An unemployed father-of-two whose tweet about mental health during lockdown went viral – sparking nearly 100,000 comments from across the world – has urged others to ‘reach out if you feel alone’.
Edmund O’Leary, 51, from Epsom, Surrey, was met with a wave of support on social media after he took to Twitter and candidly admitted ‘I am not OK’ having endured months living alone during the pandemic.
The tweet has since been seen over 10 million times and has received over 300,000 likes.
Mr O’ Leary, who has been unemployed for 18 months after working as a mental health worker, has received messages of from people around the world, including top journalists, actresses and company bosses.
Today he spoke to ITV’s This Morning to explain how the viral tweet came about.
He said: ‘On Friday I was feeling very depressed and isolated and I have Twitter friend who writes similar things, I thought if it worked for him it could work for me.
‘The phenomenal response is a lot about timing, it was daytime in America and a lot of people were sick and tired of all the bad news on Twitter.
Edmund O’Leary, 51, from Epsom, Surrey, was met with a wave of support on social media after he took to Twitter and candidly admitted ‘I am not OK’ having endured months living alone during the pandemic
Mr O’ Leary, who has been unemployed for 18 months after working as a mental health worker, has received messages of from people around the world, including top journalists, actresses and company bosses
The father-of-two told social media users he had hit ‘rock bottom’ before asking others to ‘say hello’
‘I will keep in touch with some of these people, I would need to employ staff to reply to every tweet.’
Speaking about the impact it has had, Mr O’Leary, who has previously held jobs working in sales, travel and television engineering, said: ‘I’ve had many men reply to me and say they couldn’t do what I did.
‘They called me courageous and were applauding me. I would say to men try to reach out for help and don’t feel alone.
‘I think we are in for a pretty awful winter by all accounts, reach out for help, reach out to loved ones, and seek medical help if necessary.’
The outpouring of supportive comments came after Mr O’Leary originally took to Twitter to say: ‘I am not ok. Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you.’
Mr O’ Leary later explained that this ‘absolutely horrendous’ year had taken a toll on his mental health.
The father had hoped to see his son Patrick 22, 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.
He told The Sunday Times: ‘Most days are really rubbish, and yesterday was another day I was feeling really low. I thought: ”I’m going to be honest.”
Mr O’Leary said he had received messages of support from across the world, including California and Australia
Social media users took to Twitter to share their words of encouragement and offer their support
‘I am shocked at the degree of the response. It has been phenomenal … It was just crazy.’
He added: ‘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.’
Following his honest message, social media users rushed to the platform to share their words of encouragement.
One user wrote: ‘Hello Edmund! We don’t know each other, but I know that so so so many people are feeling heavy right now. The toll of this year is immense. Just remember that it’s a relay; we can all share the baton.
‘You’re not alone. Better days are coming. You deserve them.’
While another said: ‘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!’
Another person commented: ‘Hi Edmund, I have an idea of what it feels like to be at ”rock bottom”. Remember that you are loved, you matter and that these feelings are only temporary. You’ve done the right thing by reaching out.’
Some on Twitter said the candid message had resonated with them too as they offered their encouraging responses
And one user added: ‘Hi Edmund. I’m a fellow Brit confused by the state of the world right now. Feel free to message me anytime you feel the need to rant or just chat about stuff. It says you like aviation. Tell me, do you fly? Whats your favourite plane?’
Elsewhere others said Mr O’Leary’s candid admission had resonated with them too.
One person wrote: ‘Hi Edmund. I’ve been in the same place myself very recently too. Please know that you aren’t alone – there are many millions of us out here feeling the same way, ready to help and support you through this. You are strong. You can do this. We believe in you.’
While another added: ‘Hello Edmund, I was just there recently, as a matter of fact. From my experience, there is a way up and out of it- and all the time you need to make your progress. Please hand in there.’
The father-of-two later told ITV News: ‘Suffering with depression during normal times is one thing but to end up suffering with depression during a global pandemic where there is very little good news is devastating.’
He added: ‘I’ve had people tweet from California. I’ve had people tweet from Canada. I’ve had tweets from Australia. One little boy said to his mummy: ”I really feel for Edmund O’Leary and I want him to know he is loved”.
‘People are yearning for hope, love and a bit of good news and I think my little tweet has turned into I suppose a good news story.’