“Delivering serious fun” is a pretty hard tagline for a conference to live up to, but with music, competitions and spot prizes on offer, as well as interesting talks and workshops, Youth Work Ireland’s conference in Dublin Castle on October 11 shouldn’t disappoint.
They’re an organisation that encourages young people to actively participate in civic and social life in Ireland, and they offer services like youth clubs and youth cafés with the help of over 7,000 volunteers. The conference will include workshops in fundraising for youth clubs and raising awareness of their services, as well as a “Club Taster Session” with cool new ideas you can bring back to your own club.
On top of a keynote speech from the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs James Reilly, there’ll also be input from youth club workers, members and volunteers on the serious but challenging work such clubs engage in, but in a fun and open way. The conference is open to anyone who’s involved in youth clubs, and the registration fees are as follows:
They’ll also be hosting the Volunteer Achievement Awards on the day, and if you’re an artsy type you might even try your hand at designing a flag which symbolises what your youth club is all about- it’ll be flown over Dublin Castle, and the winning flag gets a prize.
You can find out about all the events and activities by clicking here.
Like so many others I reached a point in my life where I was so preoccupied with trying to find happiness I would have done anything to attain it. It was not that I was sad; it was what almost felt like a profound realisation that no one else had. I felt like I held the truth of the world, and that I being a minister of this truth gave it the justification to let it take over my life.
I knew the truth of reality, and that truth was that we are all alone, that no matter what we only have ourselves to rely on. That is the truth of reality. But so often the truth itself lies and that is the real truth of depression - the truth lies. We ponder these existential questions every single day and it doesn’t seem to bother most, but to a depressive who has nothing but their thoughts, emotions and a distorted reality to rely on these are the single most important questions in which an answer must be sought. This article is not supposed to be an anatomy of depression, but rather a narrative of how I had come to lose my identity and it was in the aftermath of my depression that a new one was forged.
Depression is a profound insight; it is in this insight that we search for meaning in life. In searching for meaning we so often look outwards, yet it’s looking inward to your own experience of trauma where meaning will be forged. You need to recall the tragedy of depression and fold it into a powerful story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you came to triumph over adversity.
I was 19 when I first had depression; it lasted for over a year. And in that time I lost almost everything, I lost my savings, my confidence, my romantic relationship broke down, I lost friends, and I almost lost my life on one occasion. I did not understand what was wrong with me, even though close friends pleaded with me to seek help I did not. Instead it festered and lingered, and the beast eventually went into hiding after a year. Sufferers like myself, will understand how the mask of appearance can be so tiring. Social settings can be exhausting. I just didn't want to leave my bed.
Two years later I was rejected from two masters courses because of results gained in my second year of college of which 30% went to my final grade. This was the year I was sick. I was in a job that I hated, selling computer software, in a relationship, which was faltering, and living almost alone in an apartment just too far outside the city to walk to it. Time went on, and I fought with myself for just under a year again as I spiraled into a far more suffocating depression at the age of 22 and it too was to last for almost another year.
I remember the day that I really reached out, as a 22 year old I did what anyone would do - I sought the comfort of my mother. I phoned her that day and I said, “Mom, something is very wrong, I am very sick, and I really need to talk to someone."
Over the course of the next few months I was to delve far back into my childhood and face the demons I had avoided over the past few years leading up to that moment. I started to write again, which I had not done since I was 18. I started to paint again, to draw, to express my emotions and deal with years upon years of pain and suffering through therapy.
Halfway through my therapy I stopped taking my medication. I had no semblance of what it meant to be me, and I couldn't help but question whether the medication I was taking was making me more like me, or forging a new me with medication.
I applied for college once again and while I waited for the yes or no, I also worked on getting the cap on my grades from second year over turned. I spent a year correcting the damage that the 19 year old me did to himself. But I forgive him for that.
In my depression, I tried to forge meaning from it, and it shaped me as a person. Depression helped to shape my personality today and I am forever grateful for it. I worked to build a person from almost nothing after it broke me down over the course of 3 years and I finally sought help. It was in working from the inside out, rather than the outside in which I had tried to do on many occasions, that changed my perspective on everything as I had tried to do so many times.
It made me realise that despite the hardship I had to endure, it allowed me to treat a sickness within me that would have got worse had it been left untouched. Of course, I am not saying that depression is a good thing since it is quite the opposite. Rather what I am saying, is that if we can try to realise that there is a reason for it, then you can try to get better.
It is through adversity that we shape our identity, and meaning comes pouring from it. We could go through life without all the confetti filled evenings and strawberry sunshine mornings and still have identity...but we could not forge an identity without our misfortunes.
When you are sick, you are sick. When you are sad, you are sad, and when you are melancholy then it’s ok to be so. It’s important to accept that negativity in your life and try to learn something from it. On the other side of it now, I am back in college and I have had depression and I am still here.
When I opened the acceptance email from my University, I sat on a chair outside where I read it and instantly I began to weep. I cried because after 4 years of fighting a depression I had finally corrected at least some of the damage it had caused. It was in those moments as I wept, that I became thankful for the experiences that had shaped me and shaped this moment. I was thankful for the times I felt impossibly tired because it made me stronger. I was thankful for the times I felt unable to deal with life, because it made me more resilient, and I was thankful for the time that my life almost ended, because it has allowed me to turn a grim story of depression, into a narrative of strength, insight, and triumph over adversity.
I realise I am in a privileged position and I do not fear another episode of depression but nor do I welcome it. It has become a cornerstone of my understanding that I will learn something from it. And although it will be tough, I will come out the other side of it. It would be impossible for us to go through life experiencing torment and lamenting depressive episodes if it had no meaning for us. With meaning we can endure great pain if we can just see that it has a purpose. As students of adversity we need to retell the trauma of depression, fold it into a story of insight, a tale of great endurance and an anthology of how you have come to triumph over your own personal adversity.
You might know her best as Harry Potter's Hermione Granger but Emma Watson has been casting a very different type of spell this week.
United Nations Women, an organisation dedicated to the empowerment of women and young girls, recently hosted a special event about gender inequality. Watson, who is a Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, gave a rather inspiring speech about feminism on the day.
There's been a lot of talk about the subject both on and offline over the past few months and the actress wanted to set the record straight.
"The more I've spoken about feminism, the more I've come to realise that fighting for womens' rights has become synonymous with man-hating", she said. "If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop".
Watson went on to say that gender inequality wasn't just about women and invited men from around the world to join the cause too, by taking part in UN Women's new HeForShe campaign. It aims to encourage men to help women fight for equal rights.
Her words seemed to strike a chord with everyone who heard them and it wasn't long before the #HeForShe tweets came pouring in on Twitter. Some rather familiar names and faces even began pledging their support.
One Direction's Harry Styles, Thor star Tom Hiddleston and Watson's former Harry Potter co-star Matthew Lewis (that's Neville Longbottom to you and I) have all been spotted posing with #HeForShe banners.
They're in good company because Russel Crowe, Simon Pegg, Douglas Booth, Logan Lerman and Chris Colfer have all been at it too, spreading the #HeForShe message to their followers and fans.
We think Hermione Granger would wholeheartedly approve.
Eating out and going for lunch or dinner with friends is a great way to catch up and socialise. With family gatherings and birthdays, it’s pretty hard to avoid eating out and it can be tough to deal with if you’re trying to eat healthily. And that’s why we’re here with some suggestions on how to make the best choices when you go for that cheeky Chinese or takeaway!
Some content thanks to Safefood.eu.
This is it. I'm leaving my security blanket of my native land and going to the unknown. By this I mean moving from Sligo to Dublin - a forever away... or two and a half hours approximately, whichever way you want to view it. Hyberbole from a teenager? Surely not.
Sligo, the place I've lived for all of my 19 years, the place I know so well; too well, I can't say the thought of moving away hasn't enthralled me for a few moons now... But now that it is indeed a reality, a mere week from this moment I will be flung into the concrete jungle. I'm starting to feel unsure. It is most definitely the child in me coming out, sure it's so easy to plan and say I'm grown up, I'm mature I can't wait to live on my own etc. (Feel free to interchange your own musings) when you're living in luxury being waited on hand and foot by Mum and Dad. But when you have to be assertive and act your age, there is always trembling. Your bottom lip starting to shake when trying to grasp the enormity of it all. AGH!
I'm moving to the “Big Bad City” from a small seaside town where everything is comfortable - important note: view of Dublin subject to change depending on mood. The thing is, I am so excited to move. I am about to start a course that excites every nerve in my body that is the groundwork for a dream career. For any person in and around my age, to be let loose in a city getting up to mischief and having a laugh for the next three or four years and coming out with a degree of some sort – sounds alright, doesn't it?
I am the epitome of the optimist, I am wide-eyed and curious and get excited at any murmur of adventure. I will jump into situations feet first, no air of despair or doubt. So, imagine how alien it is for me to have found myself stalling at the thoughts of moving. I have felt every emotion under the sun, and found myself overwhelmed and anxious out of the blue. For the first time ever, I've looked at a situation and grasped mainly negative outcomes. Things like, I'm moving up by myself, what if I feel lonely? What if something happens?
What if I don't settle in? What if I find it hard to make friends? Among other countless “what if's”. I know I'm not alone in going through this plethora of mixed emotions and feeling as though your life is all over the place instead of coming together. I also know that adults, grown-ups, those people that have their lives together seemingly, also go through this, whether it's through a promotion, relocation, whatever.
All I can say however is that these feelings will pass and all these possible hypotheses that your brain conjures up are nothing but noise. Noise that can be tuned out. I'm not saying ignore your feelings and act as though you are fine. Freak out all you want! Talk to anyone and everyone about it. I've discussed this with my friends who are all in similar situations and feel all the emotions, and recognise them.
But life is what you make it. If you focus only on negative outcomes that is what you will result in. College life is the best part of anyone's life, and everyone is in the same situation - so relax. Thinking back now to what I was scared of seems absolutely absurd.
Last week I passed a group of secondary students on their way home from school, and it hit me for the first time that I'll never be back in a uniform for the rest of my life. Imagine that! No itchy jumpers, ugly skirts or shapeless tops. I felt ancient. I actually felt as though I had matured so much, and I had experienced so much in the time since I had finished school, it was almost bittersweet. However, I did graduate in 2013! The goals and possible fears I would have now, in contrast to that of a secondary school pupil are oceans apart.
Now they might consist of gaining work experience relevant to my chosen course, networking and such whereas, fears might be the thoughts of having to set up standing orders in banks and general “adulty” issues. Compare that to a teenager's goals and/or fears and they might consist of the possibility of them obtaining or failing to obtain “the shift” at a disco. It's hilarious isn't it?
So here we are, college freshers, in limbo of sorts. Mature compared to a teenager, yet idiotic compared to an adult. I mean legally we're adults, there's nothing we're too young to do, except drive on a company car or a vintage car, but you know, we can overlook that. They're not too high on the list of priorities just yet. I think we are at the stage of being able to get away with doing silly things all in the name of fun, only just. I think it's ok to retain the sense of mischief as long as you can back it up by knowing how to do grown-up things like use a washing machine. Or change a light bulb – so impressive.
So here it goes, moving out of my family home and into a rented property with strangers. When I think of all the fun I had with friends as a teenager, and that was with curfews and strict parents – this college craic should be a doddle. Farewell adolescence, you were fun while you lasted and hello college life and eventual adulthood. I can't wait.
The Union of Students Ireland are holding a rally on October 8th, in Dublin City Centre. Assembling at 11.30am at the Garden of Remembrance, the rally will take place a week before Budget 2015 in an effort to highlight the needs of higher education students and the USI’s vision of free and accessible education.
USI are also encouraging people to share what education means to them with the #EducationIs on social media. With the cost of living for students increasing all the time and the struggle for student accommodation, students need to make to have their voices heard.
USI have a really handy toolkit to get involved in the campaign and you can download it here.
You can join the conversation by downloading your own poster here.
I’m one of the few people my age that I know of who just hasn’t been able to make a relationship work for any longer than a couple of months. There are many reasons for this. For some, the blame firmly lies with me, others have seen me royally screwed over but I had always been able to get back on the saddle and chalk it down to experience.
I had gotten myself into a space where I was riding the crest of a wave a little bit. My career was progressing well and I had really acclimatised to living the City life, being a man about town and generally always having people to socialize with. Little did I know that a monumental fall from grace was just around the corner.
My last job saw me work very closely with the person I ended up falling for. It was most definitely something that I had repressed repeatedly over the course of the previous months, usually subconsciously and in hindsight it was all to do with protecting what had become a very close friendship, in what was a fairly high-stress environment. I had everything sussed in my head. It made perfect sense to me that we would end up together and nothing was going to convince me otherwise.
We’ve all seen endless films on how these things are supposed to go. Your stereotypical romantic comedy sees the heartbroken one recover as six months passes in the space of 10 minutes. Life, on the other hand, doesn’t allow you to choose the moment that you realize everything that had built up over previous months. It doesn’t allow you to choose the person either. As a matter of fact, there’s very little that you can control. Fundamentally, I had to learn the hard way that there is no way under the sun of controlling how the person you adore will react.
To have the person that you have emotionally invested so much in treat your feelings with disdain is the bitterest pill to swallow. Not to say that I blame her for not feeling the same way, as a matter of fact, I thought a lot about that old quote from Wuthering Heights with Catherine on her deathbed telling Heathcliff –
Not to say either that my broken heart had a profound effect on her. I think she misses the friendship to an extent but the point I’m trying to make is that my feelings are my own, just as her feelings are her own and my broken heart is much more to do with me than it is to do with her. I just wish she hadn’t done so by text message.
Unrequited love is without a shadow of a doubt, the worst thing that I have ever been through. I vividly remember the day I came back home and essentially had to be ‘mammied’ for a week. I didn’t want to eat, I took sleeping tablets, I thought about how I would throw away all of my career progression just to be with her and I have never cried so much in my life. Then when I thought I was out of the woods, full-on emotional attacks would hit me.
All of this was unprecedented for me. So too has been the recovery process. I removed myself from all social media for a solid month so as to stop tormenting myself. I was fortunate enough to be able to surround myself with close friends and my mother, the only person who seemed to really understand what I was going through, may very well have saved my life as I struggled to see the point in anything at all.
Four months on and I’m back to normal again. There’s a tattered friendship which may never be fixed again but as a basic principle, I’ve got to do what’s best for number one for a while. This one I can really chalk down to experience. Next time I won’t be so naive. The above paragraph is only a snapshot of what my life has been like since May. Only I will really ever know the gory details and if you ever go through a similar experience then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Everyone’s pain is theirs and theirs alone but thankfully irrational thoughts of throwing away everything I’ve worked for have perished and I’m even starting to get my mojo back a little bit. If you’re there right now then I feel for you with all of my heart but just try to reach out to your support network, appreciate the time you have alone with your thoughts and at least try to rest safe in the knowledge that we get better. Take it from me, it’s not just a cliché.
We’re Ireland. A nation of talkers, yappers and chatters. You can’t keep us quiet sometimes. Except on certain subjects. We’re picky. Sure, we want to talk all about Garth Brooks, and Kimye’s arrival, but we don’t want to talk about mental health. It’s a taboo subject. One we don’t talk about, or shy away from.
It’s something, that for me, it’s such an issue of the time, and if truth be told, you can’t talk about it enough. Mental health, the health of the mind. How you feel about yourself. We live in a time where everything appears rosy, and life is just full of selfies and Instagram shots of icecream, of Facebook posts about how everyone is ‘loving life’. This isn’t the case for all of us. Some of us, aren’t ‘lovin life’ and I guarantee you, it’s more than care to admit it.
Mental health, to me, is about being happy. You need to love yourself before you can let anyone else in. It took me a long time to learn that, and a long time to properly love myself. The older I got, the easier I found it. I didn’t just think I was ok, I accepted myself for who I was and realised I was someone worth something.
It’s ok not to feel ok. It really is. It’s ok to feel down, to feel shit, feel crappy, worthless and just generally down. Sometimes there’s reasons, sometimes there’s not. Maybe it’s that you got broken up with or had to break up with someone, heartbreak. Perhaps there’s family issues, or friendship issues, fights and arguments, no matter how small can have a big effect on the mind. Is it work?
The environment you’re in and the people around you. Or College, the course isn’t what you hoped or wanted, you’re doing as well as you’d like. The problems surrounding mental health and those who suffer from the illnesses associated with it can be triggered by anything, everything and often nothing. No matter how much of a front someone puts up on the outside, none of us know what goes on in someone else’s head. The mind is a delicate, fragile tool. We as humans, and in particular young people, have expertly learned to mask and disguise what we are feeling inside, so often, for many of us, our mental health is neglected. If you cut your leg, you wouldn’t let it bleed or fester. The same attitude needs to be applied for mental health. If you think, in any way shape or form that something isn’t quite right, not adding up, please go and speak to someone. We put bandages on cuts, cream on burns, put a plaster on your mental health.
We need to be aware of our mental health. Learn how to manage our thoughts, and what goes on in our mind. I wish I’d known more of this when I was younger. This idea of a ‘happy place’ is one that everyone should have. When things get too much, go to that place. Whatever makes you feel happy again, or at least changes what’s going on in your head at the time. For me, it’s watching Youtube videos of my favourite bands, something so simple. Sometimes, we don’t have the option, thoughts strike at any time. They can suddenly overcome us. We might not have internet at our fingertips, or our escape route there at the time. The key thing is to remember, they’re just thoughts. Nothing more.
Mental health is about doing the best for your mental health. Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, not the ones who moan and bring you down. Sometimes you don’t realise it, but many so-called friends can be negative, and this has a knock-on affect on your mental health, not to mention their own. Exercise is another great way to keep the brain active and generally clear the head. Sounds clichéd but it does work. You don’t have to run, a gentle stroll does the trick aswell. Get some air into your lungs and just relax. It’s so important to do this during Winter, because it’s a pretty grim season and despite the festivities of Christmas, the weather can play a big impact on mood swings.
Another tip, that I’ve started doing myself, is avoiding TV. There’s some amount of junk on our screens and it wasn’t until lately that I realised the impact it was having on me. Shows like Teen Mom or Made In Chelsea, full of depressing stories, and in general, not really making any particular point or not? My Mum used to ask me why I was filling my head with crap but at the time it was a way of relaxing, in hindsight, anything was better than watching girls bitch about each other.
We need to start valuing ourselves, and more than anything, realise, that you are enough. I can’t stress it enough, but you are. Ignore the flaws and imperfections, that only you can see. Nothing matters other than you being you, clichéd as hell but true. Skin color, gender, sexual orientation, whether he/she likes me, friendships, all these conflicting issues that for so many cause so much strife.
As I said before, we’re a nation of talkers. Mental health needs to be talked about more. Teenager Donal Walsh comes to mind when writing a piece like this. He came to light as he embarked on a quest to make us all more aware of the gift of life, and how precious it is. He aimed to highlight suicide amongst young people, and what he did for mental health is something that had never been done before. Someone young, talking about a taboo subject; suicide.
Why don’t we talk about mental health? Why do we say “we’re grand” when really, we’re not. Are we embarrassed? Ashamed? Scared? Worried? Nervous? Or all of the above. We’re great at talking about things that are happy, great and fun. It’s this talking about the negative stuff, the bad stuff, that ultimately leads to rich, wonderful good stuff. It paves the way for it.
God knows, being young is tough enough. Hitting puberty, and embarking on that journey into adulthood is one of the craziest and often most stressful periods of a young person’s life. It’s about handling it, juggling the balls, controlling what you can and learning to relax about what you can’t.
I think there’s superheroes inside all of us. We all have battles to fight and demons to conquer. Noone is alone in it. It’s time to talk about it and tackle things head on. As the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
Yoga has been around for thousands of years. It started off in India but has now become hugely popular thanks to its physical, mental and spiritual benefits.
Yoga uses stretching, movement, breathing methods, relaxation and meditation to exercise your body AND mind.
There are lots of different types of yoga: some exercise the body more and some concentrates on relaxation and meditation. Ask lots of questions about the type of yoga being taught before signing up for a class.
If you don't enjoy the first few classes then try a different type of yoga, it's up to you to choose what suits you best.
Yoga relaxes the body and mind while stretching and toning your muscles.
Yoga can also:
There are different types of yoga, some can be more active than others while some can be more meditative. Some types you might have heard of include:
Ashtanga – this type usually consists of six poses that move fluidly, flowing from one to the next with each inhale and exhale.
Bikram – this type of yoga takes place in a sauna-like room and usually involves 26 basic yoga positions.
Hatha –this is generally a basic and classic type of yoga that focuses on breathing and posture.
Iyengar – this type uses props to get you into the perfect positions.
Jivamutki – this type is focused on teaching you to know, accept and learn from your body.
Power – this type of yoga is quite active and was adapted in the 80s when aerobics was all the rage.
Restorative - as the name suggests, this is a more relaxing type of yoga and involves spending long amounts of time in the same 4/5 positions.
Sivananda – this is a spiritual-focused yoga that usually has 12 positions (starting with sun salutations and ending with the corpse pose/savasana).
What is self-confidence?
Self-confidence means feeling good about yourself, believing in your abilities and believing that other people value you. It’s doesn’t mean boasting about how good you are at something. YOU have to believe in your own value rather than relying on impressing others.
Do you need a confidence boost?
If you said yes to some of the above questions, then it’s time to work on improving your confidence.
Improve your confidence:
The pace of life nowadays can be overwhelming. Sometimes, we need to take a break from all the holla baloo and just chillax.