Light Life Learning had the pleasure of a cupán and a chat with Tralee’s passionate mental health fundraiser, Poshey Aherne. Although he’d rather water than tea. Poshey set up Darkness into Light in Tralee and also Walk for Life, Kerry and when he is not working can often be found running marathons, swimming in baltic seas or cycling – all for the love of mental health charity and prevention of suicide. Here’s what he told me:
What inspired you to get involved in fundraising for mental health and suicide prevention?
Everyone is affected by mental health or has lost someone to suicide. I have lost a number of friends myself. It’s a sad fact that everyone is affected and that ten people are lost to suicide in Ireland each week – eight of these are men.
Tell us about some of the projects you are involved in at the moment.
I’m back at Jigsaw Kerry, where it all began for me. Such an amazing charity, who always made me welcome and at home when I work with them. It’s charities like Jigsaw who appreciate what you do, and that makes it worthwhile. I have a few other things up my sleeve but that would be telling 🙂
What do you find most rewarding about this work?
I have such a passion and fire in me to help charities that need more awareness and extra funding. When all the hard work and long months/days/hours are over, if someone is saved or has reached out for help because of me I feel happy.
What message do you have for people who would like to help too?
I’d never done an event before and didn’t know what was involved, but I got up and did it and it paid off. Charities are out there looking for help, from bag packs, to family events, any event really.
You said in the video (below) about your own experience of suffering anxiety, can you tell us more?
I only got diagnosed around a year ago with anxiety, I’ve had it for years but never knew that’s what it was. I’d feel shocking sometimes – over-thinking a lot of things, sweaty armpits, feeling afraid I’d fall over. Before going out I’d worry that I’d get sick with nerves. I don’t know why. The worst is feeling that I’m not good enough or that some people won’t like me. I’m sensitive. It gets hard at times, but I keep telling myself there are people worse off. Many have depression or have been hit by cancer. Anxiety attacks can leave you feeling helpless, but training and keeping positive definitely helps.
How do you look after yourself? Any mental health tips you can share with us?
About three years ago I got into fitness. I was never fit in my life, but a friend asked me to go running with him. I never looked back. It changed my life for the better. I think diet and exercise are the key to good mental health. Even a daily brisk walk for thirty minutes can do wonders.
What advice would you give to people out there who are suffering?
My message for the last two years has not changed and won’t change. I’ll keep drilling it out and long as I can: Never suffer alone in silence. Isolating yourself is the worst thing you can do, it only gets worse that way. If you had a broken arm you would go ahead and get support to get it fixed.
The same applies to people with mental health problems. When your mental health is bad you need help to get better and fix yourself. There are so many organisations out there who do amazing work. Jigsaw Kerry, Pieta House, Samaritans and lots of individual counsellors who will guide you on the right path to getting better. It’s okay not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help. Remember that.