25/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

As I lie in bed here writing in today’s blog, I look at the clock and see that it is only 11pm on a Saturday night and I am already in bed a half an hour. Am I getting old or am I just simply losing my social life, my friends and Linda, everything I once took for granted at the weekends but more often than not messed it up either because of my low moods or too much alcohol. When I lie here and think back over the past few years and all that has happened, I think of what I have lost, the fun I used to have when I was always at the centre of a party, chatting to everyone in the room. Now… I am at home in bed while Linda, Sheena, Shane, the ladies GAA team and some of my friends are in Kilcock GAA at a presentation night and I didn’t go for various reasons. All the reasons however have something in common, this dammed depression. It has taken away so much in my life. Firstly I just don’t seem to have the confidence to be walking into a room full of people at the moment, especially when that room contains memories of some recent bad events. Ive fallen out with people that would be there over stupid drunken fights. I have lost friends who don’t contact me anymore and they would be there and I have transferred back to Blackhall so I cannot face any questions or smart remarks on that subject so I decided once again that the safety of my home seemed the better option. But that has been happening far too often of late and I think I have just lost my confidence of facing people. I had such a reputation of been so chatty and always the messer but that deserts me now. For now I am the opposite. I am scared and when you are scared, you stay in the safety of your home.
I have just received news by text from Linda though that she has won the award for the players’ player of the year for 2011 and though I am not there to congratulate her in person, I am over the moon for her. I am not been biased but she has worked so hard for years for the team and never won that individual accolade but now after all these years, her time has come and no one deserves it more. Add to that the collection of a Junior B Championship winners medal and I am missing a very successful night for Linda. I too was supposed to collect a framed picture of the team as a gift and a medal from them for my work as a selector last year but instead I am here where I can do no harm. For any of the girls reading this I would just like to say a big thank you for all your hard work in the past in any year I have been involved and I hope to be with you again in the future when I am better. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologise to some of you that may have got caught up in my dramas in the GAA last year and I should have listened to your advice to stop drinking and go home on that faithful night that I ended up in hospital. Thank you and sorry.

Linda clearing her lines in the 2011 Junior B Championship final

So what do you do on Saturday night when everyone else is out? Well thankfully for me, my love of sport has once again got me out of a hole as I just watched Rory McIlroy qualify for the World Matchplay Semi-Final where he will play Lee Westwood. I have also watched all the day’s Premiership goals, a European Boxing title fight from Scotland, some Spanish soccer and an interview with Stephen Ireland’s fiance on the Brendan O’Connor show. Any wonder I dream of some day been a Sport’s Journalist. It is my passion. Again something saved for when I am better.

I feel a sense of achievement from today, I got up early, myself and Linda walked Kiwi, we went to Bill’s Shop and we went to Leixlip to watch the Kilcock Ladies Minor team play in the league. Linda said it would be good for me to get out and about and mix, have a chat with some of the girls. And though my feet didn’t thank me for it due to the cold, I felt good mixing while watching something I love. It put me in the mood to play a game myself and with the start of Blachall’s B League campaign only a week away, I feel like I would love to train this week. Please God this feeling lasts. I would love to get back into it.
To wrap up today’s blog (because I have yapped on enough), I leave you by saying how much I miss the things I have lost over the past few years. My friends, I feel no longer ask me to go out with them, probably because of all the times I have said no but I’d say also because they are afraid I will make a show of them if I get drunk. I miss the football I once never failed to attend and all that goes with it. I miss been treated normally by my family and people close to me. I think they tip-toe around me now, whether it is because they are afraid to hurt me or they just cannot grasp the whole depression thing. I miss work and the craic with my work mates and the customers. In truth I miss feeling normal and living normal and I long for the day that feeling will return. For me it is sleep time. For Linda and my friends? The night is only beginning. Enjoy

24/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

Concern over depression figures: I read an article on the Irish times.com page today and it took me by surprise. It was about the results of a recent survey from people here in Ireland and it shows that the stigma attached to depression still exists in this backward country and a high percentage of people still have an old-fashioned view when they hear the word depression or if they hear of someone close to them that suffers from it, they seem to run for the hills.
I read that two out of five of us would not want to know if a loved one was experiencing depression even though almost everyone acknowledges talking about the problem is an important part of recovery. The 2011 Mental Health Barometer commissioned by the pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck also found that almost a quarter of people still think depression is a “state of mind” rather than an illness. Some 49 per cent of people said they would want to know if someone close to them was suffering from depression while 42 per cent said they wouldn’t want to know. Just 37 per cent of young people under 25 said they would want to know, said the survey, which has been conducted every year for the past six years.

The Lundbeck mental health barometer shows almost a quarter of Irish people believe depression is not an illness but a state of mind.

“There is clearly a sense of embarrassment or concern that discussing it would be too personal or backward… it appears that depression is somewhat objectified and feared,” said the survey.
Three out of five people said they considered stigma to be an issue for people suffering depression. And even though the perceived stigma of suffering from depression has reduced over recent years, it is still significantly higher than the stigma associated with a range of other conditions including: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer and heart disease.
“Sometimes people just need to talk. It can be the first step towards recovery. By providing a sympathetic ear and encouraging them to get professional help they could make a real difference in their friends life,” he said.
The survey also found groups perceived as being the most at risk of depression- typically young, unemployed- men were not the biggest sufferers of the illness. In fact, 69 per cent of those suffering from depression in the survey were women while just 31 per cent were men.
The occurrence of depression is perceived as being less common in the elderly, despite the reality that depression is common in old age, said the survey.
Overall the survey found depression remains a widespread condition in Ireland, experienced by 4 per cent of the population directly at some stage, with almost one in eight knowing someone close to them who has experienced it. In my opinion I feel that even though people are much more aware of depression now than years ago, they still tend to shy away from the subject and the person that is suffering can find it hard to approach family members or friends. I was worried about telling my family as I did not know how they would react but looking back it was the best thing I could have done as they have been so understanding and such a good help, as have Linda, her family, my friends and most recently my team mates at Blackhall Gaels. So I urge people out there that still have the opinion that a person with depression should ‘just snap out of it’, to learn some more on the subject, talk to the person and aid them in their quest to get better. Depression is everywhere in Ireland at the moment so we are all going to come into contact with it in some shape, way or form in the future, so please lets change are stone age attitude, drop the macho image and talk and help.


23/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

Depression:Top sports stars may seem to have it all – money, houses, cars and beautiful partners — but even they are not immune”
I know I am not alone when it comes to having depression, lately every newspaper I seem to pick up has an article on the subject, usually with someone famous telling their story of the dreaded illness. While it may seem to be a lot more common now days, it has always been around, just that up to recently your were frowned upon if you were depressed or suffered from any kind of mental illness and someone in the community would probably have you signed in somewhere. Thankfully that has changed now here in Ireland and the more it is publicised, hopefully the more people will talk about it and not suffer in silence. I am glad I talked. On the subject of famous people, lets take a Premiership footballer for example. Recently I read that retired soccer player Dean Windass started to suffer from depression after he quit the game. Having this major hole in his life after football everyday affected him badly, something he had never planned for and he went on a downward spiral and could see no future. He nearly ended his life, thankfully he did not and decided to talk. But I talked to someone since on that subject and they kind of said ”sure why would he be depressed? Look at all the money he made playing soccer, etc”. I thought it was a bit narrow minded, he didn’t choose to feel that bad, it was just a dramatic change in his life and he could not cope. That is the most likely reason he got depression but why did I get it? Everyone has different reasons, be it something that happened when they were younger or a loss of a loved one or a job but I still have not pinpointed what has made me feel this way. Maybe it is just a chemical imbalance in my brain, something I could not have prevented. So depression can hit people in all walks of life. Today I look at it in sport as it is my main interest so below is a list of some people I have learned that suffer or if they have suffered and are now better, I apologise and say well done for beating it and for helping others. I have read books on some of these people and I admire them a lot.
Rober Enke: German soccer goalie. RIP. Took his own life in November 2009.
Dean Windass: Former Premiership soccer player
Alan Quinlan: Former Munster and Ireland rugby star
Marcus Trescothick: English cricketer, hero of the 2005 Ashes Series
Kelly Holmes: British Olympic 800 & 1500m champion
Frank Bruno: former heavyweight boxing champion
Neil Lennon: Former Celtic captain whose family have also been affected
Serena William: 11-time Grand Slam tennis champion
John Kirwan: Former All Blacks winger who is part of a depression awareness campaign
Gary Speed: RIP. Welsh soccer player and later manager.
Today lets look at John Kirwan and what he said on ‘MailOnline

”It just comes on you and it squeezes everything. Your heart races, you panic.

People see people who they think are super-human or super lucky and the good income that often comes with top-level sport. But that doesn’t matter with your mental well being.

I was very lucky I didn’t get suicidal. How bad did I get? I was in bed all day crying, shaking. The depression becomes such an important focus of your life. I remember waking up feeling great one morning and you think, ‘Oh, why don’t I feel bad?’ and then it comes on you like a cloud.

Getting help, for someone like me who saw getting help as a weakness, was a big step. I did an awareness campaign and that first step was really difficult for me. I thought people were going to think I was mad. Then, after I was lining up to watch the All Blacks play in 2005, a guy came up beside me in a suit and he said: ‘I’m an accountant, I’m 35. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be dead. Thank you very much,’ and walked away.
I was stunned but I thought, ‘if I can help one person, what’s the real risk?”.

John Kirwan, Former All-Blacks Winger
Blackhall won their challenge game well last night so fair play to the lads. It sounds like it was relatively easy. That could have been a confidence boosting game to play in. Kiwi sleeps as I write this, tired after visiting his friend Coco. Night all.

22/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

I have writer’s block tonight or is it that my current uneventful life is leaving me fast running out of things to say? The thing is I actually had a good day today, I was up at 9:30am, the earliest I have risen in a long time. But I was a man on a mission, I had a doctor’s appointment, which went well and helped me get a few things sorted. I cannot discuss these things as they are currently private but I am hoping that if all goes well they will help me in certain ways in the near future. As I sit down to write a small bit tonight, I am reminded by Linda of the tragic Robert Enke. She is reading the book at the minute after I leant it to her. She loves it and we both feel like we knew the man personally. In case you do not know who Enke is or have not read my earlier blogs on him, he was a German international goalie, who played his club football for Hannover 96 and who was on the verge of the German World Cup squad until he tragically took his own life in late 2009. It shocked not only the people in football circles in Germany but the nation as a whole. Robert too suffered from depression and I can relate to him, while Linda can relate to both Robert and his wife as she is going through similar problems that come with having a partner with depression. To top it all off, they too had a poodle.When I read a book I generally get engrossed in that person’s life for that time and when I am finished, I usually put the book on the shelf and forget about it but having finished Robert’s book, I still think about him and how sad his passing was.Unfortunately Robert Enke could not talk to many people about his battle against depression, his team mates never knew, many of his friends never knew and the people of Germany never knew.Thus his death came as such a shock to so many people. This is one one of the main reasons I have started this blog, to talk about depression and to let people know I have it. So I thought I had nothing to talk about tonight but Linda reading the book has brought this subject to my attention again. I hope I didn’t bore you but I really recommend you read this book. An interest in soccer would be a help but not a necessity as it is more about Robert’s struggle with depression and unlike me he kept it to himself. He would write his thoughts into a mood diary every night before bed, to help empty his head, just as I am now. But my head is not full of much tonight, the good things that happened today, I am not worried about, any negative thoughts were emptied from my head during my six hour bender on FIFA 12. I really must cut back on that but when I am on it, it takes me away from this world and into an imaginary one. Take for instance over the past two days I was Chelsea boss, pretending Villas-Boas got sacked. I took over, got rid of all the players that have been there for years like mesers Drogba, Cole, Terry, Malouda and Essien to name but a few. No big earners anymore, was building a nice young team. I finished 3rd in my first season and lost in the FA cup quarter final so in the summer I cleared some more old dead wood and brought in a few more youngsters. I had made over two million pound available for future transfers from the clear out but a bad second season in which I finished 6th in the table, had no good cup run and was beaten in the last sixteen of the Champions League, saw me sacked. I guess the sacking of a manager so quickly is not confined to real life but also to its make believe PlayStation brother. I believe I could have made my Chelsea team into one of the greatest of all-time. Ahh well I will have to try with someone new tomorrow!! Nothing to report on the Kiwi front, when I do nothing, he does nothing, as he never leaves my side. He is a black dog I like having around though. Blackhall’s second team had that challenge game tonight, didn’t hear any reports back yet. I should have been there.

I have some links of Robert Enke in action if you want to see them.

Robert Enke :
This one is his top ten saves, He was a top quality goalie

This next one is nice but it is not about football it is about his life:

Robert Enke saves a shot in training

21/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

I am sorry that if everyday my blog seems repetitive but unfortunately that is exactly how my life is at the moment so whilst I am trying to keep the reader interested, I really must write how I feel on that day because firstly when I set this up I had no intentions of making it public, it was solely set up as a place for me to put my thoughts down at the end of the day and to clear my head. Maybe I am been negative and you don’t think it is repetitive or boring, if the latter is right, I thank you very much!! My enteries of late have been very long and though I get carried away at times, it is one of the activities that has brought a small bit of joy to my life in recent weeks. I really do hope that some day my entries will be full of happiness and I can look back on these dark days and help others but for now I must soldier on. It is a funny illness, every night before I sleep I say to myself that tomorrow I can change all this, that I could go to work, go training, bring Kiwi on a long walk, get up early, the list is endless. But when morning breaks, the tiredness is unbearable, the duvet gets pulled over my head and another day is to be wasted. Sometimes I doubt if I am really depressed and think maybe I am just lazy and have got stuck in a rut. But even the laziest of us surely could not live out every day the way I or any other depression sufferer does? I got my first message of support today from someone I do not know, it made me happy, and I thank him for his words and a link he sent me that helped. The word is spreading. Aww the good old pancakes were had today, even Kiwi joined in on the feast and helped himself to a corner of one!! The start of lent tomorrow, could it bring with it some new beginnings? Another week of no training looks on the cards as I failed to raise myself to attend tonight. I soon might have to change the heading of my blog, leaving out the Blackhall Gaels part, if I don’t start going. But how can I go? A cycle to my Nans house (300mtrs away) was a battle today. There is so much death around lately and it is so sad to see and I am greatful I have an illness that hopefully will not kill me but on some of my worst days through the years, I used to think wouldn’t it be nice to fall asleep and not wake up. My pain would be over. But as bad as I get now, I do not want that to happen, I want to get better and experience a feeling of joy in my life once again. Everyone deserves that. Aswel as not going to Blackhall training, I haven’t yet attended a training session of the Kilcock Ladies, where I am supposed to be a selector. Below is a photo of me with the ladies before they won the Junior B Champioship in Kildare last year. They are a great bunch of girls to work with and I have got to know so many of them over the years aside from football and with regards my depression, some of them have been of great help.
Me with the Kilcock Ladies

20/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

First and fore most today, happy birthday to my father. A man of few words but a man that has always been here for me and has helped in his own way since I first got this depression. Thanks Pat and happy birthday!! Had a fairly productive day today, I left the house for starters. Remember yesterday I talked about benefits and money etc? Well today I went into the citizens information office in Maynooth and got some useful information on what I could be entitled too. So that was good. We got Kiwi groomed today also but I will not mention where because we were not happy with the job at all. Like we payed 35euro and apart from his face he looks like he has more hair now than this morning. How is that possible? But of course me been non confrontational said it was fine. I probably just wont bring him back there. Was hoping to put up a nice photo of him groomed tonight. He was happy though as he got a goodie bag for his troubles. It was good to be getting out and about though for the morning. I am tired now though, I think it may be since my tablets got upped. I read an article from The Irish Examiner today that novelist Marian Keyes wrote about her troubles with depression. It was interesting and again I could relate to almost every point she made. It seems to be that everyone suffers from the same symptoms. She has had it on and off in her life so again I am hopeful I can beat mine as she has numerous times. And soon. I do not know if it is because I am depressed and look out for it more but everyday I open a paper or turn on the Internet, I read a new story of someone that has or had depression. I think it is rampant in Ireland at the moment and I am glad of all the awareness that is been raised because it is so sad to see lives been lost as a result of this illness. The link below is worth a read. I read that Marian found baking a good way of helping her on her days during depression. Baking now there is an idea.


Marian Keyes
I got a text today to say Blackhall have a second team challenge on Wednesday night against St.Finians of Newcastle so I might go to that if I feel up to it. Could be a good start to lent!! Pancakes tomorrow, yes.

19/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

The one major problem I have had to face over the past three years with depression is the amount of days I have missed in work. I would say I have been at home more days than I have spent in work. At first I missed about three months, then worked three months and it has been a fairly similar pattern ever since. Weeks on, weeks off. Months on, months off. And it has been very frustrating, not only for me I am sure but for my boss Paddy, my work colleagues Adam and Benny, my family and for Linda. I would love to be able to get up like every normal person out there and attend work everyday but I can’t. I am not a lazy person. I just cannot find the fight in me or the motivation but I know I will have to again and soon. Money has also obviously been a major problem but you don’t really seem to care to much about that when you are feeling low but it is one of the reasons I have had to move back home. With the way I am, feeling good one week while maybe feeling bad the next, I never looked for sick pay or went on the dole so I have never received any benefits all this time I have been off. So for someone that had so much planned in life, IE a house, a family, a nice car, holidays etc, all of them plans have been shelved and any savings I accumulated over the years have been delved into. I have even spent more time on Donedeal selling items, culminating in my mobile home, just to keep things going. I just felt the need to talk about this tonight because unlike any other illness, this is an odd one. Am I meant to get sick pay? But why should I? I have been missing work on and off now for three years. What path should I take? I can’t keep selling things. But I feel I must be one of the luckier ones, I have a good family surrounding me that are always here to help and many more friends too that if I was ever really stuck I am sure they would help. But what about someone with depression that may not be this lucky, may not have the same support base? This I think is when people see no way out and end it all and it is very sad. I hope I can get back at it very soon and start earning a bit because as well as suffering with depression, with no money I am unable to do some of the things I used to enjoy and that too can get you down so it is a vicious circle. I don’t know maybe I am naive and I should be trying to get every benefit out there but I am just not that type of person or am I just not bothered.
Kiwi is as per usual by my side as I write this. He is asleep, wrecked after a busy weekend. He was in Donadea Forest yesterday and enjoyed the left-overs of a salmon dinner from tonight. He was well made up!!
Blackhall unfortunately lost today, away to Navan. I am sorry I didn’t attend now to show my support and I don’t even know what happened to give a small report but I do know they lost 1:11 to 0:03. I am sure that they showed great fight as normal and will bounce back next week at home to St.Pats. I did nothing with them this week and for that I am sorry. Sure I could not even go to a party I was invited to last night. Dave (the boyfriend of Linda’s sister Niamh and a man I have great time for) held his 30th in Brady’s Maynooth and I just couldn’t go. I was not able to face people and hadn’t even the desire to get ready or dressed up. This worried me because I never felt this before. Sorry Dave and happy birthday. I did venture out once this weekend, into O’Neils in Maynooth for dinner with Linda, my mother and my father. It is my father’s birthday tomorrow so we went for dinner. That was a highlight and I enjoyed it. I also got chatting, if only briefly, to a former team-mate at Blackhall, Liam Rattigan. So that was nice.
DEPRESSION ruins so many aspects of ones life. It has turned me into a hermit.
Staying in all indoors did give me a chance to catch up on my love of sport but it turned me into a couch potato for the weekend and amongst the main stories from that weekend of TV watching are:
Messi scoring four goals as Barca beat Valencia 5-1.
Liverpool beating Brighton 6-1 in the FA Cup.
Stevenage holding Spurs scoreless to force a replay in the same competition.
Crossmaglen coming from behind to beat Dr.Crokes and reach yet another All-Ireland final.
Derek Chisora, spitting, slapping, brawling, broken bottles, cameras (with David Haye), ohh and he had a world title fight also, which he lost on point to one of the Klitschko brothers.
The ‘Bare Knuckle’ documentary on RTE1 tonight about the traveller’s fighting. What TV!!
Klitschko and Chisora before the slap