Posted in citizenship, Ireland, social justice, Uncategorized

Ireland is My Home – My Story

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Today I wanted to share my memories of growing up in Ireland. The topic of gaining Irish citizenship is something that I have been discussing a lot recently. For those who don’t know, I was not born in Ireland but moved here when I was six years old and have been here ever since (21 years). I have tried to gain Irish citizenship as I see Ireland as my home and I identify as both Irish and Scottish, Scottish by birth but Irish by culture.

Unfortunately, I cannot gain citizenship without paying the huge fee of 1,200 euro, something I just cannot afford and feel is unfair to pay when I came to the country as a child. There are lots of people in Ireland in a similar situation and I am in the process of trying to fight the cost of citizenship for adults who came to the country as children and were raised here. At the end of the day, I feel that people like me prove they are Irish in their upbringing and their day to day lives and not by their ability to pay a a huge fee. To show this, I thought I would share my memories, the good and bad, of being raised in Ireland.

I would really appreciate it if you would sign my petition to support this cause and to join my facebook page and share your story if you are in, or know someone in, a similar situation.



My first memories of Ireland are looking out at the river Shannon from the house we were living in in Ballina, Co. Tipperary. A family friend took my mother, brother and I in when we fled from domestic abuse in Scotland and we lived with him while we got back on our feet. I loved being so close to the water and having ducks sometimes wondering around on the balcony.

I went to the local national school and remember being completely lost when, on my first day, a teacher supervising the school yard said I had to ask her ‘As Gaeilge’ to go the bathroom. I remember being confused by people calling trainers ‘runners’ and their school trousers ‘pants’ but I soon settled in an made friends. I was given the option to be exempt from Irish due to coming to the country late but I chose to give it ago and was soon telling my mother new words I had learned, the first of which being ‘bruscar bruscair’, a term my mother still remembers to this day. I remember having to write down in Irish what the weather was like everyday and on a Monday having to write down as Gaeilge, what we did at the weekend. I was never very good at Irish but I stuck with it and managed to get through secondary school without failing it. Now I enjoy sharing my knowledge of the language with my Spanish partner and am surprised by how much I still remember.

We moved into our first home, across the bridge to Killaloe in Co. Clare and I shared a room with my younger brother. My mother juggled looking after us with working as a housekeeper in a local hotel and doing odd jobs for friends she had made in the town. Looking back, I don’t think I appreciated how the community rallied around us and tried to help when we were struggling. My Mum would starve herself to make sure my brother and I ate but things started to improve and we moved into another place in the town in front of a stud farm. I loved going into the field and trying to make friends with the horses, my favourite being a small brown horse that I called ‘Gypsy’. I spent my days in that field with the horses or running across to my friend’s house across the road. I remember having to cross the bridge (with no footpath at the time) back to Ballina every day in wind, rain, or sunshine to go to school. If we were lucky and my Mum could afford it, we would get a 99 ice-cream cone from the local shop on our way home.

Eventually my Mum met my Godfather which led us to moving to Ennis in Co. Clare. My mother had some trouble getting us into a school as it was still a time in Ireland where divorced parents were looked down upon but, she eventually found us a place. I was nervous starting at a new school, one much bigger than my small school in Ballina, but I settled in as always and made some friends. I started there in second class so as you can imagine, Holy Communions took center stage. My mother decided to have myself and my brother baptized so we wouldn’t feel left out of the festivities and the school/town community. I remember picking out my communion dress from a local shop. I loved the lace and the fact it came with a little white jacket. My Mum went in every week to pay it off little by little until we could take it home. It still hangs in my wardrobe today, a reminder of how hard my Mum worked to get it for me. I was chosen to read one of the Prayers of the Faithful on the big day, something I was very proud of. I remember how packed the cathedral was but how lucky I felt that I got to sit near the front because I was doing a reading. It was a special day for me and family, we really felt part of the community and made a point of trying to go to mass every Sunday during my primary school years.

School had its ups and downs. I loved to learn and was always trying to get more of my teacher’s sparkly reward stickers for my homework journal. I enjoyed playing hurling every Wednesday with the school’s hurling coach and found myself being a decent goal keeper. I was part of the school choir and even got a solo during the choir’s performance at my brother’s communion, something my mother said made her cry. My brother was bullied a lot, being a bit more sensitive than the other boys, and I would run to his defense in the school yard. The principle at the time decided to put down the dreaded yellow lines separating the different years but this rarely stopped me. The bullying would go on for a few years but they eventually left him alone. He soon got into hurling and soccer as well as athletics and became a force to be reckoned with.

Weekends were spent playing outside with the neighbor’s kids or watching Socky and Dustin on the Den. I remember always rushing to watch the Simpsons at 6pm on RTE 2 and hoping it would be a double bill. Pokémon was a firm favourite in the mornings and the whole school became obsessed with collecting the stickers and cards. The next fad was always around the corner, marbles and Yu-gi-oh cards being two that stand out for me.

Before I knew it my confirmation came along and I was back at the front of the church, this time doing the full reading for the presentation of the gifts. I remember being nervous about the two paragraphs that were in Irish, mainly because my teacher wanted me to say the word ‘sliotar’ like ‘shliothar’ and I was struggling the pronunciation. In the end I managed to say it her way. I still have the photo of my family standing with the bishop outside the cathedral and I cringe at the hairstyle I had that I thought was “cool” at the time.

Next it was on to the big wide world of secondary school. I remember when we first moved to Ennis, driving passed St. Flannan’s and thinking it looked liked something from a story book. I pointed to it through the car window and said ‘I want to go there’. It was a boy’s school at the time but luckily they had started to let girls in a few years before I started secondary school so managed to fulfill that little dream of mine. I had kept my love of learning and loved my new school and teachers. Friends came and went as did boyfriends and trends but overall I loved school. I remember the giant, back-breaking school bags, making scoobies key chains and the constant announcements that yet another black sporthouse bag had gone missing. I remember the fear of getting a mark next to your name if you were bad, three marks meaning you got detention. I remember being given out to if you didn’t wear 100% black shoes, if your skirt was rolled up too short or if you wore hoodies in class. I also remember everyone waiting in line at the shop across the road for a chicken roll and eating them at the steps outside the school church.

Being a teenager meant begging to spend Saturday’s in town with my friends, meeting at O’Connell’s statue and usually loitering about at the giant rocks by Dunnes Stores. If it was raining we would all buy a bag of chips so we could sit in the local Supermac’s to keep dry. Saturday’s were taken over by work when I got a job at the local pub/restaurant near my house at 16. I’d buy phone credit and cinema tickets with the money for the weekends I did spend with my friends, or sneakily get pizza delivered for myself and my brother.

I remember around then I went through a tough time in my life and my mental health suffered because of it. I remember the therapist I was referred to saying I was ‘too young to be depressed’ and making me feel more worthless. I remember my first panic attack but not knowing there was a name for it. I remember thinking something was wrong with me and pushing the negativity deep down and replacing it with a suffering smile and the catchphrase ‘I’ll survive’.

Things slowly improved and the dreaded Leaving Cert eventually came by. I did mine the year English Paper 2 was accidentally given out instead of Paper 1. I remember my brother shouting upstairs where I was studying that my exam had been cancelled and thinking it was a joke. It turned out to be true so I had to go in on a Saturday to do the back-up Paper 2 exam. I was just happy that I had an extra half a day to study for maths!

I remember exam weather being in full force through the full two weeks of the exams and the sun beating in on my back as I tried to remember the midpoint formula. I remember the sheer terror of opening the envelope with my results and the joy of passing. I remember getting up at 6am to see my CAO offers and how hard it was to hold in the news while waiting for everyone to wake up. I was finally on my way to becoming a teacher, my career of choice, and I was excited to start this next chapter of my life.

I remember my first day of college, how grown up and independent I felt being out in the world on my own. Moving to Galway with no parents to watch me was freeing and intimidating all at the same time. I wasn’t much of a party goer, much preferring to play games or watch anime with the new friends I had made. I remember us starting our own Anime and Manga convention and feeling like we really achieved something. I remember helping to run the Presidential Award: GAISCE Society and being amazed at the dedication and work people put into achieving the award. I remember living off pasta and praying that my grant money would come in before rent was due and the lines to pick up the cheques when they finally came. I remember avoiding RAG week like the plague and the anger I felt when people said all students were to blame for the destruction that came with it.

It was in college that I first looked into applying for Irish citizenship but, seeing the fee alongside my empty student bank account, it felt hopeless. I remember thinking that there must be some mistake but discovering to to be correct. I remember thinking how unfair it was that I couldn’t be called Irish without paying for the privilege, despite living here almost my entire life.

Soon I had another disappointment that took over. I remember the heartbreak I felt after the government announcement that post-graduate maintenance grants would be taken away. My parents (my Mum and her partner) were both unable to work due to injury and my waitressing job had been lost due to the recession. My dreams, my plans for the future were taken away. All the work I had put into my education was now for nothing, my degree worthless without further study. I remember feeling lost and betrayed and then embarrassed when I had to join the dole queue. I remember how taken advantage of I felt when doing a JobsBridge, working full-time and not having the money to show for it. I wasn’t alone though and that brought a small amount of comfort. Most people my age were in the same position and at least I had a roof over my head.

I remember how bad my mental health was at this point, the depression and anxiety overwhelming me at times. I remember not wanting to ask for help, not wanting to be any more vulnerable than I already was. I remember not being able to go a day without a panic attack and breaking down in front of my doctor who had been waiting for this day to come. I remember the wonderful people at Jigsaw who helped me to keep going and who gave me direction again.

I remember being like everyone else and struggling step by step to get my life back together and how amazing it felt to sign off from the dole. I remember the little spark of hope returning and how tightly I held onto it.

I remember the pride I felt when Ireland, our little country, showed the world the meaning of acceptance, openness and kindness when the gay marriage referendum was passed. I remember crying for those affected by the Cervical Cancer scandal, sypathising with the families affected by the Buncrana pier tragedy, and feeling fear for those living in Dublin when the gang violence led to deaths. Most of all, I remember the 1916 commemoration and celebrating it in Dublin alongside my parent’s wedding. I remember shedding a tear at the speeches given at the Garden of Remembrance and the overwhelming emotion that went through me as I stood in the crowds watching the big screen of the parade through O’Connell Street. I’d never felt so proud of what Ireland fought for, it still brings a tear to my eye as I type this. You could feel the sense of loss and pride in the air and it is a feeling I will never forget.

Now I sit here, writing a brief outline of my memories of living in this beautiful country I call my home and I cant help but feel mixed emotions. I feel pride for my country, in all the difficulties it has faced and overcome and all it has achieved. I feel the happiness in remembering my childhood here and pride for surviving my own personal battles. However, I also feel rejected, hurt and outraged. I have been in Ireland through the good times and the bad. I have stuck by my country through the times it built me up and the times it knocked me down. I stayed though the recession though many others emigrated for better opportunities, I struggled with everyone when times were bad, celebrated our achievements and cried for our failures. Now you tell me that none of that counts, what really counts is a fee you say I should pay for a piece of paper that tells me something I already know: I am Irish.

In my Ireland it is about the community you are part of, your friends and family, your shared memories, your cultural identity, your spirit and your actions that make you Irish. It is also in the small things like debating over Barry’s vs Lyons tea, proudly wearing your Irish rugby jersey, complaining about the weather, saying hello and smiling to people as you pass them, having potatoes with almost every meal and panic buying bread and milk when a storm is due, all our little quirks that make us Irish.

My identity is not something that can be bought. It is a gift that was given to me by all of the people I have met and have influenced me throughout my life. In true Irish fashion, I will not back down, I will fight for what I believe in and I won’t let a government tell me who I am.


Posted in change, depression, Health and Wellbeing, hopeless, mental health, Needs, Psychotherapy, Self-reflection, Uncategorized

10 Myths About Psychotherapy

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Hello everyone and Happy Halloweeeeeen!

I have been discussing my own psychotherapy and how it has been helping me for a little while now but I still notice that a lot of people are afraid to try it for themselves. Though therapy might not be for everyone, a lot of the old misconceptions about it still hang about to this day. I feel that some of these ‘myths’ are the reasons some people don’t want to consider psychotherapy as an option for themselves. Today I hope I can help by debunking some of the myths you might have heard about psychotherapy that might be holding you back from giving it a go!


1. You’ll be lying on a chair, looking up at the ceiling and talking about your mother.

I think a lot of of people picture this image when they think about therapy. It is what we have seen in old movies and read about in old books but in truth, this is not how therapy works these days. This type of therapy is an old version of what is called ‘psychoanalysis’; a type of therapy made popular by the likes of Sigmund Freud. Though you can still find a lot of psychoanalytical therapists around today, most therapists have moved away from this type of therapy or have at least integrated it with other types. Psychoanalysis is seen as the starting point of modern therapy and a lot of therapists that use this method are very good, but they wont make you lie down on a brown leather couch in a mahogany filled office filled with intimidatingly titled books. Though maternal relationships are often discussed in all types of therapy, it certainly doesn’t have to take center stage. No one will try to tell you that you have an Oedipus complex either, unless of course Freud comes back as a ghost this Halloween….




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2. There is only one type of psychotherapy.

One thing I know I didn’t realise before deciding to study in this area is that there are many different types of psychotherapy. We have already skimmed the first type; Psychoanalysis, but there are two other main divisions of therapy: Humanistic and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Humanistic is the more commonly used type of therapy today and has slowly been replacing psychoanalysis. It is what is called a holistic, client/person-centered approach. It generally consists of building a therapeutic client-therapist relationship and allowing the client to realise their own capabilities and creativity. There are many different sub-types of humanistic psychotherapy such as Gestalt Therapy, which focuses on thoughts and emotions in the here and now, and person-centered which is very much about creating a supportive environment for the client to establish their own identity.

CBT is commonly used today for targeting specific behaviors that a client wants to change. It often consists of written exercises like journaling which helps the client to realise certain triggers and patterns that are causing some of the distress in their lives. It is usually used for short term therapy instead of  long-term.

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You can also have Art Therapy, Play Therapy, Body Psychotherapy, Jungian Therapy, Existential Therapy and many, MANY, more. Then you have Integrated Psychotherapy which is a method used a lot today in which a therapist may use a variety of different approaches that they feel may help the client depending on the issues they bring to a session. For example, a humanistic psychotherapist may suggest a CBT exercise to a client if they feel that it may be helpful for them to identify certain triggers for panic attacks.


At the end of the day it is about what feels right for you, so look up some of the different approaches and see if any jump out at you! Then shop around for a therapist who uses that method and see if it is a good fit. If you are a bit overwhelmed about all the different choices then it might help to consult your doctor to see if they have any recommendations. Make sure the therapist you choose has the appropriate accreditation for your country. For Ireland it is best if they are accredited by the IACP, IAHIP or IAPPC. I will leave links to their sites at the end!

3. Your issues aren’t “serious” or “bad” enough for therapy.

You don’t have to have been abused as a child, witness a death, be a victim of domestic violence or rape or anything else you think you need to be “qualified” to see a therapist. You also don’t have to have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, clinical depression, psychopathy or any psychological condition to benefit from therapy. If you are feeling sad or down, anxious or scared, but don’t think you have a reason for it, or if you are grieving for something or someone or just struggling with life in general, there is no issue that is “too small” for therapy. If something is affecting you and you can’t seem to get past it psychotherapy may be able to help. I promise you that no good therapist will turn you away for not having a “serious enough issue” or for not being “crazy enough”.

4. You will be asked ‘and how does that make you feel?’ every 5 seconds.

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Yes, therapy is focused on your thoughts and feelings most of the time, but for the most part the therapist doesn’t talk that much! Roughly 90% of the talking in a therapy session comes from the client. In psychoanalysis the therapist usually doesn’t talk at all! Humanistic types of therapy are where therapists will do a bit more of the talking but even then, it is usually just to make an observation or to ask you what is going on in the moment. CBT therapists often only talk to discuss the things that have come up as a result of one of the exercises you have done the previous week, and to help you to notice patterns from it. Therapy is about you so you are the one who does the talking!


5. A therapist will tell you what to do to be happy.

If only it was that simple! Therapists do not have all the answers to our problems. They are there to help us find our own answers because at the end of the day, the only person that can tell you what is best for you is YOU! No-one will ever know you better than yourself, so unless therapists suddenly develop mind-reading powers we have to try and figure it out. They might not be able to give you all the answers but they are there to support you in finding the strength and confidence to make the choices that are best for you.

6. You are paying them huge money to sit in a room and listen to you complain aka to do nothing.

Because of point number 4 this often becomes and issue for people. Therapists don’t give you the golden ticket to life or a book that will tell you how to be happy forever or have a secret potion that will make all your problems go away. So why bother with them? Like I said, therapists are there to support you. Their job is to provide a safe place for you to express what is troubling you in your life and to help you to discover what is holding you back from being happy. They can help you to unlock feelings and thoughts that might be unhealthily buried deep within but are holding you back from having a full life, they can help you to come to terms with a traumatic event or they can just be someone that listens to you when you feel like no-one else will. People go to therapy for many different reasons which is why it is important that you trust the therapeutic process but also speak up if you feel it isn’t helping. Tell your therapist if you feel like it isn’t working, they wont be hurt or insulted. Maybe they need to try a different approach with you or maybe they just aren’t the right fit for you. In that case they will be more than happy to recommend someone else who might be better suited to you.

7. You are just a paycheck to a therapist.

Gregory Reid; prop styling by Renee Flugge

Though therapists obviously need money to pay the bills and fund their own life, don’t think that they see you as a just a quick buck. Most people (remember, they are people too!) who become therapists have done so because they want to help people, or have had to have therapy themselves and want to give back. They have been trained to leave their work in the workplace just like everyone else but trust me, they will think about you and your situation sometimes outside of work. Therapists are human beings and they have been successful in their career because they are good at feeling empathy towards others. They may be holding a straight face in a session but sometimes what you say will really emotionally affect them. It is however, their job to be their for you and not the other way around  so they just wont show how much it affects them in front of you. That is for their own therapist to deal with!

8. They will just try to fill you with drugs.

Psychotherapists are not medically trained so they are not qualified to give you any sort of medication. They can of course recommend discussing the idea of medication with your GP or psychiatrist (if you have one) but they are there to listen, not to dose you up. Medication can be very helpful in some situations and can actually allow you to get the most out of therapy. It might be worth chatting to your GP about it but as for your psychotherapist they won’t be prescribing anything but mindfulness, exercise and self-care!

9. You will feel better straight away.

Unfortunately this is not usually the case. You will have some sessions where you come out feeling amazing but other sessions you will feel worse than when you went in. For those just starting therapy, this is’t very motivating to go back, which is understandable; why pay to go somewhere where you leave crying your eyes out? Therapy can bring out some very deep rooted emotions and issues that you could have been unknowingly carrying around for a long time. Uprooting these emotions can be painful and make you feel worse at the start but by exploring them you can begin to properly heal by accepting these feelings. Therapy is not easy but I advise you to stick with it! If you really feel that you are just getting worse instead of better, discuss this with your therapist and doctor and see if they can help to make the process more easy for you.

10. Therapists have it all figured out.

Though therapists are trained in how to help people cope with all the things life throws at them, that does not mean they are happy, content and fulfilled 100% of the time. It can be hard to practice what you preach so don’t think that your therapist’s life is perfect. They have their own issues too and could also be seeing a therapist! They just generally won’t disclose any personal issues to you because it is seen as bad practice and they are there to support you, not the other way around!


I hope this little myth-busting blog has been helpful to calm some people’s fears around the idea of going to s psychotherapist. It can be a scary decision to make but for some it can be completely life changing!

I hope you all have a fun, safe Halloween! Try not to eat too many sweets!


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Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, hopeless, mental health, Needs, Psychotherapy, Relationships, Self-reflection, Uncategorized

Tainted Happiness

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Happy October everyone! Today’s blog is going to be about something that has been annoying me about myself for the last week or two. I think a lot of people can go through something similar from time to time so I hope some of you can relate to it.

Have you ever had one of those blessed times in your life where everything seems to be going your way? Your career is going in the right direction, your surrounded by friends and family that love and care about you and you’re in an honest and loving relationship with a partner that supports you? A lot of us spend countless days wishing to be in this exact situation. Sure, maybe not everything is 100% perfect, but for the most part we are happy and fulfilled with our life in moments like these.

I am lucky enough to be in a moment like this in my life right now. I start my masters in psychotherapy in just over a week; a career step I have been wanting to take for years. I live in a house with my brother and friends who care about me and get on well together (for the most part!). I’m being more social and seeing more people I like to spend time with, and I have been in a relationship for about a month now with a wonderful guy that is very loving and supportive and who I can be totally honest with. To a lot of people I am living the dream.

So why am I terrified?

Sometimes there is a little voice at the back of my head that reminds me that all of this could fall apart at any moment. I might not be smart enough for my masters. Everyone in the house could start fighting or decide I don’t belong there. My depression could hit and ruin any motivation I have to be social. My boyfriend could suddenly get bored of me and leave. I have spent so long wanting all of the things that I now have but I’m constantly anxious about trying to make sure that I get to keep them. After all the time and work I have put into myself over the last few years to try and find what makes me happy, I’m still not allowing myself to be happy because I’m afraid of losing it all now that I have it.

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It is frustrating to watch myself be like this. I feel I should be able to sit back and enjoy what I have, but instead I’m living in constant fear. Why I am doing this? Why am I waiting for it to all fall apart instead of enjoying it while I have it? Am I that ungrateful? Is it just impossible for me to happy? Some of the answers came in the form of my most recent therapy session.

I have had issues with rejection and abandonment for many years. It is something I’m aware of but didn’t realise just how badly these issues can affect me in my daily life. While having another talk about my needs (see my previous blog post about ‘Needs’ here for some context) it hit me that I won’t accept the happiness in my life because I am in a constant state of anticipating rejection. I can’t ask other people for some of my needs to be met because I feel like I don’t deserve to ask that of anyone. Then, when people are trying to meet my needs without me even asking by giving me things such as love and support, I can’t truly accept it because I expect it to be taken away. So what do I do? I reject them and myself before they have the chance to reject me. I tell myself (sometimes without realising it) that what they are trying to give me is temporary and that I shouldn’t get used to it. I reject the idea that they want to give me these things simply because they want to, and don’t have any intention of taking it away. I reject the idea that I am deserving enough for them to want to do that for me.

Though it is not impossible for the things going well in my life to suddenly go wrong, I will never truly be able to be happy if I live in constant fear of this small possibility. I am spending all of my energy focusing on something that may never happen. How long am I going to allow myself to stand around anticipating the worst case scenario instead of enjoying the happy scenario that I’m already in? They say that worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. I can’t see the future so why am I trying to? I can see what is happening right now, so I should be focusing on something I can do, instead of something I can’t.

Happiness shouldn’t be scary, it should be happy. Happiness is happy, it is me that is tainting it with fear. I think it is time to get out of the rocking chair…..


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Posted in change, depression, Health and Wellbeing, mental health, Needs, Psychotherapy, Self-reflection, Uncategorized

The “Nice Girl” Problem

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A lot of people think that when you go to therapy all you do is sit there and complain about your life, how horrible it was or is, and your therapist will tell you how to fix it. Unfortunately that is not the case. Psychotherapy is a journey you and your therapist take together. Only you have the map to go where you want to go, but the therapist can help you to understand the map when you are struggling to read it.

Sometimes therapy can bring something to light that makes your entire belief system quiver. It can challenge your morals and question the way you think. I personally find that one of the hardest things to get through is questioning something about your personality that you always thought was a good thing. Now that doesn’t mean that this good thing isn’t good, (or that it is actually bad) but maybe it’s not as good as you once thought. I had one of these moments in therapy recently so I thought I would share it with you to show a side of therapy that maybe you haven’t experienced before.

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I see myself as a nice person. Generally most people will say they same, especially when I meet new people. Just this weekend I was told by a new acquaintance that I’m a ‘really nice, lovely girl’. I went through a period in my early 20’s where I was surrounded by friends that would gossip behind each others back. I was also very guilty of this and decided I didn’t like the person I was becoming. I decided to distance myself from these people for my own well being, not that they were awful people, just not the people I needed around me at that time. Ever since I have been especially careful to be nice to people and not gossip or say mean things behind anyone’s back.

Overall being nice to people is a great thing. Trying to see things from their point of view and not judging them is an excellent skill to have and I pride myself on being a nice, understanding person. However, sometimes I can take this too far. It was pointed out to me in therapy that though being like this is wonderful, sometimes it makes us push down our actual feelings about people.

Recently I have had a very strong feeling of disgust towards someone. I would tell myself that I was being mean and horrible for feeling this way about the person. They didn’t deserve such a strong feeling from me, they aren’t a bad person and I was being a less than nice person for feeling this way. I should be more understanding of this person and not judge them so much for the bad choices (in my opinion) they are making. I told my therapist about this and she was delighted that I had brought a negative feeling about someone to the session. She had asked me in previous sessions where “dark Valerie” is, as even when I tell her something negative someone may have done that hurt me/affected me in some way, I always had a justification of why they aren’t bad people. I will always try to explain that they are great people and though they may have done this one bad thing they have done these twenty good things or had these thirty bad things happen to them that made them do this one bad thing to me. I always have to justify why I shouldn’t feel anything negative towards people.

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It doesn’t have to be someone close to me, I do this almost every time I have a negative thought or feeling about someone. I could be walking down the street and see a girl wearing an outfit that I immediately think is hideous. Instead of just letting myself have that thought and carrying on with my day I will start to justify them and berate myself. I will think things like ‘but she might really like the outfit and feel really confident and pretty in it. I’m no fashion expert so who am I to say her outfit is awful? I shouldn’t be so quick to judge something like that, I need to stop doing that‘.

It is a good thing to try understand things from all sides, don’t get me wrong, but by trying to justify why this person doesn’t deserve my negative feeling towards them, I am in turn rejecting my own feelings. I am telling myself that having a negative feeling towards someone is not allowed, that it makes me a bad person, that it means I’m not a “nice girl”. In truth it doesn’t. We all have negative feelings or thoughts towards people at some stage and that is ok. These feelings are just as legitimate as positive feelings and shouldn’t be ignored. Feeling disgust for someone doesn’t make me a bad person. I’m not going around screaming at this person that they are disgusting or lazy just like I’m not chasing the girl down the street to tell her that her outfit is hideous. I’m not hurting their feelings by allowing myself to feel negatively about them.

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When first confronted by the idea that I’m justifying my negative feelings away I felt quite frustrated. I felt like I was being accused of being a fake, that I wasn’t actually a nice girl, I was just pretending to be. The more I think about it though the more I know that it’s not true. I still find  it hard to wrap my head around the fact that thinking/feeling negatively about someone doesn’t equate to me being mean to them. To be honest I am still finding it hard to separate the two. My ability to understand where people might be coming from and seeing their point of view is one of the biggest things I take pride in. One of the ways this understanding manifests is my constant justification of other people’s actions. I need to work on finding the balance between being an understanding person or “nice girl” and allowing myself to feel negative emotions and have negative thoughts without the immediate need to justify them away and berating myself for having them. 

I hope this little story gave you something to think about. I am constantly reminded how amazingly complex our minds are and how good we are at finding ways to make us feel bad about ourselves. Remember to be kind to yourself and not just to others!


Until next time!



Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, hopeless, mental health, Suicide, Uncategorized

Darkness Into Light

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Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about an amazing event that I and thousands of others are taking part in on the 12th of May 2018. Darkness Into Light is a fundraising walk that takes place every year to promote suicide awareness and raise much needed funds for Pieta House, a charity that provides free supports for people who are contemplating suicide, have attempted suicide or have engaged in self harm. If you would like more information about this wonderful organisation or the Darkness Into Light events being held around the world, I will leave the links to their websites below.

Pieta House:

Darkness Into Light:

If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I am very passionate about promoting mental health awareness, so it is a privilege to be able to participate in such

Image result for together in darknessan amazing event. To put things in perspective, Ireland is currently ranked 4th in the world for suicide rates among young men aged 18-24 (, and Galway City was the 7th highest ranked area  in Ireland for female suicides between 2014-2016 (Central Statistics Office). In 2016 alone, there were 399 confirmed suicides in Ireland. Those were 399 human lives tragically cut short. 399 families who lost someone they loved. 399 people who the world didn’t get to help. 399 futures lost. For most of us, even 1 is too many.

Darkness Into Light is one of the small ways we can help to raise awareness, show our support and try to save lives. If you would like to help too but can’t take part in the walk yourself, I would appreciate it if you could sponsor my walk by donating whatever you can to Pieta House via the link here. Every cent counts and your donation will go towards saving lives and preventing suicide.

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Depression, self harm and suicide can affect anyone at anytime. It could be yourself, a friend, a colleague or even a family member, so please do what you can to keep services like Pieta House available to those who need it.

If you suffer from depression or have thought about harming yourself, I have left some links below with information that can help you. You are not alone and help is out there. Please reach out to services like Pieta House, they care about you and will do everything they can to help you.


Thank you in advance to everyone who donates, takes part, or just generally supports services like Pieta House. Slowly, we are all working towards a world without suicide.

I hope you all enjoy your bank holiday weekend! Please don’t forget to donate by following the link below!

Link to my Darkness Into Light fundraising page:


Services if you are contemplating suicide or self harm:



Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, Needs, Uncategorized

8 Things I Do To Spring Clean My Body

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No, I’m not talking about intensely scrubbing myself down in the shower!

I’m talking about a few things I have been doing recently to help boost my body internally. I always find that I feel a lot better within myself when I’m eating food that is good for me and treating my body well. I very much believe in the saying ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’ so I wanted to share some of the things I do to try and have a healthy lifestyle. I hope you enjoy!

1. Try to get at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day.

I’m not a believer in crash diets or juice cleanses. I think that just eating the right foods is enough to lose weight (if that is your aim) or to help your body to stay healthy. A big part of this is making sure you get your daily intake of fruit and veg. It is easier than you think to sneak in fruit and vegetables to your daily routine. I love taking chopped carrot and cucumber to work as a snack to munch on during my tea break. Recently though I have been making an easy, healthy breakfast smoothie that I have fallen in love with. I’ll leave the recipe below!

Breakfast Smoothie Recipe (1 serving)

1 large ripe banana

1 ripe pear

1 generous handful of spinach (fresh or frozen)

2 teaspoons of hemp protein powder

1-1 1/2 glasses of water

2. Turmeric Shots

If you are like me and get bloated easily, finding something natural to help aid in digestion can make you feel a lot better. I try to start the morning with my anti-bloating immunity shot. This thing packs a punch and is not meant to taste good! If you haven’t tried a turmeric shot before beware that your bowl movements can be affected for the first few days while your body gets used to it. I will leave my recipe for it below but there are loads online. Simply heat the water, add the ingredients and let them blend together. Once cool you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

Turmeric Shot

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1 tablespoon of turmeric

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon of ginger

1 table spoon of honey

Juice of 1 orange

1/4 of a cup of apple cider vinegar

4 cups of filtered water


3. Drinking lots of water

This is one you hear all the time but it really does make you feel better. It helps to clear up my troublesome skin and I’m less hungry because I’m properly hydrated. If you think water tastes too plain try to add some lemon, lime, cucumbers, berries, whatever you like to give your water some added flavor.

4. Cutting out the added sugar

My skin is very reactive to sugar. If I eat too much added sugar I will break out almost immediately, not to mention I will feel sluggish after the sugar high. It is not easy to stay away from added sugar. Alcohol, fizzy drinks, sauces, salad dressings, sweets, yogurts, takeaways, they all have  a lot of hidden sugars in them! Every so often I try to go a full week (or more) with no added sugars just to give my body a bit of a break. Fruit can be a life saver for sugar cravings!

5. Cutting out the caffeine

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I’ve never been a crazy caffeine addict but I do enjoy my two cups of coffee a day and I am a big fan of green tea. When I do my week or two of cutting out added sugar I also cut all caffeine out of my diet. A lot of people don’t realize the amount of caffeine they drink can be harming them, and that is before you take into account extras like whipped cream, sugar and syrups. The equivalent of three cups of coffee is the recommended maximum amount of caffeine you should have per day. If you can’t cut it out, at least try to reduce the amount you consume. Remember, caffeine isn’t just in coffee! It is in regular tea, green tea, energy drinks and a lot of fizzy drinks.

6. Exercise 

This is by far the hardest thing for me. I can be quite lazy and unmotivated to do intense exercise so I at least try to get in a long walk or two during the day. Try not to sit or lie down for longer than an hour. Even if you get up and stretch every hour it will help. Maybe throw in some jumping jacks!

7. Yoga

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This is a new thing I have just started. The type I am doing is more meditative and stretching based which is why I didn’t put it under exercise. It is an hour and a half of pure me time that is also great for my body and mind. I always feel great after it and my body gets a good stretching out which feels amazing afterwards. I also find that I have a good nights sleep after it too!

8. Less stress more sleep!

Stress can harm you in so many ways, mind and body. Personally my anxiety isn’t great in times of stress and my neck, shoulders and lower back become tense and painful. I try my best to stay away from stressful situations or at least try to tackle them as best as I can when they can’t be avoided. Stress often affects our sleep which can put a lot of pressure on our bodies to perform without proper rest. So try to stay away from stress and get your 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Being well rested can make a huge difference!

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So those are some of the things I have been doing to try and keep myself healthy. Most of them are ones you hear all the time so I would be interested in any ideas you have for me to try!

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Posted in Children's Mental Health, Uncategorized

Think Before You Speak


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‘Think before you speak’ is something we hear from a young age but it is advice we often ignore.

It is Children’s Mental Health Week in Britain this week and I really wanted to write a blog post about it as it is an area I am very passionate about. Research in the UK has suggested that ‘Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood, with 75% of mental illnesses starting before a child reaches their 18th Birthday’. Furthermore, ‘75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment’. (The Guardian 2017) To me this is unacceptable and something needs to be done. There are many topics surrounding this issue that need to be spoken about but I thought I would share one of the biggest things I have come to realise affect our emotional stability as we grow.

I am not an expert in this subject by any means, but I have been fortunate to learn about it through briefly studying Child Psychology and Psychotherapy and I think the more people that are aware of it the better. The area I want to discuss is the language that we use around children.

More and more we are learning that ignoring/repressing our feelings are harming us in very real ways. We often ask ourselves why we do it, why we don’t feel comfortable expressing and talking about our feelings, why we struggle to control our emotions in a healthy way. I think one of the answers to this is that we are told to do so from the moment we are born.

When a newborn child cries, it’s parent’s first reaction is to try and soothe it. One of the most common ways people do this is holding the child and saying something along the lines of ‘shhhh it’s ok, don’t cry‘.

When a toddler throws a tantrum over not getting the toy it wants and hits the other child playing with it, again a parent want’s to calm the child and will often tell them to ‘calm down‘ or they will become angry with the child and say something along the lines of ‘don’t you dare‘, ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘.

When an older child comes home crying from school because someone calls them a name, again, a parent will try to soothe them by saying something like ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘.

When a teenager is screaming at their parent because they wont let them go to a party, the frustrated parent will often scream back and/or say things like ‘don’t raise your voice at me’, ‘what are you upset for, it’s just a party’ or just ignore them and tell them to ‘go to your room’.

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It may not be immediately obvious but there is a pattern here. Though we don’t mean to, we are dismissing our children’s feelings and emotions, or worse, telling them not to feel that emotion. This blog isn’t meant to make anyone feel like a bad parent, or to tell you to never discipline your kids, it is meant to make you re-think the language you use around your children when they are expressing a feeling.

I took part in group therapy for a while last year and one of the most common themes that came up was that some felt it was unacceptable to show certain feelings around their parents growing up. One participant suffered with anger issues and felt that during his childhood he was always told that expressions of anger such as shouting were “unacceptable”. Another participant felt that crying was a sign of weakness to his parents or even a “woman’s thing to do”. Another person felt they always had to be perfect because they didn’t want to be like their sibling who had tantrums and got into trouble for it a lot.

Though parent’s mean well when soothing or disciplining their child, I think a lot of them don’t realise how much of an effect what they say has on their children’s mental health. Again, I am not here to tell you how to raise your child or to criticize your parenting skills. I simply want to show you how small changes in what you say could have a big difference in your child’s mental development.

The key thing I feel is to never say ‘Don’t feel (emotion)’. By doing this you are unconsciously sending the message to your child not to feel, or that feeling certain emotions is wrong. Instead it is very important that you let them know that the feeling they are having is valid and normal. Take the earlier example of the toddler throwing a tantrum. Instead of saying ‘don’t hit your friend‘ or ‘don’t throw a tantrum‘, try saying something along the lines of ‘I understand that you are angry because you want the toy and that is ok but it is not ok to hurt another person. Why don’t you apologise to your friend and we can talk about why you are angry together.’

I’m not saying that this exact conversation will stop the tantrum or make the toddler forget about the toy. The important thing is that you are acknowledging the feeling, letting them know that having that feeling is ok, and trying to get them to express that feeling verbally with you. You are still making the toddler acknowledge the bad behaviour (the hitting) but not dismissing the feeling that caused the bad behaviour (the anger).

The same thing can be done with the upset child who was called a name. Instead of saying ‘don’t cry‘, ‘you don’t need to be upset‘ or ‘it doesn’t matter‘, you could say something like ‘It is ok to cry when you feel upset, I’m sure what happened hurt your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it and see if we can come up with a solution together‘.

In this example, you are again acknowledging the child’s emotion and letting them know that crying is a valid response to feeling upset. You are also not dismissing the importance of the event to the child by saying that the event doesn’t matter. Instead, you are teaching the child to accept what has happened, talk about it and see if there is something that can be done.

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Image from the See Me Video Campaign

Little adjustments like this in any situation where a child is trying to express an emotion can make a huge difference on how they handle their emotions later in life. Remember, it is important that you as the parent practice what you preach. By seeing a parent deal with emotions in a healthy way, the child can learn by example. If I child sees their Mother or Father trying to hide emotions, it is quite possible that they will copy this behaviour. Children, especially very young children, idolize their parents and will try to copy what they do. It is important to recognize your own reactions to emotions and ask yourself if you are dealing with them in a healthy and constructive way, only then can we successfully teach our children how to handle their feelings properly.

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas to try and help the emotional education of the children in your life. Everyone’s mental health is important so it is imperative that we all try and support each other when we are struggling. Being a parent is the toughest job in the world so remember to check in with yourself and your own mental and physical health. The best way to look after the child in your life is to make sure you are at your best so take of yourself and remember, there is no such thing as the perfect parent.

I have left some links for you to check out if you want more information on children’s mental health. I hope you find them useful.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!






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Posted in Uncategorized

My Favourite CBT Exercise

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The Cognitive Model by

CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is a popular form of intervention for people who struggle with certain mental health issues. It is generally a short-term form of therapy that deals with a very specific problem you are having. It tries to help you to understand your own thoughts and feelings and how they influence your behaviors. It is often exercise or “homework” based so you can write down and identify some behavioral patterns.

Though the main therapy I receive is not CBT, I have done a few CBT exercises throughout the years, and there is one that has always stuck out to me. I thought I would share it with you since it doesn’t take up a lot of time and you might find it interesting! It is mainly used for people with depression and/or anxiety but anyone can do it. It is quite simple; all you need is a pen and paper.

The Exercise:

  1. Get your piece of paper and draw a line from one side to the other.
  2. Mark the end of the line on the left hand side with the number ‘1’ and the other end of the line on the right hand side with the number ‘10’.
  3. Think about your mood right now and look at the line. With 1 being the most depressed/ anxious you could ever imagine feeling and 10 being the happiest and most fulfilled you could ever imagine being, think about where you would place yourself on the line right now and give it a number.
  4. Once you are happy with the number you have chosen, think of the number above it i.e if you selected the number 4, think of the number 5. Think about what it would take for you to go from your current number to the number above it. What would need to happen for you to get there? Are there people who could help you get there? Can you take any steps today to get yourself there? You can jot down some thoughts in between the numbers.
  5. Once you have done Step 4 look at the number 10 on the far right hand side of the line. What would your life look like if you were there? What would you be doing? Would you have a career? Where would you live? Would you be travelling? What would your relationships with other people be like? Make sure your number 10 is realistic and achievable (time travelling, married to celebrities, ruler of the world type things should be avoided!) Write down some thoughts about what your life would be like at number 10.
  6. Once you have done Step 5, write down what you could do in the next few days to start moving towards the number above the one you are currently at. Then look at what you can do in the next few weeks etc. Write down what you need to do.
  7. When you are happy with your plan to get to the next number, think about your number 10. Write down what you could do in the next week, month, and then the next year etc to get you to your number 10. Make a promise to yourself that you will take at least one step, no matter how small, this week to start moving towards your number 10. Remember you can include talking to someone who you think can help you get there!




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It may not sound like much, but this exercise really helped me to focus and figure out what I wanted out of life. It made me realise the career I wanted and within a week, as I had promised myself, I had taken a small step to work towards that goal.

If you are feeling lost, unmotivated, or hopeless, like I was at the time, I highly suggest giving this a try. It really helps you to find a small bit of direction in your life. Even if you don’t know where you are right now, it should at least help you to find where you want to go and help you to forge a path to get there. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself when thinking about what you need to do to get to your number 10. Slow and steady wins the race, so try to figure out small daily/weekly steps you can take to make you head in the right direction.

I hope you found this useful or at least a little bit interesting! If you did it, let me know what you thought of it, and if it helped!














Posted in Uncategorized

Patience is a Virtue

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Little by Little

One step and then another,

And the longest walk is ended;

Once stitch and then another,

And the largest rent is mended;

One brick upon another,

And the highest wall is made;

One flake upon another,

And the deepest snow is laid.


Then do not look disheartened

O’er  the work you have to do,

And say that such a mighty task

You never can get through;

But just endeavor, day by day,

Another point to gain;

And soon the mountain which you feared

Will prove to be a plain.

‘Rome was not built within one day’,

The ancient proverb teaches;

And Nature, by her trees and flowers,

The same sweet sermon preaches.

Think not of far-off duties,

But of duties which are near;

And, having once begun to work,

Resolve to persevere.



A copy of the above poem was given to me by a friend and colleague as she departed to another job. It is currently pinned to my notice board at work, always in sight, to remind me the value of patience.

The proverbial phrase ‘patience is a virtue’ is, in my opinion, one of the truest statements ever said. In our current modern world, everything is instant. You can search for information and have the answer back in seconds with a quick internet search. Almost everything we could ever want is just the click of a button away. Why wait in a queue when you can order what you want online and have it delivered to your door? Food, clothes, furniture, conversation, it is all available at lightning speed online. So why wait for anything? Why do we need patience in this fast-paced world we have become accustomed to?

Patience is a virtue. It comes in many forms whether it is waiting for the cheese to melt on chips, waiting for your child to learn that screaming won’t get them what they want, or waiting for yourself to work through the stages of grief. Patience is needed but often hard to put into practice. I find that it isn’t patience with other people or things that we have the most trouble with, but patience with ourselves. We grow up wanting to become an adult so badly, waiting and waiting, impatient for the freedom that comes with being independent. We dream of getting the college course we want, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect partner, the perfect children. When adulthood finally comes around, we expect what we want to happen instantly, like our internet searches. Eventually the reality hits in; we have to be patient, we have to wait.

When what we want doesn’t come as quickly as we had hoped we have a terrible habit of losing patience with ourselves. We start to blame, berate and bully ourselves for the imagined shortcomings we have that are holding us back. Why didn’t I save more money? Why am I not learning fast enough? Why did I make this decision? Why didn’t I see this coming? Why can’t I get a high paying job? Why can’t I afford to buy a house? Why can’t I do it? Why is it working out for everyone else? There must be something wrong with me. I must be stupid. I must not be trying hard enough. I must not be good enough. I’ll never achieve anything.

We are so quick to convince ourselves that there is something wrong with us. In a world of social media where we only show our successes, it is easy to think everyone else has the perfect life and that we are getting left behind. It is easy to think ‘what is the point?’ and give up. Just because something isn’t easy and takes time, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. We need to slow down and remember that good things come to those who wait. Focus on the little steps you can take every day to work towards you goals. Don’t knock yourself down because others are achieving their goals faster than you. Why should we expect the journey to achieving our own goals in life to be the same as someone else’s? Every life is different with its own unique experiences, how could our journeys possibly be the same?

The beginning of the year is a time for fresh starts and new goals. As you continue into this year, remember to be patient with yourself. Whatever promises you have made to yourself for this year make sure they are realistic, and what you really want to do. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a slip or aren’t doing as well as you thought. Don’t berate yourself for not doing as well as someone else. Try to focus on the steps YOU have taken to achieve your goals, no matter how small they may seem.  Life is not a race, so be kind and patient with yourself this year, as well as remembering to savor every moment instead of letting your mind race off ahead of you.


Wishing you all the best for this year!



Posted in Uncategorized


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I wasn’t going to write about this topic because it is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and rightly so. I think some of my thoughts surrounding the matter are quite controversial, so I was originally going to keep quiet. However, keeping quiet is what led to issues like this going on for so long, and staying silent just because I’m afraid of backlash seems silly considering the circumstances. No one will ever 100% agree with what you say, but it doesn’t mean it is not worth saying. This topic hits home for me a lot so I ask that you be respectful, as I have tried to be, if giving a response.

In this blog post I will be sharing  some of the thoughts I have been having about the #TimesUp movement, and the sexual abuse and harassment allegations currently taking over the entertainment industry.

First of all I would like to say that any person who has come forward after being sexually harassed or abused is a very brave person. To have something like that happen to you and then re-live it as you tell someone about it must be a very difficult and upsetting thing to do.  I commend anyone who has done it. You are an inspiration to others and it is thanks to the strength of people like you that others feel strong enough to come forward. No one, male or female, young or old, should have to feel objectified, scared or threatened anywhere in the world including their work place, home or on the street. The recent allegations have brought to light just how bad an issue this still is, but at least it gives us hope that we are now trying to make a world free of harassment, abuse and silence.

Though the #TimesUp movement is something I support, there is another side to all of this, a side I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about because of fear of upsetting or disrespecting true victims of these awful crimes. From the moment the Harvey Weinstein allegations came to light, dozens of other allegations against people in the entertainment industry have also surfaced. Though it is sad to think we still live in a society where men and women can be manipulated, abused, threatened and silenced because of the abuse of power by others, there is another harsh reality that we must also face. This reality is that there are some twisted, sick people out there who put forward false allegations.

These people not only ruin the lives of the people they accuse, but they also undermine the truth of those people who have genuinely come forward with their stories of sexual abuse and harassment. In my opinion, these people are just as bad as the true predators that commit these horrible crimes. When sexual harassment and abuse is truly reported and the person is convicted, there are still no true “winners”. The attacker’s life is rightly ruined because of their actions and the victim has to live with what has happened to them for the rest of their lives. However, when someone is falsely accused and even proven innocent, that allegation follows them for the rest of their lives. Despite not doing anything wrong, people still wonder if it was true, still look at them differently, still think of them differently. Though innocent, they can still get a life sentence.

My goal when talking about this issue is not to try and silence victims of sexual harassment or abuse, or convince you that they are liars. My goal here is to talk about how false allegations, especially of this nature, can be life-ruining for those accused. Due in part to the momentum behind the #TimesUp movement, a lot of brave people will come forward with their true stories about their terrible experiences. For their bravery I hope they are rewarded with justice. However, there will be a select few who will make false allegations to get their 15 minutes of fame, to get pity and attention from others, to get revenge on someone they dislike, whatever their reasons. By doing this they could ruin the life of a good person and call into question the true allegations brought forward by true victims.


All I ask is that when you next see an allegation in the media, stop and think about what you are hearing/reading. I ask you to remember the lives of the people involved in the allegations, both the accuser and the accused. I ask you to remember that in our mostly democratic world, people are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around.

We live in dark times, but slowly we are trying to better ourselves. For every rapist, terrorist, murderer, abuser, and silencer, there are ten of us that choose love, hope, kindness, gentleness, inclusion, understanding and laughter. There is hope for us, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. To achieve a world that is safe for future generations, we must stand together and fight for something better. We just need to make sure we are not sacrificing innocent people along the way.

I have left some links below for anyone who feels they have been the victim of sexual harassment or abuse. I implore you to use them. They will listen and they will do their best to help you, you just have to take the first step.


Rape Crisis Ireland:


Helplines (UK):