Mullingar’s Gerry Duffy is being praised for a speech he gave this week in which he says it’s OK for men to show their emotions. Brian Howard, CEO of Mental Health Ireland described as “inspirational” a speech given by Duffy at the launch of a new website promoting positive mental health. Aisling.ie was launched last week by Mullingar Mental Health Association and Soroptimists Mullingar.
Guest speaker and Deca Ironman, Gerry Duffy gave a speech which quietly broke all the taboos associated with men and their mental health.
He spoke movingly about the challenges he faced in his own life, but used language that isn’t traditionally heard from men. He described feeling sad and lonely, and consumed by negativity on the last day of his Deca Ironman challenge, and repeatedly used the phrase “I’m not ashamed to say” when talking about his feelings. Duffy, who is famous for his sporting achievements, described those achievements as goals and ambitions, not challenges.
Other people have real challenges in their lives, he said, referring to Australian Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms or legs and Dick Hoyt, who carries his disabled adult son on triathlons.
He also referred to the everyday challenges of life that we all face and his own personal challenge in overcoming a debilitating terror of public speaking.
Seven years ago, before his first public speaking event, he was so nervous he didn’t sleep for six weeks and ended up visiting his doctor when he got worrying stress pain in his arm.
His doctor advised that speaking to the meeting wasn’t worth the anxiety, but Duffy contacted a hypnotist who “very respectfully” rationalised the situation and reminded him that the world would be the same after the speech as before it.
There were only four people in the audience that day, but Duffy described getting over this fear as a small key opening a big door as he now earns his living from public speaking.
He also put paid to the manly notion that success is achieved all alone, and several times he referred to the seven person team who were with him for the 10 days he competed in the recent Deca Ironman challenge.
He recommended taking five minutes “think time” in the middle of a crisis of confidence to stop and think of the positive reasons to keep going.
This helped him on the last day of the Deca Ironman challenge when he was injured and wanted to give up.
Brian Howard said “It’s great to see successful sportsmen like Gerry talking about the way it is from a personal perspective. That’s inspiring for all age groups, but particularly for young males.
“There’s traditionally a reluctance in young males in particular to open up, to talk about their emotions and it’s an ongoing issue.”