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Galway man’s insight into battle with depression

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A Galway man has opened up about his battle with depression in a heartfelt open letter.

Salthill man Seán Nee’s honest account of his anxiety and depression has been praised by celebrities who have had similar experience, including Conor Cusack and singer Niall Breslin (Bressie).

The former Jes student wrote the open letter, which is on his blog while he was working at a surfing camp on a remote island in Indonesia.

The 29-year-old photographer paints a picture of paradise – of sunny climes and the best waves on the planet.

But as his detailed account of anxiety and depression attest, people can struggle no matter how rosy their lives appear to others from the outside looking in.

“I wanted to give you an insight into the mind of someone with an illness of the mind and to explain how important it is to emotionally support each other,” he says.

“I also wanted to show people that no matter how blue the water or high the palm tree is on someone’s Facebook profile, it does not show how happy they are.”

Earlier in the open letter, he gives a vivid account of the turmoil in the mind of someone struggling with anxiety and depression.

“I am confused as to how I should feel right now. I feel restless and suffocated by a sensation like a strong elastic band wrapped tight around my ribcage constricting my lungs. My mind is racing between thoughts of self-hatred and self-harm. I feel unable to stop pulling the hairs out of my beard and my muscles ache. I look around me and see other people content with the moment, where as I am in a constant battle with it.

“My heart is hurting which is making my anxiety worse. I am trying to focus on writing one-letter-at-a-time! But my thoughts that everyone hates me or people might be talking about me are hard to push away; the anxiety grows. I can’t get comfortable, the fear is unbearable,” he writes.

He points out that just two days previous he had “the best surf of my life”.

“Nothing particularly negative has happened between then and now, and yet I feel the complete opposite. My self-confidence is a diminishing drizzle and I feel paranoid. I believe no-one cares whether I exist or not. I am nothing. I am in a position I don’t deserve so I keep my head down and break all eye contact with the others. The only thing I can really focus on is to end this feeling.”

As the letter continues, Seán touches on the subject of suicide. “Burying our heads in the sand will not help anyone so we need to face this issue head-on and see what we can do,” he says.

Another interesting aspect to his account is just how ‘normal’ he appears to others.

“I don’t think you would guess I had any issues if you met me, even those who know me well were shocked when they found out. I laugh a lot, I’m pretty social, have a loving family and I’ve a good group of friends.”

He says he struggled with “extreme anxiety and crippling depression” throughout his school days and reached a low aged 27 when he was admitted to hospital.

He gives a brutally honest outline of his thoughts on people’s perceptions of the illness – the ‘depression deniers’ – and on how it is treated.

But he ends on an uplifting note.

“For any young people reading this, or anyone, who is suffering from depression or anxiety disorder, I hope I haven’t scared you. I have more good days than bad ones and I have felt love and joy many times. I know I will in future – so will you! You may go through this rough patch but you can get through it. You will know yourself better and will have a greater empathy for others. Keep your heads held high.”

The full letter can be viewed here

Connacht Tribune

One half of Hollywood’s golden couple sings Galway’s praises after trip

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Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello and his chihuahua Bubbles, with Fergus Lally of Galway’s Celtic Chauffeurs at the Cliffs of Moher.

He may be married to the highest paid actress in the world, but that did not stop Magic Mike star Joe Manganiello savouring the best that Galway had to offer – hailing the people, the cheese, chocolate and salmon during his trip west.

The American actor, who played stripper Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh’s box office hit Magic Mike, was not joined by Modern Family’s Sofía Vergara until a week later on his trip around Cork.

But he did ring his wife of six years in the US while exploring the countryside of south Galway and Clare with guide, Fergus Lally, who had picked him and his chihuahua Bubbles up from the Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Bushypark on the city’s edge.

“I had a great time with him. I brought him to the Cliffs of Moher and along the way we stopped off at the Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory, the cheese shop at the Aillwee Caves and he had a tasting at the Burren Smoke House in Lisdoonvarna,” reveals Fergus.

“He had an amazing time tasting all the foods. The back of the car was full – everybody did well out of him. He was blown away with the places I brought him. He loved the history of the Corcomroe Abbey and Dunguaire Castle in Kinvara. He was a great guy. I was delighted to drive him. The two of us just clicked.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie  

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Connacht Tribune

Covid-19 outbreak compounds UHG crisis

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UHG's Emergency Department.

As Government applied the brakes on the planned full reopening of society this Friday, the West’s largest public hospital remained in a state of crisis – dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, large numbers of patients and lengthy wait times in its Emergency Department and postponed elective procedures.

An outbreak of Covid-19 at University Hospital Galway (UHG) was having a significant impact on critical care services, Saolta University Healthcare Group has warned.

UHG confirmed it was dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards of the city hospital. A further two wards were being used exclusively to treat Covid positive cases.

This was impacting other patients – elective procedures were postponed at UHG this week due a lack of beds.

On Monday, 41 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in UHG compared with 19 the same day last week.

Portiuncula was treating eight Covid positive patients on Monday, twice as many as last week.

There were two Covid patients in ICU in Ballinasloe and six in ICU in UHG; there were four in ICU in total at both hospitals last week.

Saolta said that people presenting at the Emergency Department in UHG were experiencing long waiting times.

“The hospital has seen a significant increase in patients presenting to the hospital and many of these patients are very sick and need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment.

“As a result of the ongoing pressures and lack of bed capacity a number of elective procedures are being postponed. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed,” Saolta said.

Read the full story – and our latest on Covid-19 – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie  

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Connacht Tribune

Galway lecturer’s transatlantic story of Boston dynasty and Irish roots

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Larry Donnelly, with the Bostonian, on the grounds of NUI Galway.

Of all the transatlantic cultural differences that greeted Bostonian Larry Donnelly on arrival in Galway, the search for a clean towel in something called a hot press left him puzzled and perplexed most of all. He also came to quickly realise that Hoover had so conquered the vacuum cleaner market that the brand name had become a verb.

But the Boston-born son of an Irish father and Scottish mother – from a famed American political dynasty with roots firmly embedded in Galway and the west – found infinitely more that united his old and new home than divided them.

His voice is familiar to radio listeners from his frequent analysis of American politics; his thoughts are already well-known to readers of his weekly column in TheJournal.ie – and law students at NUIG have benefited from his expertise in that field on both sides of the Atlantic.

He spent a fair portion of lockdown writing the Bostonian, a biography in part – not just his own, but of his family and his uncle, US Congressman Brian Donnelly (the man forever synonymous with the Donnelly Visas) in particular.

Typical of him, he rarely puts himself centre-stage but what he succeeds in doing is putting his life, his work and his journey into context. He was a man with roots on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean long before he ever made the journey to live here.

The photo on the cover of the Bostonian sets out the stall for the book, uniting uncle and nephew in an iconic pic; US Congressman Brian Donnelly marching in the 1983 Dorchester Day Parade in Boston – and an eight-year-old Larry Donnelly in the baseball cap looking up in wonderment.

“I’d always intended it to be a book about more than me. I particularly wanted it to be the story of Brian’s political career because that deserves to be told – but I didn’t think he would allow that to happen, because he has always loathed the limelight,” he says.

Read the full story – and an exclusive excerpt from the Bostonian – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie  

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