A DAY OF PILGRIMAGE, A LOOK BACK

Featured

I first posted this article in 2014.  Its a true description of a yearly trip my family would make for 10 years or more this is a memory of my first trip 1954

great victoria street station      images

TO DAY I WENT TO ONE OF IRELAND’S HOLY PLACES OF PILGRIMAGE, THE HOLY SHRINE OF KNOCK WHERE ITS SAID THAT IN 1879 OUR HOLY MOTHER MARY APPEARED TO 15 PEOPLE ON THE GABLE WALL OF THE LOCAL STONE BUILT CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE OF MAYO .

AS A CHILD OF 6 YRS MY MOTHER AND FATHER  DECIDED IT WAS TIME I ALSO CAME ALONG, WHICH CAME AS A SURPRISE TO ME AS I WAS TOLD THE YEAR BEFORE ‘YOU ARE TOO YOUNG’, BUT THIS YEAR 1954 I COULD JOIN THE REST OF THE KELLY FAMILY AND UNDERTAKE THE GREAT ADVENTURE TO KNOCK SHRINE IN MAYO ON THE 3RD SUNDAY OF AUGUST!

THE NIGHT BEFORE, PREPARATION WOULD BEGIN. AT 7PM, AS ON ALL OTHER NIGHTS IN OUR HOUSE, DADDY GOT TO HIS KNEES AND STARTED THE FAMILY ROSARY. NO ONE LEFT THE HOUSE UNTIL AFTER THE ROSARY, BUT ON THIS SATURDAY NO ONE LEFT AT ALL AS WE HAD AN EARLY START ON SUNDAY MORNING. SO IT WAS BATH TIME AND, YES, WE HAD AN INDOOR BATHROOM SO EVERYONE TOOK THEIR TURN. THE YOUNGEST FIRST, SO THAT WAS ME. WASHED, DRIED, CLEAN UNDERWEAR, AND MAM SHOUTING “MAKE SURE YOU CLEAN BEHIND THOSE EARS AND DRY YOUR HAIR!”. ONCE ALL THIS WAS DONE, IT WAS OFF TO BED. IT WAS LIKE WAITING FOR SANTA AT CHRISTMAS WITH ALL THE EXCITEMENT AND NO SLEEP, FOR TOMORROW I WOULD BE GOING ON THE GREAT BIG STEAM TRAIN TO KNOCK! BUT AS IN ALL THESES THINGS, I DID DRIFT OFF TO SLEEP.

KNOCK, KNOCK. “PHILIP, JIMMY, OLIVER, GET UP! ITS TIME TO GO FOR THE TRAIN!” I SIT UP IN MY BED, WIPE MY EYES AND LOOK AROUND THE OTHER TWO STILL LYING STILL AND HALF ASLEEP. KNOCK KNOCK AGAIN. “WILL YOU GET UP? WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!” SUDDENLY THEY STIR. “WHAT TIME IS IT?” OLIVER ASKS. “ITS 3.30,” SAYS DADDY. “GET READY.” I LOOK AT MY CLEAN CLOTHES ALL LAID OUT BY MAMMY THE NIGHT BEFORE. MY SCHOOL UNIFORM, WHICH I WILL PROUDLY WEAR ON THIS GREAT JOURNEY – MY BLAZER WITH THE CBS ST PATRICK’S PRIMARY SCHOOL  CREST, WHITE SHIRT, SCHOOL TIE, AND MY SHORT TROUSERS. ALL THREE OF US WORE THE SAME OUTFIT, EXCEPT ME. THE OLDER BROTHERS HAD LONG TROUSERS, AND RITA HAD HER DOMINICAN FORTWILLIAM GRAMMAR SCHOOL UNIFORM. AS USUAL, BOTH MAM AND DAD WERE TURNED OUT IN ALL THEIR FINERY. WE HAD A CUP OF TEA AND THE TAXI WAS AT THE DOOR. IT WAS TIME TO GO TO THE GREAT NORTHERN RAILWAY STATION IN GREAT VICTORIA STREET TO MEET UP WITH ALL THE OTHER PILGRIMS ABOUT TO MAKE THIS GREAT JOURNEY TO KNOCK.

WHEN WE ARRIVE THERE IT’S A HIVE OF ACTIVITY WITH HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE QUEUING UP TO BOARD THEIR TRAINS WHICH WILL CARRY US AWAY. AS I WALK DOWN PAST THE TRAINS, I SEE ALL THE SICK PILGRIMS COMING OUT OF THE KNIGHTS OF MALTA AMBULANCES, SOME ON STRETCHERS AND WHEELCHAIRS. THEY WERE AIDED BY NURSES AND DOCTORS WHO I LATER FOUND OUT WERE ALL FROM THE MATER HOSPITAL ON THE CRUMLIN ROAD. THEY WERE SUPPORTED BY MEMBERS OF THE KNIGHTS IN THEIR WELL PRESENTED GREY UNIFORMS  WHO WOULD ACCOMPANY THEM ON THE JOURNEY. BUT AS A 6’YR OLD, MY MIND WAS ON OTHER THINGS LIKE THIS BIG STEAM ENGINE THAT WILL PULL US ALL THE WAY TO MAYO.

“ALL ABOARD! ALL ABOARD!” THE STATION MASTER SHOUTS. SO ON I GET WITH MY DAD HOLDING MY HAND. WE MOVE DOWN THE CARRIAGE LOOKING FOR OUR SEATS, AND I NOTICE THAT ALL THE TABLES ARE SET WITH CUPS AND SAUCERS AND CUTLERY. WE FIND OUR NAMES AND OUR SEATS AND WE ALL MOVE IN AND SETTLE DOWN FOR THE JOURNEY,

SOON THE TRAIN HOOTER SOUNDS AND WE ARE ON OUR WAY, PUFFING OUT OF THE STATION. I HAVE A WINDOW SEAT SO I CAN GET A LOOK AT THE VARIOUS SMALL STATIONS WE PASS, FROM DUNMURRY TO LURGAN, ALL THE WAY TO PORTADOWN, WHERE THE TRAIN IS STOPPED FOR CUSTOMS INSPECTION. YOU CAN FEEL THE TENSION AND THE HOSTILITY FROM THE CUSTOMS MEN , BUT WE STAYED QUIET AND LET THEM GET ON WITH THEIR JOB. AFTER WE RESTART, WE FEEL A SENSE OF RELIEF AND BREAKFAST IS SERVED. A FULL FRY AND BREAD AND BUTTER WITH TEA, AND WE ALL TUCK IN, BUT NOT BEFORE GRACE AND A DECADE OF THE ROSARY. AS MY DAD SAID “YOU’RE ON PILGRIMAGE!”

SOON WE ARE ACROSS THE BORDER AND HEADING FOR THE BIG VIADUCT ACROSS THE BOYNE RIVER IN DROGHEDA. WHAT A SIGHT FOR A CHILD! ON TO CONNOLLY STATION IN DUBLIN  WHERE WE STOP TO CHANGE ENGINES AND DRIVERS. WE ARE IN THE HANDS OF C.I.E AND A SENSE OF PEACE COMES OVER THE TRAIN AS PEOPLE RELAX AND LAUGH. WE ARE IN THE FREE STATE. WE ARE NOT ALLOWED OFF THE TRAIN AT THIS TIME AS THERE IS A LOT OF SHUNTING  BUT SOON AS WE GET TO HUSTON STATION, WE JUMP OFF TO STRETCH OUR LEGS. THE SMOKERS GET OFF TOO TO GET A FIX,  AS MY DAD DID. THERE HE BOUGHT THE IRISH PAPERS TO READ UP ON THE SPORTS AND THE NEWS, WHICH HE SHARED WITH OLIVER AND JIMMY,  AND THE JOURNEY CONTINUED. MORE PRAYERS, MORE TEA AND BISCUITS, AND MORE PRAYERS, BUT SOON WE ARRIVE IN CLAREMORRIS STATION IN COUNTY MAYO. THE TRAIN JOURNEY IS OVER.

WE ALL EXIT THE SMALL STATION AND MAKE OUR WAY UP THROUGH THE TOWN TO THE SQUARE WHERE WE MEET THE BUSES THAT WILL TAKE US TO KNOCK. THEY WERE SINGLE DECK LEYLAND BUSES WITH THE DRIVERS CAB SEPARATE FROM THE BODY OF PASSENGERS , LIKE THE OLD LONDON BUSES. MY LASTING MEMORY OF THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY WAS SEEING ALL THE WHITEWASHED COTTAGES AS WE MADE OUR WAY ALONG THIS COUNTRY ROAD. THE BEAUTY OF THAT SCENE HAS ALWAYS REMAINED WITH ME.

SOON WE ARRIVE AT THE CHURCH. THE BUS IS MARKED ‘ST PATRICKS BELFAST, NO’2’ AND WE MAKE OUR WAY TO THE CHURCH. THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WALKING AROUND THE CHURCH SAYING THE ROSARY AND OTHER PRAYERS. WE SOON JOIN IN WALKING, MY FATHER HOLDING MY HAND IN CASE I WANDER OFF AND GET LOST IN THE HUGE CROWD OF PEOPLE. AFTER WE GO AROUND THE CHURCH THREE TIMES, WE GO OFF TO BUY SOME HOLY PICTURES, STATUES AND MEDALS, AS WELL AS HOLY WATER, AND ROSARY BEADS ALL TO BE BLESSED AT THE MASS FOR THE SICK LATER IN THE DAY. IT WAS ALSO A CHANCE TO GET SOME REFRESHMENTS OF TEA AND LEMONADE AND SANDWICHES BEFORE THE PARADE

AFTER WE HAVE DONE ALL THIS, WE LINE UP BEHIND OUR BANNER OF THE DIOCESES OF DOWN AND CONOR, WHERE WE MEET OTHER PILGRIMS FROM THE OTHER DIOCESES AROUND THE COUNTRY .

THE PARADE STARTS AROUND THE CHURCH AND WE DO THE STATIONS OF THE CROSS BEFORE HEADING BACK TO OUR AREA WHERE WE AWAIT THE MASS OF THE SICK. THE SICK ARRIVE WITH THEIR HELPERS AND ARE PLACED AT THE FRONT OF THE CHURCH WALL WHERE THEY ARE ANOINTED WITH HOLY OILS. I HEAR SOME OF THEM CRY AND AND OTHERS PRAY FOR THE GRACE TO CARRY THEIR CROSS, WHICH WAS EXPLAINED TO ME BY MY MOTHER. THIS WAS MY FIRST ENCOUNTER  WITH THE REAL SUFFERING OF THE SICK .

SOON IT WAS ALL OVER AND BY 5,PM WE WERE ALL BACK ON THE BUS, HEADING FOR THE TRAIN AND OUR LONG JOURNEY BACK TO BELFAST

The knock shrine off the past  knock church in my young daysour lady of knock

The knock shrine off today

Image result for knock shrineImage result for knock shrine

 

The Holidays Are Over So What Now?

So here we are, all the rushing, exchanging presents,  eating Turkey eating pie and the few glasses of wine is over for another year.

As I sit here in front of my computer and look back over the past few weeks and wonder was it really a happy Christmas and New Year, and yes in many ways it was and yes I did make a few mistakes and no I did  not drink wine but my beloved wife did and for the first time in 2017 we laughed and hugged as we chatted about the year the sad times the happy times and the not so happy times especially as I have from May to December 2017  been receiving treatment for a acute bout of depression, and PTSD which had me hospitalised for 10 weeks plus 6 weeks as  an outpatient as I received further treatment on how to cope with my depression.

Depression is a very serious illness and sometimes it’s not easy to re-engineer our lives in order to live with the consequences of the illness . As there is no one fits all solution’s for depression so in order to do that we need to learn about your /our particular illness.

The one thing I learned last year, was about taking responsibility for my mental health, taking the things that will come at me every day and being able to cope with them, to achieve this I  will be using what I was taught on the WRAP course, the most important thing is to have a structure that we can use as our guide and in some cases our crutch to lean on when things are not so good, just as if you see someone with a broken leg he uses a crutch for support, and so our structure for our bad days is our crutch.

So what is our structure and how do we implement it?  below I have listed some of what I use for my structure:

One of the things I find difficult is getting out of the bed which in many ways it can be a fear of what the day holds, this is because every thing in our minds is exaggerated and even-tho we had what we thought was a goodnight’s sleep we might still feel tired so the first thing to do is make yourself get up make the bed and head for the shower, because those jets of warm /hot water hitting your skin will waken up your senses and you will feel refreshed for the day ahead , this to “ordinary/ normal person” does not have the same type of effect as it does for a  person with depression because that shower will wash away all our fears and anxieties for that day.

1, If you have a mobile phone with an alarm set it for fixed times to remind you to take your medication, that was one of the things I would forget until it was to late to take them, the alarm solved that problem for me.

2, Have a daily plan of what you want to do that day and a backup plan for any changes like the weather but the one thing to do is to get out for that walk or that cup of tea/coffee so that you can meet other people who are not family to maybe have that conversion about the weather or any other topic that comes to mind or just to say hello

3, Make up your day with little tasks , like cooking or doing some kind of volunteering work that will help others, join a men’s shed group doing these things will enhance your sense of well being and self esteem

4  In the morning or in the evening do some kind of meditation, in a room or a space you are comfortable in, where you can play any kind of music that will help you to relax.

5  Another thing that you can do , is keep a journal of the things that made you smile, and the people you met these are things you can write about at a later stage

The above are only a couple of suggestions as to what  can be done to  help with your structures which are so important for your daily life.

 So in conclusion can I wish all my fellow suffers out there A Happy New Year And Every Success in 2018

Advertisements

Happy New Year To 2018, As We March Forward In Peace And Unity Of Purpose To A United Ireland.

It was 100 years ago 1918 that the majority of the Irish people voted Sinn Fein  in a British general election for a united and free Ireland from British Colonial rule

As result of this election the Sinn Fein Party / The Republican Party, refused to take their seats in the British parliament and moved to the Round Hall In The Mansion House Dawson Street Dublin and created the first Dail  ( Parliament ) of Ireland

This situation was totally unacceptable to the British who ignored the democratic wishes of the people of Ireland which led to the war of Independence [ 1918 – 1921 ]

100 years later and after much suffering and loss of life within the Irish nationalist communities  in our six counties which the British with force of arms and threats of murder/war partitioned our country in 1922, its once again Sinn Fein who are leading the way in our ongoing struggle for  the return of our national sovereignty as they are once again the Biggest political party in Ireland, so what for 2018.

Will Brexit in a almost perverse way lead to a united free Ireland solidly embedded with the European family of nations, This should /must be in 2018 the most important challenge for our government both nationally and economically once again I say

 ALTHOUGH IT IS 100 YEARS LATE OUR NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY  MUST BE RETURNED AND THE WISHES OF THE IRISH  PEOPLE RESPECTED

A NEW YEAR A NEW BEGINNING

Slider_01

 As 2018 Comes in and 2017 enters the past its a time for looking forward in hope of better times and good health and mental health.

As we look into this upcoming year its a chance to reinvent our lives and take positive action in support of ourselves , time to kick out those things that caused us bad mental health in 2017

So lets reassert our self esteem our own self worth and face into this new year with confidence and a determination to succeed at any challenge that will face us.

                         Happy New Year

LOOK FOR THE SIGNS,AND REACH OUT

Image result for suicide

Over the past six ( 6 ) months I have been lucky enough to meet some of the finest and bravest people anyone could ever hope to meet in a life time.

We all had one thing in common,we all suffered from depression to varying degrees, from acute to post traumatic stress disorder to bipolar all of which plays havoc with our minds.

The feelings of being useless and a burden to our family and friends can and does drive our mind to the darkest of places

During conversions where we talked to each other as we went through the recovery program we all had one other thing in common and that was the contemplation of committing suicide and or self harm ( bad thoughts !! )

We all had different reasons / triggers for such bad thoughts, as we had different experiences in our lives, for some it was peer pressure,or the trauma of losing a loved one, for others it was trying to deal with end of life issues like retiring from your job,ill health, or reliving a early life trauma like child sexual abuse or trying to recover from rape,or a recent episode of sexual or mental abuse within a relationship or from a family member ie a brother sister father mother uncle or aunt, plus of course a so called friend of the family

All of us avoided that final settlement because we had support someone we could reach out to, someone who cared and would listen to where we where at, not to understand the whole picture but knew enough that we needed help, or in some cases stopped ourselves because we realised the hurt, damage, and shame such an action would have on our families, but the most important thing was we all sought help, our mind illness was so severe it was the hospital or the casket,we chose the hospital.

We were the lucky ones ,we had that outreach that helping hand to get us past that crisis.

As we all know Christmas can be  for many people a very lonely place, where all around there is the parties , the shopping , the Christmas dinner with family and friends, but for some, things are not right we are down and not fitting in with the festivities we are alone in that crowded room, our head is burning and spinning and screaming I need to get out of here I need quiet, I need peace, I can’t go on anymore,I need to end all of this.

 THIS IS WHEN YOU NEED HELP.    YOU NEED TO REACH OUT. ITS NOW YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE, BUT HOW DO YOU DO THAT ? WHO CAN I TALK TO ?

NOW IS THE TIME TO MAKE THAT CALL TO A HELPLINE  CALL ;

THE SAMARITANS: PHONE FREEPHONE 116 123

AWARE FREE HELPLINE: 1800 80 48 48

 CALL YOUR GP OR YOUR CLERGY MAN :

GO TO YOUR LOCAL A&E :

 

Image result for suicide

 

 

A Thought For This Christmas

Image result for a christmas for the lonely

As we move into the season of Christmas I can not but think of the state of our world, where greed in the name of god has driven countries to war creating poverty through  out the world.

Even here in our little country we see the the results of such greed as our people die on the streets because they have no home, family, or job,who in many cases suffer with a mental illness.

We see it every day on our streets as they beg for a few cents to buy a cup of tea as our government put banks and profit before looking after the most needy and vulnerable in our society as they wash their hands off the problem and say look how we fund the charities that is now their responsibility. That reminds me of how this state used the charities to run that  other great scandal { The mother and babies homes } and look how that ended , the current policy is once again brush it under the carpet.

SO MY REQUEST THIS CHRISTMAS IS PLEASE DON’T IGNORE THE HOMELESS OUR OLD AND INFIRM A FEW CENTS A CUP OF TEA OR JUST AN HELLO COULD MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE TO THAT PERSON THIS CHRISTMAS

 

Homeless Geraldine


 

My Helping Hand And My Toolbox

 Image result for brain and mental disorders

When things breakdown like our car or if we have an electrical or plumbing problem we go to the garage, or call  the electrician or plumber, and why do we do that ? because they have the tool box to fix the problem !!

As we struggle with the consequence of depression we too need a tool box, which can help us to fix things in our mind, to rebuild ourselves, and recover our own sense of self  worth  and well being.

There are five (5) Key Recovery concepts :

1 Hope

2 Personal Responsibility

3 Education

4 Self – Advocacy

5 Support

And issues that need attention, including:

Getting good healthcare and Medication management

There is much to hope for:

If  you experience disturbing emotional symptoms and behaviours, you can get well and stay well for long periods of time.

You can work towards and meet your goals. You can lead a happy and productive life.

You don’t need, nor will you benefit from dire predictions about your future

Your supporters and care providers should encourage you, help you feel better and assist in supporting you in staying well

 

Personal Responsibility:

You are the expert on yourself. You know what you need and want.

It’s up to you to take personal responsibility for your own wellness and your life. Sometimes this means facing up to the past and taking back control of what you have lost in the past

Those of us who have taken back this control and accept this responsibility achieve the highest levels of  wellness, happiness,and life satisfaction 

Education

Learn all you can about yourself so you can make good decisions about your treatment , lifestyle, career, Relationships, living space, leisure time activities, and all aspects of your life.

Educate  yourself, read about your illness, use the internet to your advantage to gain information, this can be the new beginning in life that after years of suffering you have yearned for, so take it up with both hands, cherish it, and enjoy your new life, but this can’t be achieved without your TOOLBOX        The  five key recovery concepts in this article should be in your toolbox as I found them to be the basis for my ongoing and so far successful wellness 

As I go through this series of articles I will hopefully be giving you more things to help fill your 

 Recovery Toolbox.

In the meantime thank you for reading this article and I hope it will be of help to you.

For a more detailed look at the WRAP program Google ; Mary Ellen Copeland Phd

 

DSCN1581

WRAP: Wellness Recovery Action Plan

Image result for mental health imagesImage result for mental health images

Today 6/12/ 2017 I have just completed a six (6) week Course in St Patrick’s University Hospital For Mental Health:

It’s Called WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan ) This is a recovery plan which is used world wide by people who are dealing with all kinds of health and mental health issues, and life challenges. The plan was developed by a group of people who suffer with / from mental health issues.

The program is set up as a self management tool that promotes a higher level of wellness, stability and quality of life, which will empower you to take control of your life, and to embrace /achieve your  life goals and dreams.

It gives people the tools to re-discover themselves, their own self esteem, their confidence and self worth and motivates people to face the world after a serious episode of a mental health illness.

This program was formatted by Dr Mary Ellen Copeland PhD

Image result for mary ellen copeland

 

The WRAP program does not replace other treatments i.e. medication etc but rather it can be used to compliment them and if the method is adhered to it can be used as an  early warning system to help keep you from falling back into an acute depression.

The WRAP program consists of eight (8) modules:

(a) The Wellness Toolbox:

( b) The Daily Maintenance Plan:

(c) The Triggers and Action Plan:

(d) Early Warning Signs and Action Plan:

(e) When Things are Breaking Down and Action plan:

(f) Crisis  Planning:

(g) Post Crisis Planning:


The program lasts 6 weeks, two days per week, 12 days in all, and it is given by  trained and certified therapists, who are in most if not all cases fully qualified nurses and social sciences workers  who have a wide varied experience in their fields of expertise who will make you feel at ease with them and the other patients who shared the course with me.

Over the next few weeks I will give an over view of each module and how I was able to benefit from the program

Image result for mental health images