Sunflowers allow Rahan’s Ray to see the light in life!

In a week when the focus is very much on suicide awareness, a Rahan man has spoken of how his gigantic sunflowers have helped him to see the sun and the light in life again after a tough battle with his mental health.

In a candid interview with the Offaly Independent, Ray Larkin from Newtown in Rahan, admitted that he was “minutes away” from taking his own life last year, but thankfully he sought help and has now decided to speak out in the hopes that he can assist other people who find themselves in a dark place.

While Ray says he has been able to find joy in the most unexpected places and things, he has derived great satisfaction from growing an amazing array of sunflowers in his garden – albeit totally by accident!

He takes up the story: “I bought some seeds in Lidl and I just threw them around the garden and they call came up, so I was delighted and I went back in again and got another packet and sowed them, and this time they were sunflowers, but I didn’t even know there was such a flower as I had never seen them in my life, so I put them in the ground, put my foot on them and left it at that.”

Much to Ray Larkin’s surprise the sunflowers did indeed start growing, and not only that, but they kept on growing and growing! “I have nine huge ones at the moment and three more smaller ones, as I sowed them a bit later.”

Given his mental health battles, Ray says the sunflowers remind him of life. “Sometimes I go out and there might be a leaf or two hanging down, or the sunflower head might be hanging down a bit, so I prop it up again and off it goes for another day” he says “and that’s just like life, sometimes we are down and we need a lift to get us up and going again and if we get that lift then it gets us through another day.”

Ray has urged people to “live in the day, in the present and in the moment” and not to worry unnecessarily about the future. “I have a life now,” he says “and I find the joy in the ordinary everyday, like going for a long walk in the mornings with the family dog, a collie called Sally, or seeing the kids from the playschool down the road here stopping to look at the sunflowers in the garden.”

He is very grateful to his wife, Carmel, and his three sons, James, Raymond and Jack for their love and support and to the many people, both professionals and extended family, friends and neighbours for being there in his time of need.

“Growing sunflowers and being in awe of the light and sun that they represent might seem like a very small thing to many people, but when you have come through the battle of your life with your mental health, as I have, it is a very important milestone on my road to recovery” admits Ray Larkin.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article you can get help from the Samaritans24-hour Freefone Helpline at 116123 or Aware at Freefone 1800 80 48 48

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