Tracy is an advocate and volunteer. She attends RehabCare Blennerville and lives in RehabCare accommodation service in Tralee. Tracy has written this moving and inspirational life essay, detailing the challenges she has faced and how she has overcome them.
'My name is Tracy Cronin and I would like to tell you a bit about my life.
I grew up in Castlemaine, Co Kerry. It was a lovely place to live and a very nice place to go for walks. A lot happened when I was 16. I completed my Leaving Certificate which I passed. My grandmother passed away whom I was very close to. I developed epilepsy also that year. It was bad enough, but these days I don’t get it as bad. I haven’t had a tonic clonic seizure for 4 years. I do have dissociative seizures, but these are different to epileptic seizures.
I went back to school to repeat my Leaving Certificate as I felt I could have done better. I attended for a couple of months but found it difficult to continue as I was bullied by the people who I thought were my friends. I dropped out of school and became very depressed. I had no friends. I spent all my time in my room and began to overeat. I began to feel very low and worthless and I became suicidal.
When I was 18, I went to a gym in Castlemaine that opened up and I began to eat better. I lost a lot of weight and I also began voluntary work in Castlemaine Community Centre with the senior citizens. My mood started to improve. I loved the volunteering. One year the senior citizens hadn’t enough money for their Christmas party so I tried to think of some way to make money for them. I came up with the idea to write a book about the history of Castlemaine. I worked hard on it for a month and made over 100 copies and sold most of them, which made €600 for the senior citizens’ Christmas party. They were delighted with this.
When I was volunteering and at the gym I was happy but being at home I was not happy. I still felt depressed. I moved out of home when I was 21, which to this day I think was a good thing. I moved in to an apartment with a friend in Tralee. After a while, I realised she was not a real friend and was only using me for my money. Around a year later, I began attending Blennerville RehabCare Centre, Tralee. I told one of the staff about my life and the way my so-called friend was treating me. That staff member helped me to move out and got me a place to live in RehabCare Fortfield accommodation service in Tralee. This is where I have been living for the last 6 years.
Ever since I have been living in Fortfield and going to Blennerville Centre, things have really changed for me in a fantastic way, thanks to the staff in both places. They are very helpful and always there when needed. I’m a much happier person now compared to when I was at home in Castlemaine, thanks to the staff, and my Dad and Nan whom I am very close to. I’m a lot happier here especially when I can talk to the staff, they really helped me a lot throughout the past 6 years that I have lived here. My suicidal mood is gone and I feel confident in myself.
I have lost over 3 stone since February; it has been hard at times but if you never try you’ll never succeed. Recently I wrote an article with the help of one of the staff. It was about Covid-19. The article was published in the local newspaper, the Kerry’s Eye, and got a very positive reaction. I also did a video recently with the help of staff which will be going on the RehabCare website. I have never felt happier than I am these days. I do miss my family but I still get to see my Dad now and again thankfully, he is very good to me. As well as the staff in both Fortfield and Blennerville RehabCare centre.'