Aaron Traynor: Talking about my problems helped me and it will help you too

As Mental Health Awareness week comes to a close Aaron Traynor has urged anyone feeling the struggles from everyday life to speak about their problems.

The Coleraine defender has had to deal with his own issues in recent years as he overcame a gambling addiction.

Speaking with people about his issues helped the 30-year-old win his battle and help get his life back together again, and he has made a passionate call for anyone facing similar problems to talk about it.

“I think it’s vitally important, no matter who you are, to talk about any issues you may have,” said Traynor.

Coleraine defender Aaron Tranor. PICTURE: David Cavan

“For me a problem shared is a problem halved, that’s something that’s stuck by me throughout the years.

“If anyone bottles things up it’s usually just a matter of time before it becomes too much to take, and then sometimes crazy things can happen.

“I don’t hold back on some of the things from my past.

“I was a bad gambler. If anything I’m proud to tell people that now if it can help in any way.

“It’s something that ate me alive for ten or 15 years and I couldn’t cope with or talk to people about. I kept it to myself and struggled massively.

“I lost a lot of money and lost control of my life.

“I went down the wrong path and tried to deal with it.

“Now I’ve matured a bit and wised up and realised the bigger picture and the help that’s out there.

“I’m only getting the benefits now as I’ve taken the stride to go and speak to the right people and get help.

“I’m now gambling free for the last two-and-a-half years and I’m like a new man.

“I’ve no real hassles in my life apart from the kids grabbing my ankles every now and then, but they are good problems to have.

“It’s a long way from the crazy stuff of being stuck in a bookmakers from nine to five. If I was ever struggling again I know what I would do, I would speak to family and friends and get the help I need.”

One of Traynor’s key people for support was Coleraine boss Oran Kearney, whose advice helped the Belfast man start to piece his life back together again.

“Oran was brilliant, I remember having a few phone calls with him at the time,” he said.

“You are always a bit wary about how people would take it, but he was brilliant and told me to take the time I needed to get things sorted, focus on myself and be the best Aaron Traynor I could be.

"The way he spoke to me lifted me up. He told me that we all go through things, and he said there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Looking back he was probably the only person I would speak to about as my mum, my partner, and my mates had heard it over and over.

“But he spoke to me one night and completely changed my perspective.

“That was basically the start for me to take the steps I needed to make to change things.”

Coleraine FC recently announced a new partnership with the Hummingbird Project, an award-winning social enterprise, whose goal is to enable people on the north coast and more widely throughout Northern Ireland to determine and support their own mental health and emotional needs.

The project was started just over five years ago by Leigh Carey, a mental health professional, now CEO, in response to her own devastating experience of personal trauma which resulted in mental ill health.

Under her leadership, The Hummingbird Project is run by a team of six mental health practitioners who use their own ‘lived experience’ of living with mental ill health and trauma to give clients the tools and support to improve their own mental health and resilience.

Jimmy McAleese, Service Development Lead at Hummingbird said: “Lived experience makes all the difference when it comes to supporting people with mental ill health.

"It’s about us being willing to share our own stories to support people and give them the skills and expertise to not only stay well but, when faced with life’s difficulties, to be able to engage earlier and either manage their own mental well-being or seek additional support and help.”

You can contact the Hummingbird Project here



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