The Hidden MiseryJimmy Crehan, through his work with the Psychiatric Services in Ballinasloe and elsewhere, was very aware of the importance of involvement in activities outside the home after retirement. He often said that loneliness can be, and often is, the cause of ill health. At one of our usual Wednesday afternoon meetings, it was decided that a talk on depression, “The Hidden Misery”, should be organised and made open to the public. Jimmy and Chris O'Flynn got to work. Jimmy contacted and booked Dr Margaret O’Grady, the newly appointed Consultant Psychiatrist for the Western Health Board, to give a talk on Thursday, January 23rd, 2003. Chris booked the Regency Room in Hayden’s Hotel, and looked after the advertising.
On the morning of the 23rd January, Jimmy and Chris went to the Hotel to organise the seating. They put out four/five rows of chairs initially – better three or four full rows than a room full of empty seats! They need not have worried however; by 7.45 the good support from our own membership filled the few rows. Gradually, more and more people began to arrive. More chairs were needed. By 8 p.m, the room was full, and some had to stand by the walls. Dr O’Grady arrived.
After the initial introductions, her first words to us were that mental illness is a highly treatable condition. That positive note set the tone of the meeting. After she concluded her presentation, she invited questions from the floor and invited those who wished to speak to her personally to wait after the meeting. A queue formed. Dr O’Grady was so kind and approachable that she spoke to each individual in that queue.
That meeting was the first venture of the A.R.A. beyond the confines of our organisation, and it was a resounding success.