Features & Opinion Editor Leah Driscoll talks to Gary Hanrahan who wrote the inspiring ebook ‘Stories of Hope’, created in association with Aware.
Running for the chance to be an escort in the Rose of Tralee in 2011, Gary Hanrahan was about to be inspired by two people- Michelle Ryan and Siobheal Nic Eochaidh who were in the competition itself. After seeing the two women share their personal experiences of depression, Gary himself decided to work with them and another friend Aimee Keane and continue the sharing of these experiences. The final result was the ebook Stories of Hope, which was released in early January.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel. It might not be easy but they can overcome their depression”
Stories of Hope is a compilation of accounts of people’s own struggles with depression. Gary describes how they collected these stories: “We used Facebook and Twitter to look for the stories with them all been sent to our email account. Luckily through the help of online sites like Journal.ie, Joe.ie and Her.ie we got increased exposure and interest.”
Created with the support of the charity Aware, Stories of Hope clearly aims to have an inspiring influence “The aim of the ebook is to increase awareness of mental illness in Ireland, with the main aim showing those who do suffer from depression that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It might not be easy but they can overcome their depression.” Gary describes one story which he found particularly memorable, entitled ‘Nubbins’- an account by a mother whose life had been turned upside down after giving birth to a stillborn baby “The story tells how she has gotten through that difficult time with such a positive outlook on life now. Reading this story makes you realise how precious life is and you should make the most of every day.”
Mental health is an issue coming to the forefront of discussion recently, thanks to people like Conor Cusack sharing their own struggles, and Gary feels there is more to be done “I feel it’s something that needs to be discussed at secondary school level. Modern day Ireland is not an easy place for a teenager to grow up, we have seen this with an increase in cyber bullying, pressure how teenagers girls to look and dress a certain way, etc. Maybe if teenagers are educated on how this affects people it might go some way to changing people’s attitudes.”
In the few weeks Stories of Hope has been released, it has raised €600 for Aware through sales as well as having been well received by the public “We have received some lovely feedback from people who have related and learned from some of the stories in the ebook which is great to hear as this is what we wanted.” Gary and everyone else behind Stories of Hope are aiming for an increase in sales over coming weeks as word spreads. With that hope, Gary leaves us with a quote from the ‘Nubbins’
“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”
Stories of Hope is available to download from the Amazon ebook store for just €5.