Shannon O’Farrell-Molloy is 24 years old and lives with her family in Newbawn, a small area outside New Ross in Co Wexford. Living and thriving every day with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and a mild learning disability, Shannon is an active member of the Special Olympics and the Irish Wheelchair Association.
This is Shannon’s story.
I have always been a very positive person and looked at my disability as a positive thing more than a negative. I am a member of Special Olympics Sports Club in Wexford and the Irish wheelchair Association. I enjoy socialising, keeping fit and taking on new challenges.
When I was 14 years old, my medication for epilepsy changed. It caused me severe pain and anxiety. I thought people were trying to kill me and what was worse, I thought I was going to kill myself.
Every day, all day, questions were running through my head like, ‘Will I drink poison?’ ‘Will I die tonight?’ All these questions with just no answers.
I had to leave school early because of it. I didn’t go out. Everything was a struggle. My family and friends found it very difficult to cope. I seriously felt like I had lost myself and I think so did the people around me.
I went to talk to someone and it helped a little. I came off the medication but I did wonder if it was me because its wasn’t until it left the bloodstream that I began to go back to the old me – the happy, funny and sociable me.
Recently, I started a new medication and I began to worry a bit that the same thing would happen again, and because of the past, I worried about telling my mum. Eventually I did and I then realised that I no longer felt alone.
Mental health is real and the worst thing about this is that it’s invisible.
People think because of my disability that my time is not as important as their own, but my time is just as valuable as everyone else.
I’ve overcome barriers like going to college to get an education and gaining the confidence to speak to groups. I educate students on disability.
Have I ever used my experience to help others? Yes, I really enjoy educating people through my own lived experiences and my own challenges.