WRAP: Wellness Recovery Action Plan

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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

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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

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The Sins Of Fianna Fail, Fein Gael And The Irish Labour Party and The Catholic Church, Against The Children and Mothers of Ireland, Many Of whom died of Broken Hearts Or In the Magdalene Laundries

They were sent from orphanages from the north of Ireland and Britain to Australia with the promise of freedom. Many ended up in the care of the notorious Christian Brothers where they were treated as slave labour and suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse. Between 1947 and 1967 up to 10,000 children were shipped to […]

via The Stolen Children – Hopes and Dreams Deported Down Under — Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Retirement ,Old Age, And Depression

 I write this article in tribute to the testimony of the  Older Generation that I encountered during my stay in Saint Patrick’s University Hospital Dublin.

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As we go through our early life and teenage years we rarely if ever think about our old age, it’s all rock and roll, parties, girlfriends, boyfriends, school and university.

Its a time where we are full of energy and ambitions. It’s when we are free to try and fulfill our dreams of travel, excitement, and discovery of the world we live in, its also a time of great joy and   challenges.

As you are off on your travels you are sure in your mind that Mammy and Daddy are at home where there is a warm bed and roof to lie under, this is your safety net.


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Eventually somewhere along the line you will meet the boy /girl of your dreams.

This is the point when you will turn into a man/woman, you become an adult.

You then do what society expects you to do, it’s called human conditioning !!,

Your conditioned to be, in the case of the male to be the breadwinner, the supplier of security, as your wife is the home maker  and mother to your children and so it goes around.

Even at this stage old age or retirement does not enter your mind, you’re paying into your pension / insurance schemes and all is bright and beautiful.

Then as you create your own family the circle of life begins once again.

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Your mother / father become grandparents as  they now  start to face into retirement and their own mortality.

Its a time, after years of hard work for reflection, evaluation, but most of all it’s a time when society turns you, just like the horse, out to grass, because in their eyes you have now served your purpose, that is in spite of the fact that we did not wish to retire as we still feel that we have something to offer society, but more important we don’t want to feel unwanted or surplus to requirements, we don’t want people saying in surprise “you’re looking well for your age” because age doesn’t matter its what is in the mind that matters !!!

But whats in the mind of an older person ?

Is it a feeling of rejection ? A feeling of joy ?

Is it a feeling of loss ?

Is it a feeling of despair / abandonment ?

Is it a fear of the unknown?

For most it can be a time of joy, a time to share the long love and comfort of each other, to look back at your successes as you proudly look at your children and grandchildren and murmur to yourself , we didn’t do too bad after all, its time to let go, its now our time.

Its time to live the dreams, to visit the places we always wanted to, to do the bucket list !!, it could be a round the world  trip, it could be an exotic train journey across Russia to China, or the orient express across Europe.

Unfortunately we can’t all be so lucky in our old age.

For most of us it’s the bowling club, the men’s shed, that walk everyday, the night out to dinner every week. But then our biggest fear arrives, just like that old broken  car in the drive way, we start to feel the pain in our joints. we start to slow down, our memory starts to fade, our age starts to catch up as   we are faced with our own mortality and health issues.

Old age is setting in and as our mobility is now less effective we start to feel isolated.

 Our children now have responsibility for their own  children, we see less of them or even worse they may be in some far off land where our only contact is by Skype or Social Media.

While all this movement is going on around us we start to become more and more isolated and fear of being a burden to others grows.

Then one day we wake up and we can’t/wont get out of the bed.

As time goes on we spend more and more time in bed and our sense of loss, feeling uselessness and loss of self esteem grows as we fall unknowingly  into a deep depression

 A depression which can and does become life threatening.

A depression which becomes even more dangerous when we mourn the loss of our partner and enter  widowhood.

It’s a trauma and sense of loss that few will understand until they themselves experience it,

I know I didn’t understand as a young man the depth of that suffering when my father died and my mother was left alone, its only now when I hear the heartbreaking stories of bereaved partners that I can now fully appreciate that suffering,

 Because now as I sit here in front off this computer I too at 69 years old, I am now facing my own mortality.

But for whatever time I have left on this world I will always  look back at the gifts that god bestowed on me, my brothers and sisters and say Ireland is a better place now from when they where born into this Island,

My own 4 children and my beautiful wife Catherine,and say we did not do so bad after all



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Where To Begin, A Journey Of Self Discovery Through An Illness Of The Mind


Some people describe an illness of the mind as a nervous breakdown or a breakthrough of the mind, or madness, or “Oh he / she has problems with their nerves “!! all the usual cliche’s made by the unknowable / unacknowledgeable  people in  society who, without realizing the actual damage that they are doing to the person they are referring too.

In reality it’s called creating a stigma

I always refer to my recent encounter as my breakthrough, as an illness of the mind, not unlike any other illness I have had through my life, and I have had many, all of them life threatening, but none more so than my illness of the mind.!!

An illness of the mind in all cases is challenging to the sufferer, who becomes detached from the world around them, and their family and friends.

This is manifested by withdrawal from reality by way of sleeping all day, loss of motivation or purpose, loss of self esteem, loss of concentration, loss of self worth, and a conviction that whatever I do its wrong.

While the above does represent a number of sufferers but not all and certainly not the  most serious of cases, there can be people who suffer from psychosis / Schizophrenia, and bi-polar depression  but the one thing that is common among all sufferers is a feeling of unity as we are all ill of mind and we all suffer from a lack of understanding from people who have not had the misfortune to suffer an illness of the mind.

 It is estimated that at least 30% of the Irish population will suffer an episode of depression in their life time.

In many cases it explodes into their lives without warning or without the sufferer realizing it or understanding the reasons for it.

That is until in many cases they are hospitalized by their GP ( as it was in my own case).  I had all the symptoms of acute depression but as I was convinced I had a physical illness my focus was on a medical cure for my chronic back pain, which I was convinced was as a result of a major surgery I had in January 2015 which led me through 2015/16  having every medical test possible to try and discover the cause of this unbearable pain but to no avail, as this pain continued unabated and in many cases and on many days it got worse.

For me my loss of energy, concentration, sleeping for long periods during the day, being angry at those around me, feelings of uselessness and a burden to those who care the most for my welfare, this pain was so severe that I wished my doctors would tell me  I was terminally ill,

Unknown to me I was terminally ill but not as I had suspected, I was suffering from a different type of terminal illness it’s called extreme stress / depression/ anxiety.

This was to lead to a serious and acute bout of depression, which can lead, and sometimes does to a person making a terminal decision  with regards their own life.

My initial response to this event was one of fear, a fear of the unknown and the future, what would people say? what would my neighbors think ? what would the in-laws and out- laws have to say or think ?!!

After a couple of weeks in hospital I was to understand that it did not really matter what they said or thought, because at the end of the day this was  my illness and mine alone.

I  could lie down under it or I could turn it to my advantage, I could make the  decision to accept responsibility for my own recovery with the help of my medical team .

It was at this point that I decided that my life had to change, I needed to unconditionally accept my illness and do my share to achieve a full recovery.



During my journey I was to discover who I am;
















                                I AM ME !!





A Mindful Experience


When I was putting this poster together, it all happened without thought or intention from me.

When I was in hospital recently one of my fellow patients asked me to go this therapy so I decided I would if no other reason than to kill time and to stop Eddie giving out to me !!!

As we entered the therapy room all I could see were four tables and  six people at each table  which where covered with magazines and six pairs of scissors and everyone ready to go  I thought,what next? here we are back at primary school  cutting out pictures as Eddie stands back laughing at the shock on my face as I say “Jesus Eddie what have you got me into this time ? !!!” but never the less I said as promised I would stay and give it ago as we took up our seats

I started to look through the magazines to find pictures when suddenly I saw the heading:

I’m Beginning To Accept Myself For Who I am :

At this point  something strange started to happen. As I was continuing to leaf through the pages I felt that this was not me in charge off this project but my mind and that my hands where only the instruments to do its bidding as more and more pictures presented themselves to me which I blindly stuck to the cardboard to create the poster.

Not thinking much more about it  I returned to my room and put the poster on top off my wardrobe went off  had a cup of tea and as it was a sunny evening a walk in the garden with Eddie where we talked about the class we both attended.

I tried to explain to him what had happened, he laughed at me and said your off your head !! we both laughed as I said I suppose that is why we are in St Pat’s !!! as Eddie say’s “Its the medication stupid !!!” once again laughter as we continue our walk joking with each other, as we are joined by other patients from our floor, the poster was never mentioned again

A couple off weeks later I started my [ CBT] Therapy which is about helping people to deal with trauma and post traumatic stress disorder, something I never thought about until I had my breakdown / breakthrough.

It was at one of these sessions that I was to realize and learn about a thing called “compassionate self “

This is a therapy where we look at the decision’s we made  in our lives and why we made them etc. what where the positives and what where the negative?

As I continued on with this therapy my mind was becoming more clear about the past I was for the first time able to stop beating myself up and start to regain my self esteem and self respect by knowing that my decisions were made for the right reasons and not self gain or self glorification hence your compassionate self.

It was after one of these sessions that I returned to my room to prepare my laundry bag that I happened to take the poster down, as I left it on my bed I looked at it one more time only to see the biggest success any human being could have

      As I Now Accept Who I Am

I Am Me!!


The Challenges Of Life

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As we go through life we will all have to face challenges, some of these of events / challenges we will face with great courage where we will overcome them with gusto, and in other times we will fail miserably. But nevertheless we will continue to try even if its against all the odds of success.

Some people describe this as being pigheaded, determined or in Irish terms, { A Thick that just won’t give up !!}

Sometimes these unbearable challenges are hoisted upon us by way of  serious ill health which in most cases are life threatening as we hang on by our fingertips and hope that the Surgeons will get it right as we are wheeled  into the theater for our biggest challenge.

Knowing of  course that the real work will only begin when we arrive back into the intensive care unit as our nurses and doctors will await your waking up out of your very own anesthetic !!

But  can you imagine if in your later life you had to face that four/five times  as you fight to recover every time, and all are for a different illness but at the same time all related to the first  illness.

Sometimes the body just cant take any more as we suffer unbearable pain which just never seems to relent or even lessen.

It’s called chronic pain, a pain that will drive you down into the darkest place, a place no one ever wants to go, it is called ACUTE DEPRESSION !!

An illness that is even more life endangering / threatening   than any psychical illness, simply because we have lost all our reasons to live, where the taking of ones own life is seen to be the answer.

No more pain, no longer  are we a burden to our family, we will reach out to our God and seek love, comfort and forgiveness for our sins and for which we intend to do.

Or hope that a doctor would just  say we can’t do any more for you, as he tells you I can only say 6 months to a year and then it will be all over no more pain no more suffering

But then we wake up one morning and we decide to give our god forsaken life one more try  { The Thick Irish Man}.

But then all the questions start.

Why can’t you just allow me to go to your judgement rather than have all these people judge me and my life;

Why ? all the questions but few answers.

 How will  we try and tame that black dog of depression  and anxiety,and if so how ?

Who will help me?,

Who will understand me?

Was this awakening the hand of comfort from my God.?

Is he/she telling me I had more to do on this earth and I am not ready to take you?

Am I to face further suffering and pain? what more pain will I have to endure, or is my God to give me further strength to bear this cross,? to shine that light of hope, and where will that shining light take me?, Will He guide me to my inner peace? will He pick me up when I fall ?

When self doubt raises its head will He guide me back and give me the strength to overcome my weakness and fear.

Once again more questions than answers !!

Then I ask ? what was it that  awoke me that morning, what was it that told me I was going to be OK, its not your time and as we don’t know or understand the human mind  but something was talking to me, so I decided it was time to follow my mind. This was to be the first step of many in my recovery.

As I put my trust in that voice in my mind, which has guided me home and out of that darkness into the brightness of a new spring, where just like the daffodils sprouting from the darkness of the soil  I  too am reborn into life’s brightness.

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A New Life of Love, Hope and Laughter


On this damp and cold Autumn morning I look out at the trees at the back of my home shaking in the mild wind as they lose their beauty and their leaves drift in the wind down to the grass.

But these trees in the long winter to come will still protect me, my family and my home from the ravages of the winter and the Atlantic storms that will pound our land.

But come the springtime as the lambs leap across the fields, the cattle produce their calves, the daffodils sprout from the ground and the buds of new life appear we will witness the rebirth of our trees .

And so it goes with each autumn and winter the circle of life will continue. 

So it is as we go through our lives, after each illness / trauma / tragic event we try to hide our emotions and our worries and stand tall in the face of such adversity, but sometimes it all becomes overwhelming.

When this happens, just like my trees, we end up bare of feelings, self worth, confidence and belonging in this world.

As  we enter into our own winter of darkness and depression and without hope we are inside crying out for help and wondering will anyone hear us, will that helping hand reach out to us.

Then from nowhere that hand appears, the hand of love, the hand of hope, the hand of laughter, the hand of new life, just as the darkness of winter ends and the light of spring appears and the buds on my trees once again bloom into life, so also will the illness of depression be overcome with a new spring and light, as our buds of self-confidence, self worth, and our sense of place in this world starts to bloom a new beginning to life,  to be welcomed and clasped as we listen to the trees shaking  in the soft breeze and the rivers flow in a bright sun of a new Summer. 







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Recently I had a conversation with a person very close to me who said,

“you have been living in the shadow of your family all your life and it’s about time you stepped out of that shadow”

That statement was to have a profound effect on how I had viewed myself for the best part of, if not all of my life !!

The conversation took place at a recent book launch where I had a small piece included in the book. The book is called “A BITTERSWEET KIND OF BEAUTIFUL”.

This book included a sample of stories and poems written by a number of patients (of which I was one) in St Patricks Hospital for Mental Health in Dublin Ireland.

I come from a family of nine (9) four of whom received local, National and International recognition for the various things they achieved in their lives.

As I was the youngest in the family the age gap between them and me ranged between 15 years and 10 years, but nevertheless I was identified as their brother and was therefore it was expected that I too would also reach their standards, and yes in my mind I was convinced I at least had to try !! but the more I tried the harder it became and the more I tried and failed it became even more harder as I was to accept the ridicule of others, this was a cloud which was to hang over me for most of my life.

During the past number of weeks I have been receiving a therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This therapy helps to make people look at the decisions they made during their lives whether they were good or bad, whether they were right or wrong. I was asked to explain why I made those decisions and what affect those decisions had on my life. I was asked TO LOOK AT MY COMPASSIONATE MIND, i.e. was there any self gain; was it made to help others by way of a job; or to help those in my community who were worse off than me. But no it was neither of those things, it was about me, it was me trying to live up to a standard that I was never going to achieve. My only regret is that I did not do this years ago, as by trying to live up to the standards of others it almost destroyed my own life, as it destroyed my confidence and self esteem and worth, which led to anger with members of my family.

But having said all this I always think I am one of the lucky ones as I had the support and love of my own wife and four children who bestowed unconditional love and support in the most difficult of times .

I no longer live in those shadows but happy to realise my own success and that of my children.

WHO have achieved their aims of life, and are all highly educated, my oldest daughter is a secondary school teacher, my son has his own business, my 2nd son is a secondary school teacher in Vietnam and my daughter no2 is a writer and civil rights advocate

So no matter what people say about you the shape and your life that says everything about the home they come from and the example they follow

So for me the people who would have looked down me, are now looking up to me, because over the years I found a thing called

Compassion for self and others, the most important gift you can offer to others around you

A Helping Hand Can Change The Life Off One But Many Can Benefit


I am re-posting this article in the hope that people will support the Saint Vincent De Paul this Christmas As they reach out to those in need of help

Last Tuesday night I went along to my local  Aware mental  health support night in Castlebar Co Mayo.

Its a meeting for people who suffer with Mental health problems A place where we can discuss our problem where we can laugh at our problem and where we can support each other with our problems.

Whilst I was waiting on other members and for the meeting to begin I happened to pick up a booklet / magazine issued by the Saint Vincent  De Paul Society

(A charitable organisation who lend a helping hand to the less fortunate in our Profit,Greed,and The I am all right Jack Society )

As I glanced through the pages I came across this poem / essay That I would like to share with you

The Highest Degree

For years I lived in the torments of Hell

No one heard when I rang the bell

I felt deprived of love and life

As I cringed in my cell of poverty and strife


Bills sent chills, I lived in fright

No coal in the shed on a long winder’s night

The food running out and the money spent

The week not yet over and I didn’t pay rent


And just when I reached my lowest – the ebb

Angels descended anointing my head

These angels, the saviours, who heard my lost call

They are God’s holy helpers, the Vincent de Paul


Extending their kindness, they offered me help

They clothed my children, put food on the shelf

And when in crept September and schools going back

They helped me buy uniforms and books – I relaxed


My body re-healed, but my heart remained broken

I had travelled dark roads, I was stripped of emotion

My spirit felt buried, a tired run-down feeling

My soul searched release and a spiritual healing


Then one Summer’s night, at a quarter-to-eight

Two of “God’s helpers” appeared at my gate

They guided me gently, to sign on a course

And little-by-little, I regained my life force


I attended more courses, it was a revelation

To re-enter life and receive education

Learning new skills made me feel ten feet tall

All thanks to the members of St. Vincent de Paul.


Contributed by a person who was helped

This was written in the Autumn  off 2014 its now 2017 and not much has changed but they have got now 300 times worse

So the next time you see a Saint Vincent De Paul collection please contribute I know I will

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Homeless Geraldine



Facing A Mental Illness, A Personal Experience I am re-posting this to assure people there is life after a mental breakdown: ( First Posted 2017 )



Over the past few months I have had to face the reality of a mental illness;
An illness I never thought I would have to confront but yet out of the blue I was struck down
with depression and stress. I have now ended up in this hospital to hopefully get well again.

When I decided to get help I told my family not to say anything about where I was or what was wrong with me for fear of the stigma which is applied to mental illness by members of the population who draw un-knowledgeable conclusions, I was one of that population, that made those assumptions. That is, until I came in here and saw the real problems that people who suffer from a mental illness have to face in their daily lives and it does not make healthy viewing. In fact it is horrific, hence, the picture / slogan ‘walk in my shoes’ because until you have walked in those shoes you will never understand the turmoil that people and families actually endure when a loved one has a mental illness. I know I didn’t and that is the reason I am writing this as I hope to bring some little understanding of the problem. So, over the next few weeks I hope to write a few words about my experience and the various treatments I receive while I recover from my own event/ illness.

When I arrived into hospital the first thing that struck me was the quietness and the welcome offered to me by the nursing staff as they showed me to my bed in a four bed ward. As I settled into the ward one of things that shook me was the number of young people from their late teens and early twenties who were in my ward and the other wards and private rooms around me, these were not the type of people anyone would expect to meet in St Patrick’s as they are in most cases from good and caring homes who are upper working to middle class where health insurance would be the norm but where depression would be the exception ( that would be my perception ).

After a few days as I settled in and over a cup of tea got to speak to my fellow patients. I was to discover that these young people were all 3rd level students who are in their 1st or 2nd year of their courses at university and are in most cases plagued by the fear of failure which has led to serious bouts of depression leading to loss of confidence and self- esteem and in some cases drugs and suicidal thoughts, not at all what I expected!!!!

What I did expect were people in their late 30’s + who might have an ongoing illness or following the banking crisis, financial problems or marriage breakup and yes there are people here suffering depression as a result of all of the above but not nearly as many as the young people and I have to say it came as major shock.

Once I got over the shock of my first few days and following meeting my doctor and his team I learned about my illness and realised that I was suffering from an illness just like any other. But this time it was an illness of the mind which was brought on by life experience and early retirement at the age of 52 following major surgery in 2004 and last being in 2015.

Over the years this led to feelings of uselessness, loss of self worth, and of being a burden on my family which in turn led to a deep depression.

I am now here 3 weeks and entering my 4th week , during this time I have got my own private room with its own bathroom which allows a tremendous amount freedom and privacy as the doctors assessed my progress and continue to administer my medication to correct the chemical balance in my brain. I have also attended several workshops which have helped me to fully understand and come to terms with my illness. These workshops would include The Depression Recovery Service, which is a program of talks and lectures given by specially trained therapists in a group setting. This program lasts 3 weeks and has 8 sessions/lectures a week and is something I found really helpful and beneficial towards my ongoing recovery as I recover my confidence and self worth. The biggest part of this is the ability to share my story with others as well as listening to their stories and the reasons for their illnesses. It also explains in ordinary language the causes of depression and how the two parts of the brain communicate with each other, how to watch for triggers which may set off an episode of mild depression and if not treated could lead to a more serious bout of depression so that when I leave this hospital I will have the tools to look after my mental health.

The other treatment I will receive whilst I am here will be a course called:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

This is a therapy which helps people overcome negative thoughts and turn them into positives.

This therapy helps people who have serious difficulties with the past which may have been caused by a trauma or serious illness or even post traumatic stress disorder as it bores down into the possible reasons for your depression.

Up to the end of this week and 6 weeks of hospitalization, I have now had 3 sessions of ( CBT) during which, in conjunction with The Depression Recovery Service, has given me a real deep insight into what caused my severe depression but more important it has given me the tools on how to deal with it should it ever happen again

I have a further 3 weeks to go when my treatment will be completed and I return to living my life to the full, where I will be able understand the connections between physical health and mental health and to face these challenges with the knowledge and confidence that yes I can, at 69 years of age still be of service and help to my family and community.

After ten weeks in hospital (June – September I am 4 months at home, but I continue to receive treatment and support as an out patient as I find my way through the WRAP program and receive ongoing support from Aware.ie

That is why I will continue to ask people, do not judge people who have suffered a severe depression,/ mental illness, who have lost their self-worth, and their self esteem and who in many cases have lost their will to live




{In conclusion I wish to thank the nursing staff the doctors the therapist’s and all the staff at Saint Patrick’s University hospital Dublin for their care in my recovery }