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.

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