Movember – Eoin

“I was born on a farm. We always grew our own vegetables in the garden and we would rear our own cows. My mother and my grandmother were excellent cooks, so I grew up around great food, and I loved to eat. I also played rugby where the mentality was the bigger the better and I was always kind of overweight. I only started to lose weight when I started college. I had to cook for myself for the first time and I began eating more responsibly, trying to eat more healthy food. I started to watch YouTube videos and study cookbooks. When I began to lose weight, I also began to feel better and I realised that I was getting more attention from women. When you are in college, you don’t have time to cook every day, so I started to prepare meals for the whole week – carefully planning out my portion sizes and nutritional values for each meal. I really enjoyed doing it. I also posted to my IG and, to my surprise, those posts got a lot more traction than any of my posts before. Then, one of my mates got in touch saying that he is trying to lose weight too but had no time to cook, so he asked if I would prepare meals for him too? He said: I will pay you a tenner for a meal! I was like: Wow that’s like 50 quid a week! I said sure I will! Then a few days later, a friend of his got in touch. So then it was 10 meals. A 100 quid a week doing something I love! I was 18 making pocket money for the whole week. Then, the 10 meals quickly became 20, then 30, then 50. All because of social media. At some point in my third year, I moved back to my parents, making 60-70 meals a day. I would wake up before everyone else and, between 4 am to 7 am, I would cook 20 meals, clean the kitchen, go to college, come home in the afternoon, cook 20 more and then 20 more in the evening. I did that three times a week and I loved it. I realised that I enjoyed this more than studying engineering in college but I still finished college. I ended up renting a kitchen. It was all green lights. Up until 2018 and I got offered this huge contract that I shouldn’t have taken.”

“I had no business with it. I was a far too confident 20-year-old. I talked the big game and I knew a fella. He put this contract in front of me. It was about helping a school lunch company to produce up to 33,000 lunches a day. I was like “Fake it until you make it!” I left there and went straight back to the kitchen to try to figure it out. I had no idea really what I was signing up for. I had to hire eight staff over one weekend and we were working day in and day out. I spent months frantically trying to figure out how to make it work. I was working 16 -17 hours a day, sometimes sleeping in the kitchen just to save time to start again in the morning. I began to have constant anxiety and panic attacks. Obviously, I shouldn’t have taken that contract. The whole thing was spinning out of control and I had no idea how to fix it. The whole kitchen ended up turning into this quiet dark environment. There was one day when it all just came at me and I had a massive panic attack. I spent the whole day crying. I still showed up to work and cooked, but I was really struggling. We eventually had no other choice but to step out of the contract. It took me months to recover from that mentally. I lost all my confidence and whatever opportunity came my way, I would question if I was worthy after this huge failure. It was a total burnout. There are obviously a lot of lessons to be learned from this and I know that my experience just scratched the surface of the things other people have to go through. But it was enough for me to take my mental health more seriously. I can also see how easily this whole thing could have turned into something lot darker. I was fortunate to have had a great support system around me. Lots of friends, family and amazing staff. I really needed them through my recovery. I was one of the lucky ones. That’s why I know how important Movember is and I’m dedicating this year’s one to a dear friend of mine, Patrick, who died by suicide.”

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