelly said because of not drinking, she had explored more interests in the past six months.

She loves hiking, walking, cooking, meditation, yoga, music. And she likes spending time with friends and family, like going for teas, coffees, lunches, and exploring Ireland.

“I don’t know if they’re really hobbies, but these are my interests and things that have really changed my life and really give people value.”

When it comes to how to help people who are suffering from mental health problems. She said the first thing was speaking up and getting counseling.

“There’s no shame in talking to someone, because I think that when we are in our heads and going over either traumas and problems, it’s very hard to see solutions. Talk to someone. I would advise the professional because your friends might not be able to deal with what’s going on. And there’s free counseling, there’s a lot of different options, like Pieta House.”

“There’s nothing to feel ashamed of, I’m so grateful for my suicide attempt because it has turned my life into the life that I’m really proud of. Everybody has a story, everybody has hardships, but it’s what we do with these hardships and how we progress and move forward.”

She also suggested making a journal. “If you don’t want someone to see those thoughts or if you feel embarrassed about them, then get rid of them. But get them out of your head. Because in that way you will actually make room for the better of motions and feeling good about yourself.”

She said it’s important to make peace with those unhappy things and let go of the past.

“That can be really hard, for me, childhood trauma was extremely hard. But in order to heal, we need to look back and trace steps and figure out why we are where we are. And then let go of those things with limiting beliefs,” said Ms Farrelly.

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