'I'm not okay': Father receives 230,000 messages of support after candid mental health tweet

19 October 2020, 08:15

Edmund O'Leary tweeted that his was 'not okay'
Edmund O'Leary tweeted that his was 'not okay'. Picture: Twitter

By Maddie Goodfellow

A father from Surrey has received an outpouring of support on social media after he shared a candid tweet about his mental health - telling people "I am not okay".

Father of two Edmund O'Leary tweeted on Friday night: “I am not ok. Feeling rock bottom.

“Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you.”

Within minutes, the 51 year old from Surrey had received messages from around the world from people offering words of encouragement and someone to talk to.

Mr O'Leary told the Sunday Times that his mental health has deteriorated during lockdown after being turned down for job after job and feeling isolated living alone.

The father had also hoped to see his son Patrick graduate with a first-class degree and was also due to take his other son Conner to Dublin to begin his PhD but both were subsequently cancelled amid the coronavirus crisis.

“Most days are really rubbish, and yesterday was another day I was feeling really low,” he said.

“I thought: I’m going to be honest. I am shocked at the degree of the response. It has been phenomenal, It was just crazy.”

After sending his tweet at 11:27pm, messages started to flash up from as far afield as America, Canada and Australia.

By Sunday, he tweet had been seen more than 10 million times and liked by more than 230,000 people.

Strangers reached out to Mr O'Leary for a chat, invited him out for coffee and offered to help with his CV.

People also sent photos of drawings from their children, videos of pets and funny images and memes to cheer him up.

“If I were to respond to every single tweet, I’m not joking, I’d need to employ staff,” O’Leary said.

He explained in an interview that the reaction to his "mundane" message had left him speechless.

"I have had depression for more than a decade and struggle with anxiety and PTSD.

“But this year has been absolutely horrendous. My mental health has really taken a battering.

"I live on my own, I’m divorced, I don’t have much family support.”

Mr O'Leary also received support from several famous faces, with Former Tory MP Louise Mensch tweeting: “How are you doing this morning? DM if you need someone to talk to.”

Broadcaster Simon Read sent a video of waves crashing along the Devon coast.“I find it helps to try and imagine the smell, too,” he wrote.

Author and mental health campaigner Matt Haig replied: “Hi Edmund. Sending love.“Remember, the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view.

“You will not always feel like this. You will one day feel a lot better and look back and see the distance you made. X.”

And BBC journalist Fergal Keane sent him a recording of the poem ‘Time to be slow’ by John O’Donohue, in which he says: “If you remain generous, time will come good; and you will find your feet.”

Kind words were also sent from Dublin airport, who tweeted: "Hi Edmund, you are not alone. So many people are feeling exactly that way at the minute.

"Never forget that you are loved & there are people who care about you.

"We see you like 747s; here’s one just for you, along with a picture of dawn in Dublin. Sending you hugs from back home."

One Twitter user replied: "Hello! You’ll get through this! :)"

"Hi Edmund, glad you reached out and asked for some love & support today.

"Thinking of you from Florida!" tweeted another.

"Hey Edmund! You're a brave lad putting your feelings out there! Your courage has given a lot of people permission to talk about how they are feeling. 

"Despite feeling low, you have done a lot of good. I am very grateful! Bless you!" said a third.