The Medicine Ball Challenge

One in four adults experience mental illness, and many more of us know and care for people who do. Talking openly about we feel can help.

The challenge involves cuffing a 3kg Medicine Ball to my wrist for 7 days. It may not sound that heavy but being tied to the medicine ball continuously for 7 days is a significant burden. The ball becomes a physical, visual and tangible representation of the invisible burden of mental health so many of us can experience.

The challenge raises money for the following charities. Any support you can offer will be gratefully received and split evenly between the causes.

ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Combat Stress

My Updates

Day 7

Day 7
Sorry about the delay in this, but i had a manic day. 
It’s been a privledge to carry the medicine ball over the last week, engaging with so many different dynamics of people learning there stories..
I’m overwhelmed by the amount of people who have spoken with me and shared their individual stories with me.
However its not about me its about, helping those who are LOST, those who feel there is no point of return.
I plead to those out there who are reading this, or even people out there who have there suspicions that someone they know is struggling.

Please reach out to them, bring them round a meal, give them a gift (random act of kindness) offering to do something practical for them, showing them that they have support, show them they are loved. 

Andy who started the medicine ball challenge did a video a few weeks ago in relation to one of his colleagues passing suddenly and he quoted, in relation to this gentleman and his sudden passing that why make a “Permanent decision over a temporary emotion”

This is so true, make a change folks, speak openly about Mental health and your struggles, this will in turn help others who may open up and engage with you.

My phone is always on 24/7 for anyone who needs help support or even just a listening non judgemental ear.

So please reach out and spread the good news, We are all in this together and we are all collectively here to help each other out.

“Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you , doesn’t mean you can, should, or need do it alone”

I have attached my video of images of the last week, please reach and share.

My telephone number/WhatsApp is 07545972340

Thanks again


Day 6

Day 6


Today is Monday the start to a new week, I had the children all weekend so it was a delight as always to have them.

After the school run I was away to attend a family meeting in relation to someone close to us who Is having some struggles in school, thanks to the help of Barnardos and there amazing team of they are in a position to help this person in the educational setting and the home setting. 


Due to the nature of my job i spend a lot if time with bereaved families and have the opportunity to meet them at one of the hardest times of their lives. Due to the relation I build with these families we almost build up a friendship and connection of trust with each other. I had the privilege of chatting with a Gentleman today who shared his journey of attempted suicide many years back, again this conversation took place over the reasoning behind me carrying the Medicine ball. 

Its a honour to be able to have people open up so freely to me regarding their struggles with mental health, sometimes just sharing with someone how you feel right then can be a massive burden lifted of that persons chest.


On my travels throughout the day I came across many people who where intrigued by the ball the challenge it was to them in relation to their own Mental health and daily struggles they may be having or people around them.


The important thing to remember that all times someone is just a few steps away from you who is willing and more than able to give you a platform to talk, share your emotions or even just to ask for help or support.


The late Caroline Fleck wrote an Instagram post several months before her sudden passing, “In a world where you can be anything, BE KIND”


Again I want to thank everyone to date who has reached out to me, shared there personnel stories with me, and also for those who have kindly donated to these wonderful charities.





Day 5

Day 5 (Sunday) sorry its late
Today i went for a walk with my kids and partner to Murlough Bay, just enjoying the scenery around me. 
This may sound a little stupid but it was a really cold day and although i had coats on I didn’t have gloves on, the handcuff was hurting my wrist my hand was freezing and i can honestly say i really felt the physical pain of the cold and the grasp the cuff had on my wrist.

The physical pain for me was in a strange way extremely important because although carrying the ball symbolises the burden feeling it was also helpful for me to remember that where i had been and now i am free from that burden i carried for so long.

Today i had many conversations with people, i had many strange looks from people (who is the weirdo) some people probably just thought it was a ball i was carrying for my kids, however it was a fruitful day.

I want to take this opportunity to thank every last person who reached out to me from my last post, and for those who shared their stories and battles with me.
I am so thankful for the honestly, love and compassion shown.

However this isn’t about me this is about people and those who TODAY are struggling. When i was young and went to Sunday school we used to sing a song called. 
If you're black or if you're white 
If you're black or if you're white
Or if you're in between
God loves you

If you're short or if you're tall
Or if you're fat or lean
God loves you

He loves you when you're happy
He loves you when you're sad
He loves you when you're very good
And when you're very bad

No matter what you look like
No matter what you do
God loves you, oh hallelujah!

Now this song may not seem important however the 2 lines that are most important is the line No Matter What You Look Like , No Matter What You Do (God Loves You)

So despite your journey your burden your hurt your pain, your problems you have got into, the problems you face - there is always hope.

We live in a society that is judgemental, and the consequences of this is you either sink or float.

The question is why do you sink ? Usually because your burden is to much for your to carry alone, this is why charities like this and many others exist for you to reach out to. Whenever i was at my lowest i rang Samaritans 116123, i spent many a night always late on just sharing my problems with a person at the end of the phone that hadn’t a clue about me, just a calming reassuring voice, someone listen someone not judgemental.

I encourage anyone who isn’t feeling themselves or the weights of life is getting on top of them to reach out to any of these charities they are AMAZING.

Also please reach out to me in confidence.

I must apologies for the late post but Monday has been extremely busy and family life has also been keeping me busy.

Keep the head up and remember GOD LOVES YOU.

Day 4

Day 4

Today the weather wasn’t great so I decided to have a family day and reflect on the last 15 months.
The last 15 months of my life have had various ups and downs, i had let peoples negativity and hurtful opinions and lack of empathy really sink deep.
This all got to much on 17th October 2020 i had said my good byes and i was certain in my head that this was to be the end, i felt rational.
I had it all planned out i was at the location where i felt this was my end point, but by the Grace of God he was ready for me to leave this world yet, with out getting into any detail i ended by self checking my self into the Downshire Hospital for mental health, i felt that this was the best option for me as I didn’t want to burden my brother with the daily task of looking after his big brother. 
For the first few days in the hospital i was in lock down due to covid, this was the first time in my life that i was in somewhere where I couldn’t freely leave, this was quite overwhelming, however the nurses in staff where amazing talking time to talk , listen and reassure me. I met many people in the hospital who where very ill and this was possibly a turning point in my life as i knew i was able to battle this one with the help of my brother.
I kept telling myself i have 2 beautiful children that needed me and this was my main focus to get back on my feet and be able to be the father they deserve.
The hospital issued me with various forms of medication which help relieve my anxiety and stabilise my feelings, upon discharge i was assured i would have daily home support, this would be in the form of someone either calling me or calling out to see me (Community Psychiatric Nurse) CPN, however i  this did not to be, somehow i fell through the gaps and fell like the NHS failed me, this did not help my mental health.
However i was offered a few sessions of online Zoom talking therapy, this was capped to so many sessions due to budget constraints.

I am fortunate enough that i can afford to fund my own counselling sessions and still to this day i attend weekly.

Without these sessions and the help of my brother and my determination i believe that i would not be here today, i am not ashamed to share my feelings and talk freely about mental health and my struggles, and I really encourage others out there to do the same. 

My door is always open my phone is always on if someone needs a chat. 

I am involved in a charity in Kenya called ACTIONS NOT WORDS - actions speak volumes.

15 months on i still have my daily struggles like so many other people , but i am not ashamed to talk about Mental health and how it affects so many people.

The first picture below is the 17th October 2020 - the day life got on top of me, the other picure is one year on.

Day 3

Well today started of well, i try to take most Fridays off to take kids to school and do some work from home. I had electrician and his mate doing some work at my house today, interestingly enough i had a chat with them both about the challenge and the impact the Pandemic has had on peoples mental health. 

I also had a call from a gentleman i do some business with, this initially was very generic conversation which then turned into an opportunity for me to share my journey with him in relation to my mental health battles over the years. A comment he said to me really struck home, and this was in relation to your family your friends “there is no problem to big that can’t be resolved fixed, patched or worked around” Sometimes people feel that they have got themselves into a place in there life where they can’t go on, however from a survivor of Suicide i can firmly tell you that there is nothing that can’t be resolved fixed, my journey took a path of counselling and lots of drive from people around me particularly help from my brother. 
My therapy was and still is opening up to people and talking about my steps forward and also there steps forward.

BT had a advert many years ago “ITS GOOD TO TALK” how about this weekend you reach out to that distant friend neighbour old work colleague or even family member, check in with them ask them how they are, how they have been keeping and how there head is. 
Tonight I’m staying in Ardglass harbour, its a fishing village in Co Down, hopefully tomorrow i will have an opportunity to speak with some of the local fishing men, lots of these guys live on the boats on a full time basis.
Signing off for now

Day 2

Well today was a early start for me but i decided enroute to stop at a local tourist attraction to admire the view and get a picture. Enroute to work i stopped for a coffee, that was amusing because the lady in the coffee shop initially was scared as i had this large ball in my hand thinking i was going to attack her, then we got into a conversation about mental health, A random idea i had today is next time your in a coffee shop why not pay for another coffee and ask the barista to give it to the next customer for free, its a random act of kindness that could just make that persons day.
Throughout the day i had several meetings and appointments, i had a conversation with someone I hadn’t seen in a while and they opened up about current problems they are having and i was able to point them in the direction they can hopefully get the suitable support. 
I went for a walk around my local community and it was interesting to see people look at me, i chatted with a few people, but the most amusing one of all was a local shop keeper thought i was getting married and that my friends had placed this on my wrist, this again opened up a conversation about the burden that wee all carry daily. A problem shared is sometimes a problem halved.

The Pinnacle moment of the day was when i removed my hand cuff to drive, somehow my 6 year son locked his hand in the hand cuff and then panicked. I then couldn’t find the key so all together a bit of a drama. 
i have shared some photos on my facebook page of images throughout the day and some people i met on my travels.

A Great acronym “Think before you speak
Is It


(Picture is of my 6 year old with his arm locked in handcuff panicking)

Delayed day 1

Well today was my first day of the challenge i was unable to start yesterday due to work and family commitments. 
Well today was a unusual day as i was slightly nervous about the complications of carrying the medicine ball and what people might ask say etc. 
However throughout the day i came across many different people ranging from members of the public coming into my office, the hair dresser, key shop, customers in a hair dressers, everyone was very open to discuss the reasoning for the ball and i was able to share some of my story with them. A lady i bumped into today explained to her 8 year old son what the ball symbolised and she was intrigued to hear the story of what the ball means and how important it is to speak openly about mental health. Another chap i bumped into today actually came over to my office later i day to make a donation and express how the discussion i had with him in relation to mental health was interesting and that he will be telling his friends about it.

A few technicalities with carrying the ball all day was eating, working and using the WC, even typing this is a burden as the constant tug on my left wrist is a constant reminder of the ball and the burden that it is.
A challenge i have for everyone for tomorrow is just to speak to that person on the street greet them Good morning etc, as you don’t know that conversation you have with that person might be the only conversation that person has that day.

Medicine Ball Challenge

Hi, i just received the medicine ball from Andrew today, it was so lovely to chat with him and learn of his experiences throughout his week long challenge. 

I plan to start tomorrow from i get up carrying the ball throughout my day to day life, sleep etc. I know that i will come across many a person over the coming weeks and hopefully be able to share my experiences and hopefully help in relation to the burden of carrying the burden of mental health. 

I plan to do a daily blog on my interactions and conversations i have throughout the coming week. 
If by doing so only reaches out to one person who is struggling that in it self is a result.

As 40 year old male i have suffered from depression for many years, coming to a head back in Oct 2020. I have learnt that there is no Stigma with Mental health, i have learnt that it is good to talk about your problems, and also to share your problems which in most cases allows other to open up to you.

Thank you to my Sponsors


Victoria Dorman

You have always been so supportive of our group and we are here to support you too ❤


Grainne Kane

Thank you Andrew for helping us when our little girl Mary Bridget Kane passed away at Antrim Area Hospital. You’re a wonderful person highlighting this cause



Impressive Andrew and such an important thing to get people talking about! Good luck for the rest of the week.


Andrew Harney

Good Luck Lad


Peter Davis


Selwyn And Jennifer Earle

Great Cause


Jeanie Martin

All the best for a successful event


Dave + Courtney Bradshaw





Well done Andrew


Diane Forsythe



Good on you Andrew! More people suffering than we will ever know …



Your latest post was most difficult to read. Thankful for your brother's love, the help you received and are still receiving. Hope this journey also adds to your continued healing. God bless.


Paul Adamson

Fair play to you Andy, we’ll done. Must get a cup of coffee again some day soon



Thank you for sharing your story


Lydia Hill


Stephen Hanna


Elaine Agnew


Wood Leeann

Keep strong


Vicky Mcavoy

Well done Andrew, such a fantastic thing to do to help raise awareness. So many suffer in silence and unfortunately think there is nowhere to turn.


C. White

Well done Andrew! Such a wonderful thing to do - you’re inspiring and supporting so many. Good Luck - Cherie x


Sharon Forsythe

Good luck with your challenge.



Thanks for highlighting, and raising funds for, such an important issue. Good luck!


Alan Meehan

Good work


Some School Kid I Shared Story With

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