Niall has travelled a remarkable journey since hitting what he describes as 'rock bottom'.
The Kilkenny native is speaking to Beat with his friend John Kidd following the launch of their website Lostsouls.ie, a platform for those searching for a loved one and a lifeline for those seeking help for mental health, and domestic violence.
Niall is frank about his past, declaring that his life hadn't 'been a respectful one' until he turned everything around. "I had done things that wouldn’t have been seen as respectful", he said. "I had lived a life of drink and drugs I didn’t realise that the life I was living was so negative until I hit rock bottom - it just spiralled out of control."
LostSouls.ie formed an important part of Niall's healing process. A spark that came to him on his lowest ebb, Niall's motive was a simple but powerful one - to create a website that saves people who can't save themselves.
"Just imagine the disparity of being homeless. We’re so blessed to have food, friends and a roof over our heads. We all take this for granted. We all have the capacity to help somebody, so instead of just talking, we should do something about it. Everyone means well, and that's amazing, but I needed to get out there and make a difference.”
Delving deeper, I ask Niall to cast his mind back to what his life was like at rock bottom. "Life can throw things at you do not expect. Your life can change in an instant. It's when you are absolutely alone," he responds. "You’re gutted with the decisions you’ve made in life. You're no longer the person you believe you are."
Depression doesn’t knock on the door to say he’s on the way. You could have it for a year before you realise it. Depression is how you feel, how you act, how you perceive the world and its people."
Niall admits that he lost a plethora of good friends during this time, which only served to increase his dependence on alcohol and drugs.
A chink of light during this dark period was the birth of his son Noah a little over two years ago, which Niall says is the only reason for him being here today.
Thankfully, he rose from his fall with a clear motive - to give something back to those most in need. His website features a database of missing people, along with a comprehensive resource of phone numbers those in need can call to help with issues such as problem gambling, drug addiction, domestic violence, mental health and more.
"The purpose of LostSouls.ie is to create awareness", Niall adds. "It’s for the homeless, for the family and friends of those who are missing, those suffering from mental health, those experiencing domestic violence. If people are affected by these issues, they can log on to the website and view a whole host of available services. You know, it could strike a chord with somebody who feels a certain way. Click on it, ring the number and get help.”
The endgame for LostSouls.ie is for more people to get involved along its way being recognised as a go-to platform for those searching for a loved one or seeking a way out of a dark place, but for now, Niall is ecstatic with the response the site has received to date.
"Everyone has been so positive", he gleaned. "I’m delighted to be a part of it." After coming out of that dark place I wanted to give something back instead of walking away as if that didn’t happen to me or that it’s in the past. It has made me who I am today."
Image: Niall & his son Noah
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