Michael Casey a 27-year-old author from Co. Clare who has written a compilation of short stories on mental health issues and how to handle them.
Writing from personal experience, Michael hopes to see his book used in secondary schools as he believes it would be an invaluable resource for students before they head out into the world.
‘Breaking Free’ explores possible starting points of a mental illness, how they progress, and gives the reader ways to approach them. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, addiction, schizophrenia, and more all feature in the book providing the reader a wide range of stories to relate to, draw comfort and inspiration, and learn from.
Each story is written in third person in a way that the reader can identify with and reiterates the messages that if you are struggling internally with mental illness, you are not crazy, you are not alone and you are entitled to help. Although none of the stories are based on true stories, all contain parts inspired by people living with mental illness.
Michael said: “I wrote this book because I have struggled with mental illness since I was a child and had to go through it alone because I had no resources to help me understand my mind. I believe that Breaking Free is the mental health resource for children, teenagers and young adults that I was lacking, and if I had access to something like this book, my struggle would have been greatly reduced. I am confident that it can have a positive impact on many people with mental health issues all around the world by showing people that mental illness is not something only the unfortunate select few will ever have to endure.”
“A long-term goal of mine is to get Breaking Free into secondary schools. I believe it can be an excellent wellness and wellbeing resource that could have a potentially massive positive impact on students before they leave school and get ready for the next step in their lives. Breaking Free is currently available on Amazon and it has recently gone on sale in my local book shop, Ennis Book Shop, which I hope will be the first of many shops selling my book,” he said.
Michael added: “Through out 2020, Covid-19 has (shocked) and overwhelmed the entire world, leaving people feeling depressed, lonely, scared and anxious among other things. Many people experienced great tragedy and loss as the unrelenting virus made its way around the world, creating chaos wherever it went. But despite the devastating physical impact Covid has had on the world, it has also had a severe metal impact that is not being addressed nearly enough. Suicide rates, domestic abuse rates, addiction rates have all soared as a consequence of Covid as well as a surge in cases of OCD, PTSD, anxiety, among others. When Covid finally is defeated, I fear that PTSD and OCD will be two of the darkest stains it will leave behind on the world, ensuring the risk that a significant portion of the world’s population will never truly be free of it.”
“I believe that now more than ever before we need to be aware of our mental health and support the mental health of the people around us. Too many people are feeling stressed, alone and depressed during these difficult times and feel like they can’t talk about it. I think it’s absolutely vital that people are aware that Covid is not just a physical health crisis, it’s a mental health crisis. And for such a major crisis, very little is being done treat it,” Michael added.
He continued: “As someone who has struggled with mental health issues for the majority of my life, I now wish to help others who are facing similar or other issues as I faced and make sure that no one has to go through it alone. I hope that Breaking Free can one day be in the hands on every child on the planet so they don’t have to suffer the same fate I did and grow up believing that they were weak, stupid and crazy.
I want them to know that having a mental illness is not shameful or a sign of weakness, it’s something everyone will experience in some form or other, whether it’s first hand experience or through a loved one, and that’s okay. I want them to see that they don’t have to be strong and happy all the time, and that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay, and that they shouldn’t beat themselves up when they aren’t.”