Grow Mental Health – November Newsletter


November 2020

Grow National Survey 2020

Calling all Grow Members!

Our 2020 survey has just been released and we need as many Growers as possible to have their opinion counted.
The short survey gives Grow Members an opportunity to tell us how they are progressing in their journey to positive mental health. It also asks for your views about Grow.

Grow Mental Health conducts this survey once a year and the feedback provides us with valuable information about the support needs of members. In short, Grow needs the views of its members to grow as an organization in the right direction!

All the information provided is treated in the strictest confidence. No names are given, so it is completely anonymous.

Thank you all in advance for taking the time to fill in this important survey and to tell us what you think.

Access survey here:

Grow featured on RTÉ radio

Our Growers in Donegal did a wonderful interview with RTÉ’s Drivetime on October 28th. Well done to AC Marian Maguire and our Seasoned Growers Josephine and Jean on a job very well done bringing the Grow message to the national stage!

Listen here:

(Grow’s bit is approximately 4 mins in)

Team Grow – Our Heroes!

Community Fundraisers 

October was a sensational month for Grow Mental Health, particularly because of the massive support received from our members and friends who took it upon themselves to fundraise and spread awareness for our organization. We are beyond impressed with the effort put in by our heroes around the country, who tested themselves physically to help the mental health of others. Here are some of the highlights:

The Sensational Rob Stephen 
Seasoned Grower

Rob completed the Virtual Dublin Marathon on Sunday, October 25 to raise funds for Grow Mental Health and the KBC Dublin Marathon Team named him the overall winner of the #RunYourTown Awards!

They said, ‘We were extremely impressed by your selflessness and generosity. Your endeavours with Sanctuary Running Club in Limerick were particularly impressive. We found it particularly heart-warming to see your use of running as vehicle of goodwill. You are clearly very passionate about Grow and the importance of positive mental health and we believe this a very worthy cause to #RunYourTown.”

Rob ran a loop in Shannon Town Park and set up a fundraising incentive called #ABridgeTooFar, asking people to guess how many times he crossed the small wooden bridge in the park to win a spot prize. Rob has always been a wonderful ambassador for Grow and we are forever grateful to him for his energy and enthusiasm in spreading the Grow message.

You can still donate to Rob through this link:


The Amazing Alan Kinsella
Beginner Grower
Alan ran the virtual marathon starting at 6am on October 25th in support of Grow Mental Health and male mental health. He ran solo and completely unsupported to highlight the physical and mental strength that he has developed over the past couple of years. He well surpassed his original target of €500 (raised almost €800 so far on his Just Giving page alone) and he bravely shared his story of mental health recovery online- which is no easy feat!

“2.5 years ago, this would have been an impossible task for me and maybe it might seem like an impossible task for you right now,” he said,
“Just because it seems impossible now, doesn’t mean it will be impossible forever!”


Alan’s Story

You are a valuable person and there are many people around you who care for you deeply. If you are feeling low, don’t be a statistic. I promise you that things can get better and that will start with you taking the first step by being brave enough to ask for help. The support is out there. People want to hear what you have to say and want to support you. I was where you are. I was in the depts. of poor mental health. I’m not saying life is perfect, but it is a whole lot better than what it was and that started with me being brave enough to accept that I needed help.
I want to take this opportunity to reach out to all the young men who are feeling down and say the following;
It did take a lot for me to put myself forward and say that I am not ok, and I need some help. That is the message I want to put out today. Young men account for the highest number of suicides globally. They’re the ones who are suffering most and the ones that are least likely to reach out for help due to social stigma, embarrassment and judgement over suffering from poor mental health. This is what results in young men continuing in the same cycles and behaviours that are causing their mental health issues. They feel it is easier to mask it rather than address it and unfortunately this is what leads to young people taking their own lives in a lot of cases.
I started attending mental help support groups with an organization called Grow Mental Health in May of this year. Their weekly online support meetings have helped me in so many ways and I am now working their recovery program based on mental maturity and development. Just this week I shared my story with my group and the support and understanding I received has given me the courage to share it publicly.
When the new year came (2019), I decided to turn over a new leaf. I started on a sobriety journey, began training for what would be my second marathon and decided I wouldn’t start another new job until it was a good fit for me. Things were going well but I soon realized that the issues I was using drugs to mask also had to be addresses as I was still feeling very down from time to time. The running and the lack of drinking was helping but I still had more work to do. After having some low days in early lockdown, I decided to reach out for some help.
I felt so alone and was constantly in my own head telling myself how much of a fuck up I was! I hated everything about myself and the person I had become. This behaviour continued up until Christmas of 2018. That Christmas was the worse period of my life. The fact of the matter is, I spent evenings at home on my own sniffing coke. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth!
Things really came to a head in summer 2018. I was put out of work on paid suspension due to a situation that I got caught up in. I was confused and frightened about the situation that I had found myself in. This resulted in increased use of cocaine and drinking which had devastating effects on my mental and physical health. I was crying out for help.
I always associated mental health issues with madness. In my eyes, if anyone had a mental health issue “They must be mad”. Normal people like me didn’t suffer from mental health issues! I first took cocaine at the age 18 while on a college trip in Liverpool. This led to a cycle of recreational drug use that lasted for about 7 years. I would go out on Friday night, return home on Saturday morning and stay in bed until Monday morning when I had to go to work.
I know that this is a risky move but if it helps someone then I am willing to take that risk.
I have decided to share my story and take some action in the hope that at least one person will see this and realize that it is ok to be vulnerable, It is ok to be in a bad place and that when you put health and wellbeing to the forefront, you can make changes that will result in you feeling better and having a better quality of life.
Today I speak out in the hope that I can help at least one person.

If you would like to donate to Alan you still can:…/evm-Alan-Kinsella-8849682610

Grow’s Virtual Mini Marathon

A massive thank you to everyone who supported Team Grow in our recent Mini Marathon fundraiser held from October 1-10th, which well surpassed our target of 10K- currently on 12.5K and still counting! Your support and generosity means we are in a position to open more online groups and facilitate the mental health recovery journey for even more people.

With demand for places at our weekly online meetings at an all-time high, we are so delighted to be able to offer more places to those making contact with us every day. We couldn’t have done this without your help!

The current energy levels within Grow Mental Health are so inspiring; from group members, staff and even from fundraising supporters, who have no previously connections to Grow, but have heard about our work online and want to help us!

We received over 600 individual donations to over 30 fundraisers for the Virtual Mini Marathon. A BIG thank you to all our individual fundraisers for the Mini Marathon listed below:

Julie O Leary, Jeanette O’Leary, Treasa Twomey, Geraldine Gallagher, Suzanne Colgan, Karen Tracey, Gillian Tracey, Caroline McNally, Caroline Crotty, Sara Dolphin, Eimear Keogan, Orlaith Crowe, Aoife Cadden, B Ní Conchra, Síle Tracey, Colette Flannery, Karen O’Sullivan, Caroline O’Neill, Rachel Behan, Mary Walsh, Tracey Halloran, Susan Crowley, Sinead Cunniffe, Offline fundraisers Ann Rowan, Mary Broderick, Susan Colbert, Josephine Keaveney, Marian Maguire, Dara Farrelly, Susan Crowley and Joan Difney.

If you would still like to donate here’s the link:

Regional Updates
Some good news from the Eastern Region:

  • O&R meetings are well attended. The recent one on the 23rd of October gathered 17 members from former face to face and new online groups including organizers, recorders and Leaders. Parts of the new program book and cover letter to it were discussed.
  • John Farren has organized very well attended 12th step coffee meeting on Zoom on Monday mornings to help members to connect when face to face meetings and social gathering are not allowed. Members from groups in the eastern Region have a chance to chat, joke, say poems and sing songs.
  • Additionally once a month a 12th step social meeting and helpful discussion is held on Friday evening. The upcoming one would cover self-care in winter month during the lockdown and the last one this year in December will aim to celebrate Christmas with carol singing and mince pies.
The West Region hosted a hugely successful O&R meeting on October 21st, led by Andy from the Westport group. A total of 14 people attended, representing 9 groups. The Leadership Topic on the night was The Role of the Organiser and it was agreed that a more modernised and appealing role description would improve numbers seeking to take on this role.
It was also highlighted that a training and reward structure for Growers who take on responsibilities should be in place- including ‘thank you’ cards/ tokens and appreciation. Overall, it was a very productive meeting, which included a Mindfulness piece from Theresa and some very interesting discussion.

The Grow Mental Health team extends a big welcome to Amie Hughes. Amie started with Grow as Area Coordinator in the Midwest Region at the end of September. We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Amie to Grow and wish her every success.
Also, a heartfelt goodbye to Mary Hickey, Administrator in the Midlands Region, working out of the Tullamore Office. Mary supported her colleagues and provided excellent service in the Midlands Region for over 18 years and will be sadly missed by us all in Grow. We wish her joy, good help and happiness in this next phase of her life and thank her for all she did for us for so many years.

Grow Mental Health’s AGM will will take place online on November 21st at 11am. While we are disappointed that we can not come together in person for this important date in our calendar due to the current pandemic, we are delighted that modern technology can bring us together in spirit. As we say in Grow, ‘A friend is as near as the nearest phone’- or laptop in this case!
Company members will receive notification of the up and coming event shortly and email addresses will need to be provided to log onto the Zoom platform. We are looking forward to marking another successful year together and anticipating the year of possibilities to come.

Morning Routine

10 Steps to Start the Day

By Barry

  1. An early morning reinvigorates the day and you get so much more done. If you get 7 hours of a proper rest period that should be enough.
  2. Wake up and thank God you are alive.
  3. Write down your first thought, regardless of how ridiculous it is
  4. Wash your face and appreciate you can move; you can feel the water you can see your face you can smell the toiletries.
  5. Have a shower, brush your teeth and accept yourself as you are.
  6. Dress the bed so you won’t go back into it and you’ll have this job done.
  7. Tidy (pre-breakfast) to spruce up the home
  8. Plan the day (7-10 minutes)- try plan to do something useful.
  9. Read a chapter of a book or article of significant interest (Buy a paper if you can).
  10. Brisk walk- there is nearly always a break in the weather at some part of the day, or some other form of work-out, even dancing is super exercise.

The difficulty of the present moment

through an anchor

By Joe

When you start to do anchor meditation, it is the difficulty in it that brings about the healing. You start to say this does not work, you start to say this is too difficult, you start to say this is causing me anxiety, you start to say this is no use. While your mind is analyzing in this way in the beginning you are learning to still or control the analyzing part of the mind not the part of the mind that is always pushing up a thought up into consciousness.

When you learn to stop analyzing your thoughts eventually subconscious thought that become conscious thought get less and less so we need to realize we are gone off analyzing. We need to be aware we have gone off labeling and judging. We have left the healing anxiety of the present moment. This anxiety is caused by the mind not wanting to focus on its anchor.

The mind goes off analyzing, it does not want to be stopped. This causes an anxiety but it is a healing anxiety. We keep returning to our point of focus, our anchor. We need discipline awareness, perseverance, focus, willpower and concentration to do this. By doing this we gently come back to the breath or our point of anchor, whatever it is, this is the nearest we can get to the controlling of the analyzing part of mind, not the part always producing thoughts, then the part that is always producing thoughts becomes less and less when you start this practice and skill you create anxiety. If it did not create anxiety, everyone would be doing it. This is difficult not easy. It takes practice, practice, practice. Eventually with the practice and skills of awareness and concentration this anxiety get less and less and disciplines, the anxiety subsides and you are left with a calm, relaxed mind.

As soon as the difficulty or anxiety starts in anchor meditation or focus the people or person stop doing it. They don’t want to stop analyzing their thoughts. Because of a difficulty or an anxiety or an uncomfortableness they don’t want to stop or ruminating because they have to leave their problem mind to create another problem, a difficulty or an anxiety, but this is a healing anxiety which eventually achieves slowdown of the mind and peace and calmness.

It takes a different act of will to stop repetitive thinking. It is the least resistance that keeps you in a repetitive thinking. You are driven in like a magnet sucked into your thoughts. Every thought pretend it matters so much this is the path of least resistance that keeps you in repetitive thinking. When you take deliberate act of will to stop analyzing or ruminating this causes anxiety and difficulty. This is where the mind is healed writing about this paper and not practicing it is the same as having no knowledge of it. We need to practice the skills to slowdown the mind and bring peace to our minds through an anxiety that heals us.

Jobs in Grow

Grow Mental Health are currently seeking to recruit :

National Administrator (Community Employment Scheme)

19.5 Hours per Week

Based out of our Swords Office the role is sponsored by Valley Projects and will be managed by them

See ‘Jobs Ireland’ for details:


HR Administrator (Community Employment Scheme)

19.5 Hours per Week

Based out of our Swords Office the role is sponsored by Valley Projects and will be managed by them

See ‘Jobs Ireland’ for details:

* Both application opportunities close on November 25th, 2020

Step 8

Extract from the Eastern Region’s Autumn Newsletter

By Maria


A challenging but rewarding part of Grow Mental Health program, Step 8 would seem to be asking the impossible. For all of us, but especially those of us living with mental illness, what goes on in our minds can dominate and change what goes on outside of our minds. Einstein said, “Reality is ninety-seven percent Perception, three percent reality”. When a troubled mind alters that perception, the heaven of yesterday can become the hell of today.

Through Grow Mental Health and our wonderful peer support group, we learn to challenge this distorted sense of ourselves and our surroundings. The “Belief” system that tells us how useless and ill equipped we are to life is no longer held as truth. Instead we focus on reason and this allows us to step, even temporarily, outside of our negative feelings and fearful imaginings.

This is not easy. Feelings are powerful, no more so than when we are feeling overwhelmed. The strength of emotion in any mental illness has a power behind it – one that cannot or should not be minimised. If this were not the case, we could slip outside of it as easily as we step out of our own clothes.

However, Step 8 reminds us that the strength of our emotions do not prove their credibility. Instead we begin to trust in the truth, and in our reasoning. The evidence can shout louder than the fears– You have one hundred percent proof of your ability to survive, and zero evidence that you won’t again. Feelings are not facts, they lie convincingly, but ultimately focusing on reason will lead you home.



Topic Meetings

North East/North Dublin Region

Members have continued to enjoy the weekly Wednesday Topic meetings held on Zoom. We have changed our meeting time to 3pm, giving us a mid-week boost during this time of living in the Level 5 restrictions.

The topic meetings, facilitated by Area Coordinator Louise Carroll, give members an opportunity to discuss the program and develop a better understanding of how to bring it into their day to day living. Grow is a program for living. Here are some of the topics discussed and insights given by members during the month of October:

1. Growing is finding and keeping your truest self – becoming more wisely, strongly and lovingly the same.
Being true to who we are, knowing we are enough, letting go of perfectionism and being happy to accept that we may never achieve perfection and that is okay. Having the courage to make mistakes, take sufficient risks and sufficient care, all of these wisdoms from the program encourage us to find and keep our truest self.2. Those who keep harping on their parents ‘faults and failings never grow up
However I came to be sick, whoever it is at fault is my responsibility to get well. Blaming others can keep us unwell, we can become stuck, not moving forward to maturity and wellness. Accepting necessary help, learning to get well and stop making excuses, this can help us to change and move towards a healthier lifestyle and a healthier outcome.

3. Those who matter don’t mind; and those who mind don’t matter.
The people who truly love us will accept us, the do not mind if we sometimes make a mistake, get it wrong or are having a bad day, these are the people who matter in our life. We can often give too much thought and energy into worrying about what people think, say or gossip about. In truth anyone who is talking in a negative way about us are people who do not matter in our lives, and are not true friends. Gossiping behind someone’s back says more about that person then it does about us. Focus our energy and time of those who matter and let go of those who don’t. This can improve our overall mental health and well-being.

When anyone pays you a compliment, say “thank you” and shut up
We can find it difficult to let in anything positive if we are struggling with our mental health, compliment can be hard to believe or let in, and so we push it away. Often deflecting the compliment by telling the person that they are wrong, you don’t look well, you’re not doing that well really and they must be mistaken it is not you who is making progress. Receiving a compliment is like receiving a gift, and we would not throw a gift back at someone and tell them we do not want or deserve it, yet we can do this with a compliment. Just say Thank you and allow yourself to let in the positive. It may feel strange at first, but with time it will become ordinary and you can begin to enjoy well deserved compliments.

I of the Lie

The Malefic Mission of the Narcissist

By Wingspan (Clane Group, a narcissistic abuse survivor)

I love to be hated. I hate to be loved.

My ill conceit stated in twin truths above.

When I was a small child something occurred

Which poisoned my psyche against this world.

So searing the anguish which I endured,

So awful the fierce shame which I suffered,

I locked it away for no one to find,

Concealing it deep in my nascent mind.

I was made feel worthless, so terribly small,

As if I could never matter at all.

But rather than facing this challenging truth

I twisted it until a false self took root,

One that could help provide centre stage

Whilst camouflaging my venomous rage.

So now when I’m hated I feel energised,

Grotesquely inflated when I’m most despised.

The looks of revulsion procured from my prey,

Their sense of repulsion at my perverse play

Imbues me with feelings of omnipotence,

As weak, lesser beings fear my virulence.

But oh, when I’m loved – well that just cannot be!

I feel so enraged – who on Earth could love me?

Among sombre shadows of my artful mind

Memories harrow, harsh thoughts are unkind,

But lacking the courage to face my demons

I project my rage onto my victims.

Those claiming to love me – those liars and fools,

They provoke my fury – they open up wounds.

For deep down inside I know I’m a fraud,

Still masking my true self, so adversely flawed

Since it was infected many years prior,

Becoming malignant; shame masked with ire.

Thus no one must know that my life is a lie

Fixated on gaining attention, supply,

Or that I choose chaos, division, strife:

Bent on destruction – this is my life.

Unwilling to love I so love to hate,

Reproving the world, my envy so great.

This is my story as cited above:

I love to be hated. I hate to be loved.

November – Declutter!

By Caroline Crotty

Just for a minute, try to imagine your dream home. Visualise the interior, as you walk through the house in your mind’s eye, imagine each room. Is there any dust? Anything stored under beds? Are the wardrobes and rooms well-organised? You might even have walk-in wardrobes? I guess there is zero clutter in an imaginary home.

I’d love if someone came into my house, ideally while I’m away, and did a huge clear-out.  I’d return to an almost empty home and only have what I need. I doubt that I’d miss anything once it’s gone but I can’t imagine anyone volunteering to wade through my bookshelves of often unread books (tsundoku*). Even if someone were willing, we cannot have visitors this month so I will have to tackle it myself!

We can hoard anything –food, medicines, clothes, books, electronics, music, emails, receipts, videos (even if we no longer have a video-cassette player). Some houses have a drawer full of whatchamacallits or a lifetime of ornaments or baby toys that belong to now adult children or a closet full of tired sheets or hard towels (so you can exfoliate as you dry!) …the list of things to hoard is endless.

When any house is full, it can be difficult to find important things. Advantages to clearing areas of your home include having fewer things to dust or tidy and having way more space. I’m not the only person with unnecessary items at home and I think everyone benefits from regular decluttering.

Why do we hold onto things that we haven’t used or worn for ages but are reluctant to part with? Decluttering can be difficult. We often feel that we must keep things in case we find a use for them in the future. Because clothes were expensive, we can feel attached to them. We give more value to our possessions than someone else would.

If you want to declutter ask someone to help. Others have no emotional attachment to your belongings, neither did they pay for them and will find it easier to clear them with you.

We might think our stuff is valuable but ask yourself whether you’ve used it in the past year and whether you would buy it if you didn’t own it! Start decluttering by spending a few minutes every day clearing one small area at a time e.g. medicine cabinet, kitchen cupboard, drawer, shelf, storage box etc. Give lovely clothes to women’s refuges, Direct Provision centres, homeless shelters, or charity shops. When it comes to nostalgic children’s books or old toys, give them to your adult child (and resist the urge to ask what they did with them). Take photographs of documents and store them online. Save on physical storage space and keep minimalist living in mind as you do your clear-out.

Once an area is clear, change your behaviour. Keep newly-tidied areas clutter-free. Put things back in their place after use. Be disciplined. This month start decluttering. Start with baby steps and keep walking!!

Separately, on a serious note, if you feel unable to cope or in need of support, free-text HELLO to 50808. 50808 is a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for an emotional crisis.

*tsundoku is acquiring reading materials and allowing them to pile up at home without reading them (I’m guilty of tsundoku)! 

See for more
Online Movie Club
Hosted by Alan Keaveney

All are welcome to join Growers in Galway for their weekend movie nights, hosted on Zoom.
Galway Growers have been attending cinemas as a group every weekend since 2015. It is very much a social outing, like a 12 step coffee meeting, but we have always broadened it to encourage Growers to bring a friend too.  Since our face to face meetings ended due to Covid restrictions we moved to an online platform.
Towards the end of the week we send out an email or text and ask for suggestions for something to watch. If we have a number of suggestions we might ask our regular attendees to vote on a movie to watch. There are very few free movies available so we usually rent a movie maybe for €2.99 to €4.99.
As we did when attending the physical cinema, the most important part of the movie night is the chat afterwards. We usually start our movie at 8pm Saturday night and work in a break after the movie ends and then set a time when online attendees can meet up on Skype and have a good discussion afterwards.
If you would like to join our movie club and be included in the emails and text announcements please text Alan Keaveney (Galway Area Coordinator) on 086 417 7726 or email at [email protected]

Grow’s 5-level Pandemic Plan

By the Return to Groups and Work Committee

The Government have offered a 5-level plan that indicates how we will be impacted by restrictions imposed in coming months. We have translated this into how it will impact Grow Mental Health. Please note that under all levels, social distancing and hand hygiene practices must be observed. All other Covid guidelines implemented by Grow must be followed at all times. This map we have provided may change, depending on future public health advice.

The strength you have all shown in recent months is incredible. Continue to stay connected in whatever way you can. Grow will be here in some form no matter what the next few months has in store. Stay safe, and we hope the roadmap is helpful.

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