Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

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DEPRESSION BLOG: A QUICK INSIGHT

I was diagnosed with depression in the summer of 2010 after a visit to my local Mental Health Clinic, but I suffered with it for far longer than that. Many options and tablets were tried since I first began to feel bad in 2009 but none had worked so I thought I should visit the ‘experts’.I had lost the life I once knew. I could talk all day about the past and all the dark days, days when I couldn’t face the world but the point of this blog is to look to the future and keep a note on my return to GAA and how I hope it will help to battle this dark demon. Just because I got diagnosed with depression doesn’t mean that it disappears overnight but I have to admit the medication prescribed to me did help. To an extent. I was getting back on track… and then Christmas came and upset everything. I haven’t worked since, I’m falling back into my ‘black hole’!! The one positivity though has been my return to training with Blackhall and though I find it tough to motivate myself to go, when I do, I forget all my troubles for that hour and a half of pre-season ”torture”. So I’ve deceided to keep a blog(when I remember to) on how I hope football and all that goes with it, will help me re-create myself and some day live life to the full, again. Yes, I hate this illness but I’m grateful that I have this opportunity and I hope to seize it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness
All original content copyright to me: Robert. Enjoy!!

FRIDAY, 27 JANUARY, 2012

Hi all, I had hoped that going back to football would help with my illness and to an extent it has. I went to the first meeting, did all the fitness tests and went to the first five training sessions and though it was a struggle to get up and go, I went and got through them first five tortoures nights and early 8am sunday mornings. But Tuesday night past I was back to my old ways and didnt feel up to going, so as usual I took the easy option and stayed at home, hiding in my bedroom. I even lied to my friends, telling them i’d meet them there as ” I had to go early to meet someone over my transfer ”!!!, when really I didn’t. You get used to lying in life when you are all the time hiding behind closed doors, when in reality it would be easier to tell the truth. I felt better the next day though after I had explained to my manager and some lads from the team, that I just couldn’t face it and that there could be more nights like Tuesday. Thankfully they were very understanding about it all and I can work with them throughout the year, during the highs and lows. So training did help for them first few days, it was good to be out meeting the lads, seeing some old faces and meeting some new, younger ones. Of course 99% of them are oblivious to what I am feeling inside, which in a way is good. It’s an escape. But I finally sucuumed to this illness on Tuesday night, staying at home and @4pm now on friday evening(with training scheduled to start in four hours), it looks like depression and the side affects that go with it are going to win through again and keep me hidden, behind closed doors, where I feel safe. As it is so far in this battle it’s a closely contested affair with depression clawing it’s way back into the game after football storming into a 5-0 lead!! I’ll keep you posted. On a brighter note it’s my sister’s birthday today so happy birthday sis. Love you.
      8:30pm: Well didnt go training. And you know that feeling the next day after drinking too much the night before?, the feeling of regret, a low feeling etc. Well that’s me now. I know I should have went and would have felt better after it. But that’s another one down. 5/7 attended now. Two in a row not attended. Sunday morning @ 8am? Definitely. Maybe… Bye for now

SATURDAY, 28 JANUARY, 2012
Well, a few things of some significance happened since I last wrote to you. As per ususal and something that has been happenning far too frequently of late, I had a bad nights sleep last night. Just finding it to hard to fall asleep most nights, then i’m waking a lot throughout the night and dreaming too much. Someone said you only dream when you are about to wake up and not when you are in a deep sleep, so  that really explains why I am tired all the time during the day… It’s a vicous circle and i’m finding it hard to get out of that circle at the moment. On a brighter note I got some things off my chest last night, when I opened up to Linda, and told her the truth about some lies I had been keeping during the week, not training, texting my boss Paddy etc, so that was helpful. Then in what was either a coincidence or some reward for last night’s honesty, I got a text from Paddy to work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday next week which made my day, so things are looking up a small bit. It’s amazing what can make a person with depression happy, isn’t it. After turning down the offer of some well needed fresh air and exercise in Donadea Forest with Linda and the dogs to instead watch Man United get beaten by Liverpool, I spent the evening in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, window shopping, while waiting for the girls to raid Pennys. I’m blabbing a bit so i’m sorry but in all it wasn’t a bad day, felt shit when I woke but Paddy’s text alone made it a good day. Work to look forward too. It’s good for me and though I shouldn’t be worrying what others think, I feel guilty when i’m off and worry that people will think I am a waster. A bit of FA Cup highlights now and looking at one my fav actors in Liam Neeson on the ‘Graham Norton Show’…. I love his famous line in the movie Taken. “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”. I love his voice too. If I had to pick someone to read my autobiography out, it would be him. Myself and Linda watched the film ‘The Whistle Blower tonight’. Effort. Worth a watch. 8am training tommorow, what if I don’t go, that will be three in a row and i’ll be nearly back to square one. The lads will say, ”oh it’s the same aul same aul Cox”. If I keep going like this I can change the title of my blog to Depression & My Black Dog….Leave out Blackhall Gaels altogether. That’s it for today, i’m off to bed. Please let me sleep, maybe one nice dream ha. Tommorow I think i’ll introduce you to My Black Dog, Kiwi.

SUNDAY, 29 JANUARY, 2012

Winston Churchill’s “Black Dog”- At the height of World War II, Great Britain’s most famous Prime Minister was not only battling Adolph Hitler, but bipolar disorder as well.One of Great Britain’s most famous and accomplished Prime Ministers, a man who rallied his country against the evils of Adolph Hitler, was prone to bouts of debilitating depression and was most likely bipolar (manic depressive).
That’s the truth about Winston Churchill, one of history’s greatest statesman, political thinkers, and diplomats. Many reasons have been given for what Churchill called his “black dog.” According to the book “Churchill” by Paul Johnson, as a child growing up, he was a disappointment to his father. He suffered numerous setbacks during a career in the military. And he lost his entire fortune during the worldwide Great Depression. In his book,” Churchill: A Study In Greatness”, author Geoffrey Best notes that Churchill was incredibly resilient and overcame depression many times during his life, just as another great statesman, Abraham Lincoln, had. He often used his favorite pastime, watercolor painting, as a form of meditation to fight off his black dog. Churchill was also, at times, a heavy drinker, most likely in an attempt to self-medicate.



The above is with tanks to Suite101.com.

Winston Churchill
Me with My Black Dog, Kiwi
                                        

 I got Kiwi, my black minature poodle in the summer of 2010 after my other dog cisse died suddenly and tragically. I never knew about Winston Churchill’s view on his depression and how he called it his black dog and even if I did it wouldn’t have stopped me getting Kiwi. He has been the best friend a man could hope for and been with me through the highs and lows. He never judges me or asks why I’m not in work or at training and he always cheers me up. So I know most people now associate ‘The Black Dog’ with depression but in my case the black dog (Kiwi) has been a one of the few positive things to come my way in the last three years. Yes I suffer with depression and yes I have a black dog but I wouldn’t change the latter for anything. So as my blog goes on you’ll probably read a lot about Kiwi and what me and him got up to on my good days and bad ones. It’s late now on Sunday night, infact it’s 2am Monday morning. Another late night. I really have to get my sleeping pattern sorted this week. I’m back to work Wednesday so I’m going to use tomorrow and Tuesday to get things done. That is the plan now as I lie in bed but the next day it doesn’t always work out like that. I seem to feel better at night, the mornings can be the problem. I like the dark for some reason. I think when everyone else is home from work along with me I feel less guilty at my failure to attend my own day’s work. Didn’t go training this morning, haven’t gone since I started this blog. You will be starting to doubt if I ever went at all this year. But I did and that’s 5-3 now in favour of attending. I have to go Tuesday night. COME ON ROBERT!! Visited my Nana in hospital today, she’s getting stronger which is a good sign. My team Aston Villa threw away a 2-0 lead in the FA Cup away @ Arsenal today. It finished 3-2 to Arsenal but at the end of the day these things are trivial. I took it way more serious as a youngster but then again I think I took everything more serious as a youngster.. I think I’m immaturing instead of maturing? The league fixtures are out, Blackhall are due to play Navan in the first round. Tough. Not looking like I’ll be apart of it at this stage.
Hmmm ‘My Black Dog’s’ moment of the day?? Kiwi playing with baby James in our sitting room-he’s so good with kids. Unlike Churchill’s black dog. Anyway it’s bed time. We are looking at a new week. I’ve three days work and I’m going to go training. I’ll keep you posted. RC 
TUESDAY, 31 JANUARY, 2012
I’m sorry I didn’t check in with you yesterday but in truth you missed nothing anyway. It was another day of me sitting in behind closed doors though I did briefly have to leave the comfort and safety of my house to go to the bank to try correct a problem I had with Vodafone. They are still charging me even though I cancelled my account with them in November. I hope it’s sorted now. Little things like that annoy me and I don’t rest till they are sorted. Other than that I didn’t get up to much but I struggled to get out of bed, struggled to face the day.
It’s 8pm now on Tuesday and I’m watching Everton v Man City…No I didn’t go training tonight, I know if I could just get back into it I would probably be fine, if I don’t soon I probably never will. That’s 5/9 now. The one thing I would say to other people that suffer with any form of depression is to try and get out and about, even if you can’t work, try and get some exercise in, fresh air, anything. Don’t lock yourself up in the house like I did and continue to do. And also TALK, TALK and TALK some more. That is the one most important thing you can do. It’s worse to keep your thoughts locked up to yourself. I am back to work tomorrow for the first time since Christmas, I’m very nervous about it. It’s been a month which is actually not that bad because over the past three years when I went through these spells, I could miss up to three months of work. I work in Kilcock Motor Factors and at this point I must praise my boss Paddy for his understanding and kindness throughout all this. It can’t have been easy for him either and I will be forever in debt to one of life’s gentlemen.

Another late night, I just can’t seem to get out of this rut. It’s like what it used to be like when I lived on my own in the mobile home. Ive had a few drinks this week, which goes against the wishes of my consultant. I try not to but alcohol can take away all the worries of the world…Even if it is only for a short time and I know when I wake the next day I will regret it and feel worse than ever. But I will get into alcohol in more detail another day. But for now I recommend (if you have more will power than me) to avoid alcohol because it too is a depressive and doesn’t mix well with any medication one would be on. I better sleep, it is 2am. I had once again ‘Two Black Dogs’ by my side today. The marvellous loyal Kiwi and the dark, lonely one, Depression. I wish he would go away. Sometimes Kiwi chases him away but he always comes back!! Kiwi’s favourite moment of the day had to have been him and Max getting all the left over sausages. Oh and Cisse is back in the Premiership, yay. Wish our Cisse was back.

WEDNESDAY, 01 FEBRUARY, 2012
Today was a bad day, it brought me back to where I was in the deepest of dark days over the last three years. There are probably a few reasons for this. 1) I didn’t get up and go to work like I was meant to. Today was meant to be my return, alas, it didn’t happen. That alone usually puts me on a downer straight away, what with all the guilt swelling around in my head. The guilt of not attending and the guilt of not even texting Paddy to let him know. He will someday run out of patience and then faced with no job, I’ll be one hundred times worse. I did get out and get some fresh air, which did help a bit. Albeit was only a ten minute walk with Kiwi. But I badly needed it because I felt my head was going to explode with all the goings on inside it. I feel for Linda(my girlfriend) too because she feels it is a lot of pressure on her too. She feels that she is the only one that truly know how low I get and that at this moment and time I’m nearing my lowest times again. She says that I should talk to my family, it will help me and relieve her of some of the strain of carrying all my problems on her own. Most people only think of the person suffering with depression but it can often be harder on their nearest and dearest and those closet to them. I reassure Linda all the time that everything is and will be OK. But I don’t even really believe that myself. I say it just to help her. I’m so grateful she has stuck by over the past few years and I love her very much. And I urge everyone out there to think of the loved ones around the illness and not just the patient. I took some of Linda’s advice on board today and text my sister Louise to let her know I wasn’t feeling too well. She usually gets the ball rolling and I’ll be expecting a chat from my mother soon. My mam and dad find it hard to approach me it seems and I understand that, it can’t be easy on them. I wish I could just open up and talk like I did when I first broke down three years back. They are always here for me, I know that and I am glad I am living back home with them, the company alone stands for a lot. There is nothing worse than been alone and them long nights, alone in the mobile were the toughest. So I said it was a real bad day but thinking now it had some good points. I text Louise (something might come of that), I went for a walk with Kiwi and I spent some time with Nana, who is getting better and home from hospital. It’s all about getting out and about but that’s easier said than done!! Watched some footy tonight on the TV (ahh football my saving grace sometimes). 12am now, if I get to sleep by one it will be another plus. Gradually start getting to sleep earlier, though I have been struggling to sleep of late. Fingers crossed. Ohh and Cisse scored on his QPR debut tonight v Aston Villa. Good and bad news for me. Good because Cisse scored. Bad because I support Villa. But it ended 2-2 so all is fair as they say. Night!

Linda, Kiwi and Myself on a walk when Kiwi was a pup and I was in the midst of the ‘The Black Dog’

THURSDAY, 02 FEBRUARY, 2012

Today was a weird day, it started well by me trying to get into a routine again so I got up at half nine and got a few bits done. Mind you all them bits were in the vicinity of the house so I wouldn’t have to be meeting people outside my family, outside my current comfort zone. You go into hibernation and ignore people when your feeling low and depressed and I have become an expert at that over the last few years, people must think I am either ignorant or very odd, one week I could be all over them and the life of the room, the next I wouldn’t even answer the phone to them. This is how my day took a turn for the worse today when two lads off the Blackhall team contacted me on Facebook. Two lads I would only know to say hello to or carry out small talk with. They were wondering where I have been the last two weeks. One put it like this, ”Where da fuck ave u been”?? And the other, ”Are u in hiding”?? I respect these lads and I do want to tell them why I really haven’t been there. Don’t want them thinking ohh it’s only Cox, he usually fucks off after a week or two anyway. So I am thinking tomorrow to tell at least one of them the truth. The more that know the better eh. Leo Turley my manager has been ringing me too. (He knows what’s going on and I can see he wants to help) But I can’t face to press the green button on the phone. I had a missed call to from Jamie Moore, the players liaison officer (to put it poshly) and then the one that really hit me was a text from close friend and cousin Liam Howlett asking was there any reason why I had been ignoring him lately? I did reply to him and he does know about my problem so he offered to call in for a chat. Himself and Michael Snee had been trying to contact me to train but I had not been replying. So all this today took a bit out of me, why you ask? It’s only people looking out for you… But it’s hard for me to see it like that. My day was restored a bit by Linda calling by after college and she’s still here now and going to stay the night. She always tries to brighten up my days and does so on most occasions but there are some when even her smile can’t put life in me. There was a time when it was only my work, my close family/friends and Linda’s family I had to hide from and lie to. What am I going to do now when that circle has widened to the lads at football. I suppose just before I sleep now if I look at it positively there will be more people aware of it and the more the merrier. Night, RC

Me in happier times (far left), when I never missed football, now I  can’t bring myself to go!
FRIDAY, 03 FEBRUARY, 2012
A productive day was had today and maybe it could be a turning point for the year and more importantly for my future as a whole. I put this Blog live on the WORLD WIDE WEB today, I was a bit apprehensive at first and for a while I put it on, then off, then on until I finally summoned up the courage and left it on. Then I put the link to my Facebook page. I tell you it made my day, week and month seeing the response I got, especially from the lads at Blackhall and now I know it was the right decision. At least anyone that read it will have an insight into my life. So thanks lads for the kind words. I also had a good chat with Liam, who carried out his promise to call after work to see what was up with me and to see how he could help. So with his his help, (he’s going to call to the house along with Michael Snee on training night’s and drag me into the car) I think maybe next week I can make a return to training. We have our first challenge game Sunday morning against Fingal Ravens but that one is coming a bit soon for me. Then just a few minutes ago there I sat down with Linda and her sister Sheena and we tried to put a plan in place for going forward. So in all it has been a good end to a bad week and I can see some positivity on the horizon, but I know there is only so much all them can do and if I want to get better, most of the hard work is going to have to come from me. That is it for today, I am going to leave it all on a high and the positive things. There is hope!!

SATURDAY, 04 FEBRUARY, 2012
I just want to give you some information today on what I was diagnosed with last summer….

Bipolar disorder: Manic depression; Bipolar affective disorder
Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick.

Types of bipolar disorder:

  • People with bipolar disorder type I have had at least one manic episode and periods of major depression. In the past, bipolar disorder type I was called manic depression.
  • People with bipolar disorder type II have never had full mania. Instead they experience periods of high energy levels and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as mania (called hypomania). These periods alternate with episodes of depression.
  • A mild form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia involves less severe mood swings. People with this form alternate between hypomania and mild depression. People with bipolar disorder type II or cyclothymia may be wrongly diagnosed as having depression.
     
  • In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for the manic or depressive episodes. The following may trigger a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder:
    • Life changes such as childbirth
    • Medications such as antidepressants or steroids
    • Periods of sleeplessness
    • Recreational drug use

    • Symptoms

      The manic phase may last from days to months. It can include the following symptoms:
      • Easily distracted
      • Little need for sleep
      • Poor judgment
      • Poor temper control
      • Reckless behavior and lack of self control
      • Binge eating, drinking, and/or drug use
      • Poor judgment
      • Sex with many partners (promiscuity)
      • Spending sprees
      • Very elevated mood
      • Excess activity (hyperactivity)
      • Increased energy
      • Racing thoughts
      • Talking a lot
      • Very high self-esteem (false beliefs about self or abilities)
      • Very involved in activities
      • Very upset (agitated or irritated)
      • These symptoms of mania occur with bipolar disorder I. In people with bipolar disorder II, the symptoms of mania are similar but less intense.
        The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder includes the following symptoms:

          Daily low mood or sadness
          Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
          Eating problems
          Loss of appetite and weight loss
          Overeating and weight gain
          Fatigue or lack of energy
          Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
          Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
          Loss of self-esteem
          Thoughts of death and suicide
          Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much
          Pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed
      • There is a high risk of suicide with bipolar disorder. Patients may abuse alcohol or other substances, which can make the symptoms and suicide risk worse.
      • Sometimes the two phases overlap. Manic and depressive symptoms may occur together or quickly one after the other in what is called a mixed state.


    SATURDAY 10:30PM
    Match Of The Day Time- Sitting here watching the day’s goals & snowy conditions from The Premiership and while I do I just want to say that I hope the above info has given you a brief insight into a subject you may not have known much about. Also I wanted to say the reason I decided to write this blog and then make it public. I first started writing it as a Private little note to myself each night on my thoughts as they say it is good to write any worries etc that you have on a piece of paper before you go to sleep and it will help empty your head of all the racing thoughts and thus help you sleep better. So as I began writing I remembered a book that I finished reading a few weeks back, ‘Robert Enke- A Life Too Short ( the story of the German soccer goalie that tragically took his own life in 2010) and in the book I learned how Robert could never bring himself so tell his team-mates of his on going problems and how he kept it hidden from them and how that used to affect him and how he used to fake injuries to miss trainings and matches. So it has driven me not to keep my illness hidden and to put it out there to all in the hope that it will help not only me but someone else that may suffer from a similar problem. By the way that book is well worth a read. Match Of The Day….. Cannot believe Cisse got sent off in only his second game for QPR, funny to watch the games in the snow and Van Persie for the Golden Boot!!

    Robert Enke- A Life Too Short
      SUNDAY, 05 FEBRUARY , 2012
      First of all again tonight I would just like to thank all of you for your messages of support. I honestly was not expecting such a response and it came from all circles of family, friends and team mates and some of them unexpected but I am so grateful to you all. It has encouraged me to keep writing as much as I can. It has also made me a much more positive man at this moment in time than I was on the corresponding day last week and the intervening days. So again a big thank you to all. I do also know that even though I am feeling good tonight, tomorrow morning could bring anything, such is this illness. I am watching the film, Hotel Rwanda and my problems seem so small in stark contrast to what these poor people faced in the Rwandan war in 1994, but at the same time I am in a small war of my own, a war I hope someday I can win! Kiwi is sleeping here beside me after a busy day and Blackhall had their first run out this morning in a challenge game. By all accounts those that attended performed well for this time of year. Keep it up lads. I do not have much more to report from today but do bear with me in the coming weeks because I have plenty still to say. Today was another day of sport watching on the TV and Ireland threw away what should have been opening game victory in the Six Nations Championship. We also have a second Cisse in The Premiership and he too also scored on his debut today. He been Demba Papa Cisse of Newcastle and unfortunately he scored the winner over Aston Villa.

    MONDAY, 06 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Was at the 2nd birthday party of my Niece/Godchild, Emma this afternoon and it was not only great to get out of the house but also to spend some quality time with my family. I have noticed from reading back through my blog that I have not mentioned my family much in all of this and I feel it would be unfair to continue without telling you how great they have been throughout my depression and also continuing without thanking them would be unjust. I come from a family of five, my parents, two sisters and myself. I am the youngest, the baby so to speak. My parents are Pat and Sarah and my sisters are Catriona and Louise with Catriona been the eldest. Some people say that someone suffering with depression may have had something happen to them as a child, some life changing event, something bad. But I can say with great honesty that I had a great upbringing and nothing ever happened to me to bring on these low feelings that I get now. My parents were always good to me and supportive in everything I did and my sisters were always there to lookout for their younger brother. So whenever I had to talk to my GP or Mental Health Doctor, I would always answer no when asked if anything bad happened during my childhood that may be affecting me now.

    Me with my mammy, Sarah. What a lady!!

    Anyway it was when I first started feeling bad and just after when I broke down infront of Linda one night, that I decided that my family should know what I was going through. At the time it was the hardest thing to do, telling them. I was so worried, worried how they would take it etc. I guess I was just scared. I had spent weeks before hand hiding from them the fact that I had been missing work, I would spend days on end just driving around in my car, driving anywhere, just to fill in the time until I could return home @6pm and pretend I had been in work, they were the toughest days. Looking back now, I cringe because I would have been a road hazard the way I was feeling. I would be just driving around in a daze all day, thank God that nothing bad happened. But at the time I didn’t care. I am getting off the point a bit, basically what I want to say is that when I told my family how I was feeling some three years ago or more, the weight that lifted off my shoulders that day was immense and my family have all been a rock for me ever since and I could never thank them enough. So I urge anyone reading this that feels in anyway low at all, do not keep it locked up inside, tell someone, tell your family and if you cannot tell them, tell someone you trust. Because I could never emphasise enough just how important it is to talk. And yes it is hard, I am still not perfect at it and there can be a lot of times when I still keep things to myself but feel after a while that my head is going to explode and I tell you that feeling would not go away until I TALKED. The night I broke down infront of Linda, I cried for hours, it was like a few years of tears were coming out of me and I am not ashamed to say it that I have cried a good few times since. So I am so grateful to my family and Linda for been that shoulder to cry on when needed. And there are others, I am not forgetting ye, but you all know who you are so thank you. My next problem was how I was going to tell my family and for something so serious you would think it would have to be face to face but when you are feeling low that is not the easiest thing in the world so God bless the aul text message!! A text to my sister Louise got the ball rolling and by the next day I was ready to battle my depression and without my family on board it is a battle that I would have never been able to commence. So yes it does seem strange I had not mentioned them much but you have seen how long I would be writing for if I had to talk about them everyday!! I don’t want to bore you either ha! In all I felt a little bit better today, maybe it is time to start re-building a few small bridges?

    My father, Pat & me @ a Meath game in 2010

    TUESDAY, 07 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Why did I get Depression? Losing Blackhall Gaels and losing John Jennings….? No.
    This is a piece I wrote about a year or more ago and I said I would add it to my blog today.
    I couldn’t tell you an exact date or even year that this ‘’illness’’ called depression (a word I use only for your benefit but a word I don’t like) struck me. Looking back now I would have to say that it was happening to me over a prolonged period of time and I never even realised it. If I had something physical happening to me like a tumour or maybe even something as small as an appendix I would have noticed and got it treated but this evil disease generally creeps in under the radar and affects you as bad if not worse as the aforementioned physical problems. If I was to have a stab at when it all started I would say late 2004, but i’m only really basing that on the fact that up to then I was flying and at the top of my game in the  GAA world with my club Blackhall Gaels. 2003 had seen me win the senior championship with them while 04 saw me nominated for a green star award (like the all-stars where the best 15 club players for the year are picked and presented with a plaque and the chance to face the best county players in Meath), so i’m  kind of thinking that someone with depression would not be able to train or compete at such a high level and coincidentally enough I haven’t done since!! In the years between then and now I have always tried to make a return and rekindle that high but to no avail, more often than not returning to training in January with great intentions and quitting by early February or else not training at all and playing in lower levels which usually resulted (more often than not) in a red card…or two, with the most notable one coming in 08 resulting in a forty-eight week ban after supposedly assaulting a referee. I kicked a ball at him and missed and may have used some choice words to describe his physical stature but forty-eight weeks? Surely too much but nonetheless it was totally out of character and these outbursts were not only consigned to the football pitch but it was happening in work and on nights out so anger was an issue, things just weren’t right but of course at the time and all through these years I never put it down to the big ‘’D’’. 04 also see me lose my best friend John Jennings to SADS (sudden adult death syndrome) and that was put down as a major factor for a few years for my strange behaviour and I along with Linda (my girlfriend of eight years now) and my family all were of the same opinion and thought it would pass. Looking back on it now and having gone through things and broken them down and talked to various people, yes losing John in such a sudden manner that it was had a massive effect on my life and surely didn’t help in the development of this disease but I know I grieved for John a lot and in my own way and I think I have dealt with that issue and though i’ll never forget John for as long as I live, losing him is not the reason I have a story to tell you about my journey through depression, a journey I am not at the end of but I do hope that I have the back well and truly broke on it. So as of now I still have no answer, I will just have to keep looking I guess. Today was OK I guess, they are all a kind of rolling into one at this stage and I am doing nothing much of interest. Did not get out of the bed as I thought I might have last night

    but I do got to try and take control soon or this dark patch will turn out to be as bad as the ones I used to have, ones that used to last three months. The messages of support are still coming in and for them I am still extremely grateful. Depression is in my family so that could be one the reasons I have got it but that is something I will talk about again. That and the dreaded alcohol. Night for now. Blackhall’s second challenge game tomorrow night, away to Celbridge. RC.

    Junior C Champions 2001, One of very few trophies myself and John won together. We are pictured side by side in this photo. John in the goalie’s jersey and me to his right

    John Gerard Jennings R.I.P. (1984-2004), Mulhussey, Kilcloon.

    Appreciation.

    John GerThe Parish of Kilcloon, Batterstown and Little Chapel was deeply saddened and shocked recently at the sad news that John Gerard Jennings passed away suddenly at his place of work on Tuesday the 21st of September 2004 at the early age of 20 years. John Gerard was first and foremost a member of the Jennings family and Blackhall Gaels GAA Club wish to extend their deepest sympathy to his mother Rita, brother David and sisters Helen, Pauline, Valerie, Bernie and Kate at this sad time. We also remember John Gerard’s late father John, his girlfriend Nicola, his extended family and his many friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.
    John Gerard attended Mulhussey National School and later Scoil Dara in Kilcock and on leaving school he went on to serve his apprenticeship as a plumber. John Gerard was, and always will be a big part of Blackhall Gaels. A gentle giant he loved his football and wore the Meath goalkeeper jersey with distinction at Under 14 when he lined out on the winning Fr. Bannon Cup side in 1998. He was further rewarded with County honors playing with the Meath Under 15 side in 1999.
    He played underage football with Blackhall Gaels at all levels from Under 12 up to minor. In 2001 he graduated to the adult ranks and was ‘netminder’ for the Junior ‘C’ team which won the County title and gained promotion to Junior ‘B’. In 2002 John Gerard went on to play for his club at Minor, Under 21, Junior ‘B’ championship, ‘B’ League, Feis Cup and at senior level in the All County ‘A’ League. One of his finest hours playing for Blackhall Gaels was in the Under 21 championship semi-final in December 2002 when he made some outstanding saves, including a penalty, which earned his beloved ‘Gaels a draw against Navan O’Mahony’s. He played Under 21, ‘B’ League, Junior ‘B’ championship as well as ‘A’ League in 2003 and also lined out for Blackhall Gaels this year in the All County ‘B’ League competition.
    John Gerard was popular with all both young and old and everyone enjoyed a respected his good company. He brought with him a warmth and sense of good humor wherever he visited and was a friend to all both on and off the field of play. Where he sat in the dressing room was where the sun shone, everything just seemed to happen around him. That was a measure of the young man who was totally honest in everything he did.
    The loss of John Gerard will be deeply felt by all his playing comrades, his mentors, supporters and club members. We all feel lucky to have known him. May his memory be a blessing. May he ‘Rest In Peace’.

    Submitted by Blackhall Gaels GAA Club. (Pat Callanan, PRO) 11/10/2004.

    WEDNESDAY, 08 FEBRUARY, 2012
    4PM:
    Think I will keep it short and sweet today. I have wrote a lot in the last few days and I don’t want to bore you, ha!! This morning was a ‘real pull the duvet over your head morning’ and hide from the world. I could not get out of the bed but that probably wasn’t helped by the late night last night. I was 50% to blame for the late night simply because I did not go to bed until after one but I didn’t finally sleep until around five, I just couldn’t. That couldn’t be right? I haven’t done much of note today so far but it is amazing the small things that make you feel like you have achieved something when you feel this bad, wait for it… My triumphs for today so far have been putting new bed clothes on my bed, hoovering the room and lighting the sitting-room fire. WOW. I can take the rest of the day off. The last couple of weeks have been hard and I haven’t been walking Kiwi as much but he is so loyal and sticks by my side no matter what. He is quiet today though and sleeping a lot, please don’t say ‘The Depression’ is spreading!!
    11PM: Well. Tonight wasn’t expected. I was settling in for another night of not leaving the safety of the house and not having to face anyone, when Liam and Michael arrived to bring me to the game in Celbridge. I had no intentions of going, sure I told you earlier of my days’ triumphs didn’t I? I had even showered so the idea of playing football wasn’t on the agenda. But I guess the real reason I didn’t want to go was that it meant facing all the lads, the same lads that had read this blog and though they had all been so supportive by text or Facebook, the idea of facing them in person scared me. But Liam wasn’t taking no for an answer and wouldn’t leave without me. So I went. At first I thought I would be only going to support but he got me to bring the gear. Once again the lads that know about this were grand, they made me feel at ease. There were about thirty or more of us there and those of us that didn’t start, trained. Right from the off though I felt lethargic, the tough work we did on Celbridge’s training pitch, I just couldn’t put in the maximum effort and then I was called upon to play the second half. I know I haven’t been training the last few weeks so that didn’t help my cause but it is not only that, my head is the problem and it doesn’t have much fight or energy in it at the moment. This blog has all been from the heart so far and honesty has been apparent throughout so I hope some people don’t mind me saying. I didn’t enjoy that tonight. For one of the first times in my life I didn’t enjoy playing a football match. When I text Linda to tell her that, I looked at the text and I couldn’t believe it myself what I was saying. People say don’t be so hard on yourself and I am sorry this blog has been mostly negative but I do hope that one day I will enjoy a game of football again but on the other hand it is not the be all and end all if I don’t. I would take getting better over that any day and maybe that is something I have to look at. On the plus side, though we lost, it was a good run out for the lads, I just heard over 25 lads were used, 8 others togged out and some others watched on. For the squad as a whole, things are coming together nicely. And for the lads I am really happy that numbers and morale are high. For me something hit me tonight and it has me thinking. Football is not everything… Through these bad years I have been putting myself under pressure over football, to play at the highest club level again someday. Now? I say it again, I will settle for feeling better any day. Sorry if I have yapped on a bit but I was just clearing out my head a bit to try and help me sleep. Who knows, tomorrow I may think differently. Night.
    THURSDAY, 09 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Got up early this morning for a change. Well early been ten o’ clock. But it’s a start as I try to sort this bad sleeping pattern I have got into. Guess I was asleep by about 1:30 last night, which beats 5am and 3am over the past two nights. So with getting up early I was ready for the day, ready to maybe get a few things done! I was a bit stiff and soar after last night, not from the match anyway for all I did but from the bit of training before the game. The lads on the team are still very supportive, with some texting me today to see how I was after last night. And for that I thank them. Got my haircut today (the bit I have left), no big deal says you but it was a success to me, made me feel good about myself. I see Fabio Capello resigned from the England job last night, aww God there is always drama with England leading up to a major tournament. Harry Redknap is the bookies, fans and players favourite to take over but as I said to Linda tonight that England job is ‘the poisoned chalice’. She laughed at me and all the little sayings I come out with. My friend Kevin is in Luxembourg working for the year and we chat on Facebook when we can, we used to play Pro Evo a lot (it would be FIFA now if we still did) and we used to mess around with teams etc and always pick the players that we liked, even if in real life they wouldn’t get near a starting 11, for England or any team!! So with Capello gone, my team for Euro12 is..4-3-3. Hart, Kyle Walker, Ferdinand, King, Baines, Wilshire,Parker, SCHOLES, A.Young, Walcott, Welbeck. Sorry I am swaying from the normal but I usually just write what I am thinking. So today went well enough, I text Paddy (my boss) late last night, when I couldn’t sleep and told him how I was etc. He wrote back this morning, said he was happy to hear from me and to keep in touch, so that made me feel good. The day was finished off with a trip to the cinema with Linda (the start of Valentines weekend!!) to see my favourite actor Liam Neeson in ‘The Grey’. The film itself was OK, watchable like but Neeson as per usual was his brilliant self. Always say it to Linda that if I wrote an autobiography I would get Neeson to read it to people. I love his voice which I just remembered I think I mentioned above a few days back, ha!! Anyway I am not going to get into the whole buzz of explaining what happened in the film, I have already said enough for today. Early night tonight, it is 11:30 and I am ready for sleeping, I hope I can sleep well tonight. Texting Paddy was the day’s big plus along with leaving the house for the haircut and cinema. It’s good to get out there. Chat tomorrow, Night. Oh one more thing (for anyone that cares) that England team is without Rooney as he is suspended for the first three games, that’s all!!
    Liam Neeson, The Grey

    FRIDAY, 10 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Ottway: Once more into the fray… Into the last good fight I’ll ever know… Live or die on this day… Live or die on this day…
    This quote is from Liam Neeson in last night’s film, ‘The Grey’. And before anyone gets worried that I am talking about death, you do not have to. This is simply a quote I liked in the film and decided to put down on my blog. It is not a question I am asking myself  as I write today’s blog from the comfort of my bed! Once more I would like to thank anyone who has complimented me on this, it inspires me to write on. At this point I would like to say that I am not writing this for the publicity or to get sympathy. Writing is simply just something I love to do and I feel that it is helping me through this current dark period. People close to me always say that I should do some creative writing or journalism course but as per usual with me of late I put it on the back burner and it still has not been done. Someday maybe. When the time is right. I just feel that I would have to be in the whole of my health to take on the assignments, tests and even the attending of the classes. So to all of you out there that may have given up trying to encourage me to go, I will do some day but not just yet. It is ten years this summer since myself and Linda did the Leaving Cert and that is the last bit of studying or exams I have done. And the studying was fairly minimal!! I went straight into the workforce when I left school, working in a tool hire shop for a year, before trying my hand at carpentry for a year, then settling into Kilcock Motor Factors from 2004- present day. I never even done an evening class in a school in between. So to get back to the point, college would be a big step. I will fight this fight first.
    Kiwi got his walk today, he deserved it the poor little guy. Myself and Linda brought him and her dog Coco up to Donadea and boy did they enjoy it. Even though it was a struggle for me to go, when I got there I must admit I really enjoyed it too. Fresh air and exercise are key to helping me get better. And Kiwi could help me with that, just got to walk him more. Blackhall’s first team are playing Leixlip in a challenge on Sunday in Batterstown. But I am been rested for the game, ha. After Donadea I was wrecked and have spent much of the evening in bed since. I told you last night I was getting an early night? Well for all the good it did. I was up, wide awake at 4:30am this morning and was sitting eating Ambrosia Creamed Rice by 5am in the kitchen. Just could not sleep. It is going to take time to get the pattern back to normal. I finally did get back to sleep around 6:30 and slept through until 11am. Needless to say my mid-night roaming had an affect on my room-mates, Linda and Kiwi. So sorry guys!! Also I just want to say sorry to some people (who I wish to keep un-named) for always been so negative in every day life over the past while. I do not mean it and I understand it must be very frustrating for you. At my age I should be ‘chomping at the bit’ to do things when asked, not answer with a tut or NO all the time. But to be honest, most of the time I don’t have the energy. Thanks for reading.
    Kiwi on one of his trips to Donadea Forest.
             
                                                   SATURDAY, 11 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Well what a hectic day in sport that was. First we had the famous ‘Handshake’, well no handshake in fact. It was built up in the media all week whether Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra would shake hands prior to the meeting of Manchester United and Liverpool in today’s Premier League fixture at Old Trafford. In case you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you should know that there is no love loss between this pair after Suarez allegedly racially abused Evra in a game a few months back. The former was subsequently banned for eight games a given a hefty fine. So today as they met in the line up, Evra had his hand out to shake but Suarez ignored it, a childish act if you ask me. I am a neutral in this so I must say I was also disappointed to see Rio Ferdinand’s reaction in refusing to shake Suarez’s hand and Evra’s celebrations after the game and then Daglish’s stupid interview after the game. I think soccer is the biggest loser and their are a lot of lads that should bow their heads ‘ in shame tonight!! Unlike the gent that is Paul Scholes. What a game he had, a return to the English squad?? Surely not. In separate news, can you believe Ireland’s rugby game in Paris was called off just minutes before kick-off tonight, when they knew all week that pitch was unplayable. Lot of unhappy fans in that ground when the news broke. Then they urged all fans to hold onto their tickets to get into the re-fixed game. Would be a problem for me, I would have probably thrown it away the minute I got in. They were the two main sport’s stories along with Mayo v Dublin’s league game been called off at half-time due to fog, crazy. Sorry just like to talk a lot of sport as you probably have guessed.
    I’m in bed now, just back from Linda’s sister Niamh’s house where we had a party for her other sister, Sheena. Was a bit of craic but they are all gone out to Mantra now, which I couldn’t of course. Don’t know if I am barred or not but I would not darken the door of the kip anyway. I will fill you in on the full story another day. I was in Easons this morning flicking through a few books. And while I was reading a bit from one called, ‘Beating the blues, how to beat depression’, I came across an extract in which the Doctor explained how he met a new patient called Jennifer and how she could not motivate herself to do anything anymore. He explained how Jennifer could not get out of bed in the mornings and after waking would lie there for two to three hours. She had once attended her local gym a few times a week but now found it hard to walk to the shops. She would also spend most of her days inside, afraid to face the world. She began to feel guilty for not doing anything and this made her even more down in herself. It was a viscous circle. And now she had come to her doctor for help. Reading that little story touched me, I could relate to it because it is exactly how I do feel, especially of late but it also made me realise that I am not the only one in this situation. She was looking into a way of getting better through Cognitive Therapy, I must look into it. Anything new would be worth a shot at this stage. I did not have that bad of a day today but then again the weekends are always pretty good. I was busy because there was a lot of people around but also at the weekends I do not feel as guilty or worthless for not working as I do during the week.
    Evra and Suarez Handshake
                                                                
                                                    MONDAY, 13 FEBRUARY, 2012
    So I took a day off from blogging yesterday. Apologies if you are an ardent, daily follower. I highly doubt there are too many of you out there though, haha. Whilst I did take yesterday off from writing, it does not mean that I don’t have anything to tell you from the day. It was quiet a good day actually and I made a bit of a break through on a couple of fronts. The major one was alcohol and me going to the pub and whether I could mix both without there been any drama, that there usually is whenever I am out and have alcohol on board. First off I am not going to talk too much on the issue because I feel it needs a day dedicated to that alone. The truth is that I should not be drinking at all because of the medication I am on but it is very hard to say no all the time, especially when my friends are out enjoying themselves. So yesterday I decided I would go to The Hatchet with my friends Michael, Liam and Erik and I was going to take a few drinks. And I can report to you today that all went well and despite a small hangover, I am delighted that I could enjoy the time with the lads without any drama at the end of it, while also forgetting about any problems for the evening. So thank you to the lads for bringing me along and to Linda and my parents for their trust in respecting my decision. I can never be thankful enough for the support base I have from many different directions. You may not think that what I just told you is a big deal but to me, it was. And I am glad all went well. Small steps… This is also a big week ahead for me as I am back to my Mental Health Doctor on Thursday and I plan to tell him that all has not been well since we last spoke. Maybe my tablets need changing, who knows but I need to get it sorted. I really need to get back to work in the next week or two because at this stage I am broke. My beloved Aston Villa lost again yesterday, which did not come as much of a surprise to me though. They suffered a 1-0 reversal at home to table-toppers Manchester City. On a  brighter note, Meath made it two from two in League with a 17pts to 5 win over our neighbours Westmeath. Kildare up next, ohhhh. Blackhall played their third challenge game in a week yesterday, at home to Leixlip and though it resulted in a third loss, new players are been tried out so hopefully all will fall into place when the league starts next Sunday, away to Navan. Valentines day tomorrow so I better get off this and get working on something for Linda!! So to summarise it, today and yesterday went well, things just might be starting to change for the better. Sad to see Charlie get shot on Home And Away though.
     
     
                                                      
                                                    TUESDAY, 14 FEBRUARY, 2012
    Happy Valentines day to you all, especially my lovely Linda,. Today is our 9th Valentines day together and I love her more and more each year. The way she has stuck by me through these difficult times is testament to her character. She is a massive ‘Sex And The City’ fan and in the first movie, Big reads Carrie love letters in bed, from the book, ‘Love Letters From Great Men And Women’. The following is my favourite and is an extract by Ludwig van Beethoven….. I hope you enjoy it.
     
     
    Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us …

    Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits …

    No one else can ever possess my heart – never – never – Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves … Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men …

    My angel, I have just been told that the mailcoach goes every day – therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once …

    Be calm – love me – today – yesterday – what tearful longings for you – you – you – my life – my all – farewell. Oh continue to love me – never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.

    Ever thine,

    Ever mine,

    Ever ours.        
                                                                         

    Ludwig van Beethoven
     
    Big and Carrie in Sex and the city

    I feel good tonight, just something came over me that I really want to get better as soon as possible. I feel I am missing out on the enjoyment of all the good things that life can bring our way. Like today for example, it was one of the better days over the last couple of months. Maybe love was in the air, who knows but I felt good, I was up early, off shopping and made Linda her favourite dish of ‘chicken and leek stroganoff’ (thanks to Jamie Oliver), followed by a good movie, ‘One Day’. It is amazing what a movie can do to your train of thought too and after watching the couple in it waste so many years before they finally got together, it had me thinking while driving home, that I have already wasted enough, I have got to really try to get better. It is not going to be easy. Linda got me a book, ‘Beat the blues. Before they beat you’…  Cannot wait to start reading it, it is the one I explained to you the other day. As well as outside help, I think it is really time I tried to beat this depression of my own accord. A good Valentines day to remember. Positive blogging for once too!!! 

                                                                                      
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    3 thoughts on “Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog”

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