independent

Sunday 21 October 2018

Dawn walk will ask of the community

Brendan Keane

St Anne's GAA club in Rathangan will play host to a community event on Saturday, August 5, organised by the support organisation, Ask.

The event, a 'Dawn Walk', will take place from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. and everyone in the community is being encouraged to support it.

Founded by Cllr Frank Staples Ask gives support to people affected by mental health issues.

Cllr Staples is someone who is very open about his own mental health and speaking to this newspaper about he highlighted a recent incident where he felt particularly low,

'I attended a five-a-side soccer tournament in the Aviva and because Mayglass was involved in it, and they're my local side, I decided to go up,' he said.

'I had been having a tough time for a few weeks and when it usually happens I don't go out but this time I did,' he added.

'I sat down on two occasions with two people I knew well who both asked me how I was and even though I wanted to talk I chose not to. When it happens, as it did then, I just wanted people to feel my pain, that's how I would describe it.'

Cllr Staples was diagnosed as bi-polar in 2001 but said: 'I have had it most of my adult life'.

'The way to describe it is like a washing machine in my head; I could be awake for three days,' he added.

When asked about indicators he said that if he's looking at TV and there is a sad moment and he feels emotional he knows 'it's coming'.

'Sometimes, though, it's like a gentle slope and you don't feel it coming,' he said.

His oldest child was 17 at the time he was diagnosed and while he admitted his family knew about it he initially never talked about it.

He said his time as mayor in Wexford was particularly challenging and he admits to being nervous about whether or not he would be able to fulfil the role.

'Trying to make a speech when you are not feeling right can be very difficult,' he said.

He said the origins of Ask was as a result of his own experiences over many years.

'It's about people who feel awful on the inside it but have a mask on,' he said, referring to the nature of the Ask initiative.

Cllr Staples said his son, Francis, is also affected by depression but that many people may not have known as he is an outgoing type person.

'It's so important to ask for help if you need it because help is out there,' he added.

'That's what Ask is all about; some young people don't know they have it and that is a big issue.'

He also said it's important that young people get rid of the stigma that still surrounds the issue of mental health and depression.

'If they ask for help and talk about it they can work towards getting rid of the stigma.'

The Dawn Walk is something Cllr Staples is looking forward to and he is encouraging as many people as possible to support it.

'It will be free-of-charge to enter and it's a real community event,' he said.

He encouraged people to talk about their problems and highlighted there are a number of organisations in the community that provide support for people who are having difficulties including Pieta House and the Samaritans.

'I am lucky because I have a very supportive wife and family but other people are not so lucky and we need them to know that Ask is there for them to contact if they need help.'

Wexford People

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