A YOUNG Blacklion man who delves into his own mental health issues over a 10-year period in his newly released book hopes that it will help those who read it have the courage to open up about their own issues in life.

21-year-old Conor Nolan’s book, ‘Normal’, brings the reader into the a conversation between Conor and ‘The Stranger’ at a house party as he recounts his decade-long story of mental struggles.

The book is a casual conversational journey through Conor’s struggles between the ages of 10 and 20, when he suffered from anorexia.

‘Normal’ gives the readers lessons in how they can overcome their own problems and help them to become comfortable in their own skin.

About two years ago, Conor was in a “deep depression” and, as he admits himself, in a very dark place, mentally, where he had not dealt with a lot of things from his past.

“I had always grown up to believe mental health was something we didn’t really talk about,” explains Conor.

“I was always led to believe that we don’t talk about these things, particularly young men.

“I turned to friends of mine and they were extremely supportive, and what I found was it was like a pattern - whenever I started to talk, somebody else would open up as well and it was like an icebreaker.”

Conor particularly remembers being in a pub with a friends and he started talking about his issues.

“It was like a domino effect, and I realised we all have our problems and we all have our struggles with mental health, and it is a very universal thing and it is okay to talk.”

“One night at Christmas about 18 months ago, I was standing in a nightclub in Galway with a friend of mine and we had a very heartfelt conversation.

“He told me about some things from his past which really resonated with me, and which were similar to what I had went through, and I realised that, particularly in young men, we don’t talk near enough. We bottle things up; we take them to the grave.

“I said to myself, ‘I would love to have that sort of chat with a million people’. Obviously, you can’t do that, but you can write about it, so I decided, ‘I’m going to write a book’,” he reveals.

As for the book’s approach and style, Conor says: “The way I wrote it was as a conversation. It is based on a house party I was at about 12 months ago, and it’s a very casual setting in the back garden, with everyone having a few drinks.

“I meet this person; I call him ‘The Stranger’. The reason I call him that is I always have found that help can be anonymous, from the conversations I have had with people.

“You never know who is going to be there to help you, and you never know who might end up helping. I don’t give the character a name or a face; he is completely anonymous, just someone who sits down and me and him start talking.

“I go through my own ups and downs of mental health from the ages of 10-20. I had anorexia quite young, and I talk about the conduits and what comes out of that.

“I go through sort of my own personal experiences, but to every experience I tie it to an idea or conclusion. I go through what I have learned, talk about people I have met, how they have impacted me, and how I have impacted them. It all takes place over an evening, a couple of hours just having a causal conversation.”

Recovering from anorexia was the biggest underlying theme in the book for Conor. Weighing just five stone when he was 13 years old, Conor now competes as a strongman and powerlifter, and he says it proves that “you can change, you are not stuck in one place, you can move forward and change if you really want to”.

Now Conor wants his book to help readers to accept the issues in their lives, and he hopes the book will give people the courage to open up.

“My main aim would be [to help] teenagers and young adults, in particular, [to tell them] to not bottle things up, to open up about your problems, and for the young men of our generation to not be afraid to speak out about what is on their mind.

“If I can put my problems out to everyone, then the next man can tell his brother or his parents or his friends. It is encouragement in that sense,” he hopes.

‘Normal’, by Conor Nolan, is available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook format.