Offaly man taking on hike for charity that helped him through depression battle
Offaly man Keith Gallagher is preparing to tackle a gruelling 50km hike through the Wicklow mountains in aid of a charity group that helped him overcome a bout of depression.
The Geashill native is taking on the sponsored walk called the Lugnaquilla Walk, covering 18 peaks in the Wicklow mountains, for Mojo Offaly, a group aimed at men who are in distress and suffering from employment-related and mental health issues.
Keith will join a group of others taking on the challenge in June of this year and it will take over 14 hours to complete. Every cent he raises locally will go towards Mojo Offaly.
"I had been battling with depression for over 25 years and didn't realise I also suffered from anxiety," Keith explained.
"I worked as a cabinet maker for 13 years and kept myself really busy so I wouldn't have time to think about the things that got me down."
"When the economy collapsed in 2012 myself and a lot of fellow workers got laid off. Things slowly started to get on top of me and I fell into a hole that I couldn't see a way out of. I tried to work to keep my head off things only to be hit with anxiety due to personal family issues," the Geashill men continued.
"This was to set me back a long way and drag up some very unresolved personal issues. I had kept these things to myself for I don't know how long. I was, I thought, great at hiding behind my smile and not show any weakness. "
"It took a person who had already completed the Mojo programme to see through me. When I started the 12-week programme I was there for just my anxiety. I was holding onto my depression as a punishment for wrongs I had done in the past and didn't want to talk about it or get help for it. Coming up to Christmas things got the better of me and I came very close to taking my own life," Keith said.
"I disclosed how I felt at the Mojo programme and one of the facilitators immediately linked me in with a counsellor and got in touch with my GP. My partner had to admit me to the hospital in Portlaoise so I would be safe over the holidays as no other resources would have been available."
"Since completing the Mojo programme I have continued to work to better my life. I see my counsellor once a week, attend a GROW support group once a week and I'm receiving cognitive behavioural therapy in the next few weeks."
"One thing I really want to do is to raise money for the Mojo Offaly programme so it can continue to run and support men in the Midlands who are struggling in the same way I was."
There will be sponsorship cards left in various businesses throughout the Bridge Centre, Tullamore, as well as various businesses throughout the town and the shop in Geashill.
Keith is raising funds locally as well as through a GoFundMe campaign which you can support here.