AT NINETEEN I was diagnosed with a mental illness called Bipolar Disorder.

I was in University in Galway at the time studying Arts. I have the benefit of hindsight now but at that time, I honestly didn’t know what I was going through.

All these feelings and emotions were new to me. It was a strange experience to go from being extroverted and sociable to becoming isolated and alone. I felt these dark clouds over my head were going to be here forever.

I knew I had to do something to get back to normal. I had to battle my way back every single day.

Over the last few months, I have put myself out there to tell this, my mental health story.

It has been a long road of setbacks and struggles to get to where I am today and I am so proud of all that I have achieved.

From being at rock bottom to be able to speak about it today makes me extremely proud.

Now I want to spread a positive message that no matter what struggles you go through, you can still live a very happy and productive life.

I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone in writing about my past struggles in the hope it inspired someone out there.

I have become braver in telling my story when a few years ago I had bottled it all up.

It is certainly not easy to speak about it, but as a 31-year-old male, my aim is to make the topic of mental health problems normalized and for others to have the courage to speak about their problems.

You don’t want it to manifest into anything more severe. Life is short and it is flying by so why let the days pass you living unhappily.

Since I have opened up on the topic of mental health, so many have resonated with my story.

We all struggle from time to time but what happens when you feel that life is not going the way you had planned.

You need to realise that you are never alone.

You also need to realise that there is so much help and support out there that can get you back to where you need to be.

There are so many people out there that you can confide in when going through a difficult period.

You are much stronger than you can imagine.

I am a big believer in anything you set your mind to you can achieve. The mind is a powerful tool that you can build up stronger every single day just like your physical fitness.

I truly believe that life is there to be lived the happiest you can be. I have battled my way back to living life on my terms.

I’m living proof that you can go on to achieve great things. If I can do it, you can too.

Cillian Keane is a personal trainer based at Hustle Fitness in Ennis. If you are looking to kickstart your fitness regime and get the results you strive for, contact Cillian on 0863305024 or email cillian.keane87@gmail.com.

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