How a Rose of Tralee escort ended up publishing a book about

first_imgIT BEGAN UNEXPECTEDLY with the Rose of Tralee.Back in 2011, Gary Hanrahan was trying to become the Dublin escort at pageant when he got the bones of an idea that was to become a book.While in Kerry, Hanrahan met two young women who had openly talked about their experiences with depression. Michelle Ryan had set up a blog and Facebook page to talk about what she had been through, while Dublin rose Siobhéal Nic Eocaidh was to go on Ryan Tubridy’s radio show on 2FM to talk about her own struggle.As Ireland struggled to deal with the fall-out from the economic crash, the three started to think about ways to get people to realise that so many other people across the country have struggled with depression.“I always thought there could be more discussion around mental health issues, [even though] the topic has really come to the fore in the last 12 months with people like Conor Cusack publicly speaking about his struggle with depression,” Hanrahan told They decided that it  came down to being honest about it was like, and letting people know that others had gone through the same thing. Hanrahan decided to ask people to share their own stories about depression, what they had gone through – and, crucially, how they came out the other side.Getting storiesAt first it was difficult to get people to share their stories.“Once they realised they didn’t have to share their names, it was easier,” says Hanrahan. “Initially it was harder getting stories from men, but in the end they came in. We used Facebook and Twitter to look for the stories”. Others were sent in directly to the email account the team set up.The majority of the stories are from people in their 20s and 30s, and Hanrahan says most have just one thing in common. “The one [common theme] is the lack of understanding as to what depression was and why they suffered from it,” he says .As momentum for the book began to build, with more than one thousand people liking the Stories of Hope Facebook page, the three began to look at the logistics of getting the book out there.They had already decided to sell it as an e-book that people could download quickly for a small cost. Once it became clear that there were enough stories to fill a book, support came on board in other ways. Dawn Meats said they would cover the 30 per cent commission Amazon takes for selling books, while the cover photograph for the book was designed free of charge by Gobnait Ní Neill.All the profits from the book will go to depression charity Aware.Stories of Hope, which was published last week after months of work, focuses on the positive. “The whole point of the e-book is to concentrate on the positives and show people they are not alone and they can get through this difficult time in their life,” says Hanrahan.With much of the focus on mental health issues on people who lost their jobs or were badly affected by the recession, Hanrahan says it’s something that still needs to be discussed more at secondary school level.“Modern-day Ireland is not an easy place for a teenager to grow up. Maybe if teenagers are shown how this affects people, it might go some way to changing people’s attitudes,” he says.There was one story in the book that stood out for him.“It’s entitled ‘Nubbins’ in the book. Reading this story makes you realise how precious life is and you should make the most of every day. This story talks about how this particular person gave birth to a stillborn baby and, as you can imagine, her life was turned upside down”.“The story tells how she has gotten through that difficult time with a positive outlook on life now. [In the piece] she writes ‘My advice to all is simple: be kind to yourself, talk to those who love you and appreciate all that’s great in your life’”.The e-book can be bought on Amazon for €5. If any of the issues in this article affect you, it may help to talk to someone. Here are some helplines: Samaritans 1850 60 90 90 or email [email protected] Aware 1890 303 302 Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email [email protected] 1800 66 66 66Read: RTE presenter John Murray talks frankly about his depression > Read: Samaritans received more than 10,000 calls over Christmas >center_img Console 1800 201 890 Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634last_img

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