One morning I put the television on which would be very rare for me to do.  An item on Grow was being discussed which caught my attention. I followed through and found a group in  Ballyfermot which is where I am originally from and proud of it.

So, what happened to my mind? I was a person who embraced life, I was comfortable in my own company as I was with friends.  Seven years ago I was made redundant from my work.  It was a shock as there was no warning.  It floored me but I tried to gain employment and was successful to get a six-month contract with the Dept. of Social Welfare. After that nothing.  I knew my age was against me.  My self-worth hit the floor, what was I to do with myself? I could not sleep and lost my appetite hence loss of weight and no energy. I really felt my life was over.  I sought medical help and was put on medication to restore my appetite and sleep as we all know lack of sleep is not good. I felt I was a different person to the old Marie who embraced life and would always do a course in the Autumn months.

But, like us all, I had gone through a lot in my personal life.  A marriage breakdown, the loss of my lovely home due to my Ex’s irresponsibility was the worst.  My two lovely boys were heartbroken as was I.  I kept the youngest in the same school which was in a different area from where we lived.  Which he cycled the seven miles there and back each day.  My eldest had just started a two-year course in college.  

When I see programs on the television about the Famine years and the evictions believe me I knew what they felt.  To be turfed out of your home is horrendous, the shame, you walk around with your head low as if you have committed an awful crime.  But, I gained employment and my two boys have turned out well with good jobs.  They are happy and kind and caring people.  So I will give myself a pat on the back, but I wished they had easier years growing up because they had to become adults before their time.

I took the plunge and went to a Grow meeting in Ballyfermot as I knew I needed to learn that I was not the only one who was feeling the way I felt.  It was the best thing I did and my only regret was that I did not know about it sooner.  I was made so welcome and the reception was second to none. I have to mention Stan and Ethel especially, their years of wisdom with Grow are worthy of a degree in mental health.

With the help of my Grow family, I have gone on a bus to town which was a real achievement for me as the Grow Program book says “Never say I can’t if the thing in question is an ordinary and good thing”.  Do the ordinary thing you fear.  The meetings have helped me so much.  I am off all medication for nearly two years now. I am feeling so much better but could not have reached it without my wonderful friends in Grow.  

Another of my favorites is “Don’t cultivate weeds”.  I try not to give them energy.  I am still growing and I have setbacks and when I do I think of what my fellow growers would say and their encouragement spurns me on.

Grow has the ability to reach people and I am so glad I reached out.  Thank you Grow.

by Marie