Offaly man completes staggering mountain challenge for charity that helped him beat depression
Offaly man Keith Gallagher has completed a gruelling 50km hike through the Wicklow mountains in aid of a charity group that helped him overcome a bout of depression.
The challenge took 16 and a half hours after and covered 62km. It saw Keith complete a mammoth 86,000 steps and successfully climb the equivalent of 808 flights of stairs.
Keith raised €3,690 for Mojo, a charity group very close to his heart.
The sponsored walk called the Lugnaquilla Walk, covered 18 peaks in the Wicklow mountains. Mojo Offaly is a group aimed at men who are in distress and suffering from employment-related and mental health issues.
Keith told us of his link with the group in recent weeks: "I had been battling with depression for over 25 years and didn't realise I also suffered from anxiety," he 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."
His incredible physical feat raised close to €4,000.