Monday, March 5, 2012

‘Too Many’ Suicides Linked To Depression Tablets’

By Jennifer Hough

The following article is taken from the Irish Examiner:

A former assistant state pathologist has expressed serious concern about the growing link between anti-depressants and suicide.

Dr Declan Gilsenan said in his 30-year experience carrying out postmortems, he had seen “too many suicides” after people had started taking the drugs and questioned whether GPs were over-prescribing them.
He said the evidence is “more than anecdotal” and he is willing to meet the minister with responsibility for mental health on the issue, as part of a delegation organised by campaigner Leonie Fennell.
Ms Fennell is the mother of Shane Clancy, who took his own life after killing his friend Sebastian Creane.
He had just started a course of anti-depressants and it is believed he took more than the prescribed amount.
At Mr Clancy’s inquest, Dr Gilsenan testified that there were “toxic” levels of citalopram (brand name Celexa or Cipramil) in Mr Clancy’s blood.
Ms Fennell has been campaigning since Mr Clancy’s death to raise awareness about the potential dangers of anti-depressants and is seeking a meeting with Kathleen Lynch, minister of state with responsibility for mental health.
She has enlisted the help of Dr Gilsenan and a former minister, who does not want to be named at this time, but who also has serious concerns regarding side-effects and over-prescribing of the drugs, whose popular brands include Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro Paxil and Celexa.
“Based on my experience of doing postmortems on people where anti-depressants have been started fairly recently I would have concerns about the link to suicide,” Dr Gilsenan said.
He said the argument will be made that people who start taking anti -depressants are of course depressed, and so could be at risk of suicide. “This will be used against what I am saying, but in my work I have just seen too many cases. There are things like accumulation in the system and dose-related concerns, where people go over a safe level, and I am willing to sit down with the minister and talk to her about these things.”
Dr Gilsenan said doctors need to be more careful when prescribing anti-depressants and people need to be monitored more carefully. “It certainly seems GPs are using anti-depressants very frequently. These are very important drugs to psychiatry and if they are deemed to be harmful then it’s a big blow to them and that’s why they are defended so much.”
Another expert, Professor David Healy, who also gave evidence at Mr Clancy’s inquest, maintains the pharmaceutical industry is being protected by psychiatry.
In the case of Mr Clancy, the Irish College of Psychiatry came out in defence of the drugs at a time when families in grief were going through a high-profile inquest.
Prof Healy said that although companies are legally obliged to agree that their drugs can cause people to take their lives, psychiatry is not. “Here they offer one of the greatest services they can to companies — they can and regularly do offer apologias for industry. They state in public that not only did the drugs not cause a problem, but that they cannot cause a problem,” he said.
At Mr Clancy’s inquest, Prof Healy stated that in a small but significant minority of patients, using anti-depressants can give rise to violent behaviour.



Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

So no blog yesterday. Nothing yesterday only one whole disaster. Things had been getting a bit better and then bang. One day. Now I have to pick up the pieces and start again but I am a bit more positive today and ready to tackle this head on. Do not really want to talk about yesterday much but just to say there was alcohol involved and I did some things that I regret. Must have been the leap year or something and then when Linda did not propose haha!! On top of that I did not get up this morning for my appointment so yes things are bad and I have a few apologies to make. Think I am going to stop blogging for a few days, concentrate on picking myself back up. Walk a little, get some sun. Alcohol is a no no from now on and even though I have said it before, I mean it this time. Bad things happen when I drink and I am a different person. Not violent or anything towards anyone but just self-destructive. So I am signing off for a few days. Thank you for reading and with yesterday missed from the blog, lets try and forget it ever happened. After all we won’t see that date again for another four years. It’s time to get better. This has been going on for long enough. And the one thing you do not say to someone with depression, ”PULL YOUR SOCKS UP”, I find myself saying that to myself at this stage.


Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

Before you read today’s blog, have a look at yesterday’s to help you catch up. Today is just a continuation of a short story.
Robert’s Story: Day 2 ‘I have a Black Dog’.
Black Dog can make me say neagative things. He can make my voice weak and lacking conviction.
Black Dog can also make me irritable and difficult to be around.
Black Dog thinks nothing of taking my love life and burying my intimacy.
He likes to wake me up with very repetitive, negative thinking.
Having a Black Dog in my life isn’t so much about feeling a bit down, sad or blue. At its worst, it’s about being devoid of feeling altogether. As the years go on, Black Dog gets bigger and he has started hanging around all the time.
I always say THAT’S IT!!! and attack him with whatever I think might send him running. But more often than not, he comes out on top. Staying down has become easier than getting up again.
I have become quite good at self medication…. which never really helps.
Sometimes I feel totally isolated from everything and everyone.
I have discovered that there are many different breeds of Black Dog affecting millions of people from all walks of life. The Black Dog is an equal opportunity mongrel.
Lately apart from my medication, I have learnt not to be afraid of Black Dog and have taught him a few tricks of my own.
Black Dog may always be a part of my life. But I have learnt that wih patience, humour, knowledge and discipline even the worst Black Dog can be made to heel.

Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

I have a Black Dog: Have you ever wondered why I use ‘My Black Dog’ in my title for my blog? Well if so, there are a few reasons. And I know I explained this in earlier blogs but just in case you have not been following me from the start, here they are. Firstly and most obviously, I own a black dog. Kiwi, the poodle. The most loyal dog in the world and someone who stays by my side regardless of my mood. Secondly the term black dog was made famous by Winston Churchill who suffered from depression and called it his black dog as if it followed him everywhere he went. And lastly because Linda recently got me a great book called ‘I had a black dog’. It is a short story portrayed through both words and pictures and is about the personal experiences of a man who had depression, called Matthew Johnstone. He externalizes his depression by calling it ‘Black Dog’. It is full of heart warming and insightful pictures revealing Matthew’s journey. His touching observations alighted my own compassionate feelings for the state of depression and in small ways it has helped me find new hope and to work through it. I found out that the ability to see my ‘Black Dog’ as something that is happening to me rather than the ‘real me’ could help me think about my depression in a constructive manner. The book is well worth getting if anyone wants to learn a bit more about depression in a witty way instead of reading for hours, the endless scientific explanations for it. If you cannot get hold of the book do not fret as I am going to use a bit of it in my blog and change the words a little so it is me in the book!! The name of the original book is ‘I Had A Black Dog’ but as I still have depression the first thing I have to change is the title… ‘I Have A Black Dog’

Robert’s Story: Day 1
I have two Black Dogs. The good one named Kiwi and the bad one named Depression. Now while Kiwi is thankfully always in my life, my Black Dog Depression has been in and out of my life for the past three years. Mostly he is in it. Whenever he makes an appearance, I feel empty and life just seems to slow down.

Black Dog can surprise me with a visit for no apparent reason or occasion. He can make me look and feel older than my years. When the rest of the world seems to be enjoying life, I can only see it through the Black Dog. Activities that normally bring me pleasure now cease to.

Black Dog likes to ruin my appetite.

He chews up my memory and my ability to concentrate. And doing anything or going anywhere with Black Dog requires superhuman strength.
If Black Dog accompanies me to a social occassion, he tends to sniff out what confidence I have and chase it away. My biggest fear used to be that I would be found out. I worried people would judge me. Luckily telling people of my illness has got rid of that fear and people have been great. Because of the shame I used to have and the stigma associated with Black Dog, I became a champion at fooling eveyone, both at home and at work. Keeping up this emotional lie before I told people, took its took an incredible amount of energy. It was like trying to cover up epilepsy,a heart attack or diabetes.
The original book ‘I Had A Black Dog’ was written and illustrated by Matthew Johnstone.

Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

The thing that I find with my depression is that when I am feeling low, I never have the strength to get out and do things or to try and get better but then when I start to feel well again I am the opposite. I try everything to maintain the good feeling. The most recent examples would be going back training with Blackhall for about three or four weeks, getting work done with Matthew on my body, eating well, not drinking. All the good things, then bang, the bad days hit again and for roughly four weeks now, my mood has been low, so of course I don’t have the get up and go to try and get better. I hope I explained that OK but in general it has just been a vicious circle for the past three years. I do not think the low times are as bad as they once were. Please God I am right and this illness might be close to weakening. At the end of this month it will be two months since I have worked. Not the longest period ever but getting close to it. The longer it goes on, the harder it is and when I take a step back and think about it, it is hard to imagine the day that I will stand behind that counter again and face the public. I have been in hiding for so long, there are certain places I do not go to as I am in fear of been spotted or worried what people think. I went to The Hatchet today with the lads because I feel OK there but I could not go to the GAA last night. You spend your life hiding when you feel like this. Going places never used to bother me once. I would be first there.
What a day of sport that was today. Good day for Liverpool winning the Carling cup, good day for Arsenal as they hammered Spurs 5-2. Bad day for Rory McIlroy, losing the world matchplay final and in doing so just missing out on becoming the world’s number one golfer, bad day for Blackhall as we suffered our second league defeat at home to St.Pats. Keep the head up though lads. The results will start going your way. Good day for Ryan Giggs as he celebrated his 900th appearance for Man Utd by scoring an injury-time winner over Norwich City.
Ryan Giggs celebrating an injury-time winner against Norwich City on his 900th appearance for Man Utd.
I enjoyed spending the evening with the lads, Liam, Erik and Michael, times like that take away the depression for a while. Though I am to lose Erik to Australia, Michael to Canada and Liam at times to England. Just when I get back into doing things with them, they go ha. I would not have mingled too much with them in the past three years and though they might have thought it was because I had Linda, It wasn’t. It was from me hiding putting myself out there to do things. Linda is great like that, she is the last person that would stop me from seeing my friends. She would encourage me to do so at any given opportunity. So it is my fault that I lost touch with my childhood friends over the past few years. Thankfully, when we meet up it is always as if we only seen each other the previous day and we never run out of conversation. My depression is not down to been a loner, luckily my friends have always been around if I needed them. The one friend who always is around me though and won’t be emigrating is Kiwi. He is asleep now at the end of the bed after a busy weekend. Such a loyal companion!!
Kiwi sleeping

 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 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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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.

Robert Enke saves a shot in training

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.

I also read the last chapter of Kenny Egan’s book tonight and I must say I really enjoyed the book as a whole. Not as good as Robert Enke’s but still very interesting and if anyone out there has a bad opinion on Egan, I recommend you read the book before you cast judgement. Will start my next book tomorrow. ‘How to beat the blues. Before they beat you’.

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

Friday, February 17, 2012

18/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

Below is a piece I wrote when I lived alone in the mobile. Not sure when I wrote it but it was sometime in 2011: Reflecting on the early days of depression from late 09 to 2010:
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’’.0 4 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 haven gone through things and broken them down and talked to various people, yes loosing 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 while I cannot pinpoint the exact year in which it all began or how or why it all began, I can tell you about the bad years since, now mind you when I say bad years, I know there are people out there who have had it a lot worse and lost people close to them etc and I have been lucky enough in that respect but you don’t think of these things when you wake up everyday feeling low, to me I was the unlucky one and though good things were happening around me, there were more days when life to me was SHIT and I was the only one with problems so you begin to distance yourself, go into hiding, hide behind the curtains not caring what is going on in the outside world and slowly get weaker and weaker.
But I wasn’t always like that, prior to all that I was just your average child who grew into your average teenager, I was never different or even picked on for been different, I was popular enough, had plenty of friends, a perfect family, my mammy and daddy (as I always called them and still do) were and still are the best a child and now adult could hope for growing up and my sister’s Catriona and Louise were always and still are very good to me. So in that respect I was lucky. And I know that some depression sufferers are as a result of some sort of sexual, physical or mental abuse suffered as a child but I can safely disregard all of the above and am very lucky to be able to do so and my heart goes out to anybody who did. People who know me now and read this would find it hard to believe that I was extremely shy as a youngster, especially in school and many of my end of year reports read,’’excellent student, loves English and spelling but is very shy and finds it hard to partake in reading excercises’’. That was me down to a tee, I always and still do love putting things down on paper but I am not the biggest fan of reading them out!! I remember one such example in primary school in 5Th class when upon returning from our school tour to the Ulster American Folk Park we had to write an essay on what it would be like to live in them times etc.. As usual I had no problem putting it down on paper and was actually quiet happy with my work but when it came to reading it out I froze and then…started crying. Looking back now I think it was only a ply to get out of reading the essay but if it was I shouldn’t have done it because the teacher at the time, Mrs Dunne, blew it all out of proportion and rang home to mammy to tell her and of course then it turned into a whole scale ‘’Robert’s been bullied escapade’’. And while I was been called some names during my time in school, most notably BBC (will explain in a minute!!), I would never say I was been badly bullied and to be honest I probably gave as good as I got but my crying sparked the biggest investigation of the year and all the lads in the class were called to the stand. So that was bullying crossed off any list of bad things to happen me as a youngster even though a lot of people at the time probably thought I was been bullied and for any classmate that may have got 500 lines for their so called part in the ‘’COX SCANDAL’’, I am sorry! BBC (Bucky Boy Cox) now there is one for you… See I had prominent front teeth for a whole two years I would say so that is how the name stuck. But it certainly didn’t have any long term effects on me. So no bullying, no abuse and overall good childhood, so I think I can move on from that part of my life so you can wait for my autobiography to learn more on that!!
As I write this I am only on tablets a year to treat my depression and though I know I have suffered for a lot longer than that I only went down the medical route of trying to solve my problem last may after trying many different alternatives before that. I am not quiet sure why I avoided the doctor but I think the main reason was that if I was on medication to treat depression that meant I would have been diagnosed with it and it all would seem very real. I wouldn’t mind both my sister Catriona and my aunt Kathleen are nurses and I ignored their advice for a while, i’m sure I wasn’t an easy person to talk to. Now would be a good time to tell you (having ruled out reasons why this happened to me) that two of my uncles suffered from depression so it’s in the family. Sadly Michael (my father’s brother) took his own life in November 06 and I never knew anything of what he went through, which I have since learned is a bad thing as the more people that know about it the better and I have even told people I thought I would never tell such intimate fact about myself. So what I would say to anyone in my position is talk, talk and talk some more. It really does help and it is surprising how good people can be. So yes we may finally have some reason for why I was to get depression, it is in my family. So after the few years of feeling bad and quitting football and starting to miss work and becoming tired all the time and not wanting to do things with Linda (the list could go on), I finally broke down in bed one night when myself and Linda were lying there and she was about to doze off but I couldn’t sleep, my mind was racing and then I just started crying, it just all came out that night and we went from there but I think if I hadn’t opened up that night I wouldn’t be around today, this disease would have got the better of me, it would have WON. I told her everything, talked for hours and let all my emotions out through my tears, I wasn’t ashamed of crying in front of her, this was helping, it was no time to be acting all macho! None of this came as any surprise to linda though, she knew me better than anybody but she couldn’t help me if I didn’t open up so that night was pivotal in my quest for recovery and happiness. I told her of my problems and how I felt and she reassured me we would get through it together. A weight was lifted off my shoulder’s that night and I slept a bit better than I had done in a long time, it was only the start of a very long road, small step but yet such a large one. Next step would be difficult though…..telling my family.
I have just completed a book called ‘A Day Of Hope’ which is the story of the 2fm DJ Garreth O’Callaghan and his battle with depression. I would strongly recommend it to anyone in a similar plight to that of myself and Garreth as it helped me on my journey and I am sure it will help you. So many sections of his book I could relate to and while I don’t think my depression was as severe as his our symptoms for very similar. One thing he talked about and I am also going to talk about and is very common in relation to depression sufferers is OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and though I was medically never diagnosed with it, it was actually one of the main reason I broke down in front of Linda that night. I just couldn’t stick it anymore, it was giving me headaches and if some things were not perfect, it could get to the stage that my head felt it was going to explode and the veins on the side of my head were going to pop out. Recently the most common place this has affected me has been in the work place but in a contradiction to earlier comments about my ‘’perfect’’ childhood, looking back now there would have been early signs of OCD present in aspects of my younger days. For example if I was to plug out the plug beside my bed at night I would have to check it was unplugged nine times. Nine times? Yes that’s 3×3=9 it’s just the way it had to be or in bed at night if I thought of something bad I would have to touch wood nine times, again 3×3=9. Some reading this may think I was or still am (because I still do that today) a freak but for me it had to be done or something bad would happen. I am not as bad in the present day or as the pro’s say ‘’ At the time of this going to post ’’ but I still have my bad days and particularly in work. For anyone that doesn’t know and pardon me for not mentioning already but I work in Kilcock Motor Factors in Kilcock county Klidare and we sell new car parts to the general public. And not intentionally linking everything back to that pivotal year of 04 but that is when I started working there, in September of 04.Anyway my daily jobs entail serving the customers, answering the phones, checking in orders and doing orders with reps oh and the one job that was making my veins pop, the easiest job of the lot…. Taking items such as 500ml aerosol cans (packed and sealed in cases of 12) from our oil store to the shelf, easy I hear you say, a young lad on his first day could do it and you would be right and it’s not that I couldn’t do it, in fact to look at it when I was done you would be well impressed but what you wouldn’t know or see would be me stressed out, counting the cans to make sure there were twelve there and all the labels were facing out and then count them again and if someone interrupted me mid-stream I would have to start all over again! A simple two minute job lasting five and me stressed from my OCD. Then I was putting more work on myself by checking up on my fellow workers (god not even Paddy my boss was at that). One of them could put an air filter down the back and one minute later down goes yours truly to check they put it in the right place. Or I would take a brake pad off the shelve to sell it and continue to look at empty shelf checking to see was it the last pad or if I was off for a day I would spend the first hour the next day going around straightening books and invoices etc. Hmmm straightening things, a real tell-tale sign of somebody with OCD. It wasn’t confined to work only though, it wasn’t long after I moved into my mobile home(my first home of my own) that the taps needed to be replaced due to over tightening and the door handle followed suit both from over checking. I am sure there are many more examples of this but again it could merit a book of it’s own and it was one of the main reasons as I said that I opened up to Linda. And I have since learned from research how much that OCD And Depression go hand in hand and feed off each other.
With the weight slightly off my shoulders in the knowledge of Linda sharing my problems, attentions turned to telling my family as both Linda and I knew if they found out they would push to make sure I got the help I needed. So of course in the good aul modern day way of telling someone your problems or your good news or indeed any news instead of having to tell them to their face, the text message. And then who to text? It was decided that Louise (the younger of my two older sisters) would receive the text and I knew once she got it, it wouldn’t be long before my mammy got it. And to her credit I wasn’t wrong, I explained to her how low I was feeling and anything else I felt the need she should know and within the hour my mother Sarah was out visiting and it all started from there. If I thought that I’d be cured there and then just because people were starting to find out and I would have help from then on, I would have thought wrong because that was a good two years ago and I am still fighting this battle. Again I am sorry if anyone got the impression that because I am writing this I must be better but sadly i’m not fully there, yes I am a long way forward from that night I cried in Linda’s arms but I realise I still have a long way to go. So the ball was rolling and naturally the question’s were been thrown at me. Why? how? when? But I couldn’t give my family the answers they wanted, instead they were met with a blank face. Catriona of course is the nurse and when she found out she juggled between nurse mode and loving sister and was and still is to this day a great help to me. She wanted me to go the medical route straight away, saying I could have a chemical imbalance in my head and that talking and tablets could help. But I was stubborn and probably still am and I apologise to all that tried to help me over the past few years but also thank you for without your persistence I wouldn’t be this far down the road to recovery as I am now. Since my problems first came to light there are many people who have helped me in their own ways so before I continue I would like to thank my aunt Kathleen for all her help and most recently taking my bloods and texting me now and then to see how I am feeling. I would like to thank my immediate family, mammy, daddy (man of few words but when he does speak they are always wise and helpful words), Catriona and Louise (the best sisters a man could have). My uncle Tommy for whom I confided in during the early stages, a man who has been there and wore the t-shirt. Also thanks to Tommy for travelling to Gorey, Wexford with me in September 09 to visit a healer and buying me the punnet of Wexford Strawberries on the way home!! Thanks to Michael and David my brother in-laws for how they both helped in their own ways. Thanks to my friends Nicky, Mickey, liam and mainly Calvin who endured many nights of me texting him telling him how bad I felt and who came on drives with me when I skipped work for weeks on end. Thanks to too Linda’s family who were like a second family and home to me. Breda, Michael, Niamh and especially Sheena who had me trying every tablet under the sun. Her heart was and is in the right place. But of course Linda, my rock you get my biggest thanks and xxxxx. How you are still with me is nothing short of a miracle, many a weaker girlfriend would have long since fled from me. Words cannot say how grateful I am towards you so I can only use the rest of our life together to show you how much I love you. For without you pushing me on I might not be here today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if I have left anyone out I am sorry.. I have, my boss paddy, a man amongst men. Any other boss would have surely lost patience with my numerous no shows, some which lasted weeks if not months so thank you paddy for sticking by me and even giving me that book ‘’ A Day Called Hope’’ to read, it has helped immensely. Thank you again you have to be the best boss in the country, thanks to too my work colleagues Benny And more recently Adam, I am sure I have wrecked many a day off ye were due in the last two years, so sorry and thank you to each and every one of you and to anyone I forgot also a big sorry and thank you.
While it’s great that I am moving forward and getting better and thanking people, I would like to take it back to 09 again and when it really began to affect my everyday life and take a hold. A year previous to that I had moved out of the family home for the first time, well I moved like a whole fifty metres out the back into a mobile home I had purchased from Louise and her fiance Michael, who had just bought a house in Maynooth following the birth of my little nephew Sean. Now it doesn’t sound much, it’s not as if I moved down the country but it was still a big step, my first home I could call my own and with it all the responsibilities and challenges of fending for yourself so I was excited at the prospect but when I look back now with it came a lot of nights when I was on my own so for someone about to face into a battle with depression this wasn’t good. I can’t blame Linda she was and still is going through college so I couldn’t expect her to commit full time and share any expenses though she is great in the way she stays over so much and has been since the day I moved in here. Not long after settling in, we got our first little dog, Cisse, having had bad experiences of dogs in my home when I was younger I knew my parents would never let me get another on while under their roof so this was the perfect opportunity and though Cisse is no longer with me due to a tragic accident in the summer of 2010, he was great company in my early days in my new home and we will never forget the little guy. He was with me through a lot of the dark days and never left my side on days when I couldn’t bring myself to even get out of bed. So things were looking up in late 08, a new home, a new puppy, working away, a trip to Euro Disney, fast forward a year and it will bring you to late 09 and the start of a downward spiral. Looking back on it now I was probably getting worse over the course of that year, bad things were happening mainly down to me and I wouldn’t have blamed Linda had she up and left me but once again I thank her for reciliance and though she packed her bags on numerous occasions and stormed out of the mobile, threatening never to return, she would always come back and stick by me. One such example was on the May bank holiday of that year, when after entertaining our families with a BBQ on the decking of the mobile on a warm summers day, a few of us ended the night in Murphy’s pub in Kilcock but of course as usual I drank too much (never knew when to stop) and ended up in a fight in the Chinese restaurant Mr. Wu’s after annoying the girl that works their another customer took it upon himself to interfere and the two of us spiralled out onto the street, it was handbags really but Louise and Linda were there so I had made a show of myself and would have to deal with the consequences the next morning. Physically I was grand, nothing but a fat lip to dent my pride and a rather nasty hangover to boot! But I felt shit I had let both myself and Linda down and I don’t blame her for her reactions. I woke to her shouting and screaming, calling me every name under the sun. And one line sticks with me to this day, ‘’why can’t you be more like David Murray’’? David is Catriona’s husband, a man with his head well screwed on, something I wasn’t at that moment and time. So needless to say Linda left for few days and though she didn’t live here full time anyway, her absence was felt. That was the first real bad thing to happen and was totally out of character so bad things were creeping into my system and it would be another two years before I could start getting them out.
I remember the first day I didn’t go to work because of the way I was starting to feel, it was September 09 and we had just come back from a week’s holiday in Portugal with some members of Linda’s family. I know it’s quiet common for people to struggle to go to work after a holiday and people often use the expression ‘’God i’m depressed after that holiday, I can’t face work’’, well that was me only I actually was depressed (even though I hadn’t yet been diagnosed yet) and having come home on the Saturday night and had Sunday and Monday to recover, I was all set for work on the Tuesday morning but when I woke that morning I felt like I had never felt before. Linda was beside me that morning in the bed as she had stayed the previous night but she was asleep so I didn’t want to disturb her but right from the minute I woke I knew something was up and there was no way I was going into work. I can’t remember clearly I this was before or after I had told Linda of my problems that night in bed but i’m pretty sure it was after. Either way I didn’t want to be bothering her at 9am in the morning so I got up as usual and planned to just get into the car and drive, that way she would think I had gone to work. To this day I still shiver at the thought of me driving that morning as I was safety risk to myself and other road users. I was in a daze from what I can remember, just driving and driving, going nowhere in particular, my phone turned off so I couldn’t be contacted by Linda, my family or Paddy, my boss If I had crashed that morning, nobody would have known where I was, all the time they thought I was in work. Of all the places I could have gone, I ended up in Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, again just walking around in a daze, not shopping, just walking. This morning was the first of many, many shit days ahead over the next two years. I sat eating a roll in BB’S Cafe and to any passer-by I was just another shopper, stopping for their ten o clock break!! But I wasn’t I was troubled man, hiding from the real world, suffering. Again the drive home was a blur, well it wasn’t even the drive home it was a drive around the country until six o clock came when I could return home with everybody thinking I had done a day’s work. Them days were the hardest because nobody knew and I had to hide it during the day so it came as welcome relief when I did finally tell people and I urge anybody reading this with similar problems, the key to recovery is to talk, talk and then talk some more. I drove to some places in them early day’s that I would never usually venture too, I drove to Blessington and the Dublin mountains amongst others but most of the time I just drove to random places to pass the day. The hardest part is to admit you have a problem and to start accepting help and I am glad I did just that for if I hadn’t I think this awful disease would have got the better of me and I fear I wouldn’t be here today. I am so glad I didn’t do anything stupid as it would have killed my parents, my family and Linda and it is a selfish act on the part of the person that decides to take their own life, as the loved ones left behind are the ones who will suffer. I know that is easy to say now as I continue to improve but back then I wasn’t really thinking that and I am sure that people who do take their own life don’t think of these things but I would urge them to stop and think of their loved ones first. I am glad I did and though I would have many more dark days ahead, letting Linda and my family know how I felt meant I could start getting help.
The more people that started to find out how I was the better as that meant I had more people on board to help, one of those was Linda’s sister Sheena and she made an appointment for me to see a hypnosis energy healer named Gerard in Kildare town, whom her boyfriend Shane had visited to talk to following the death of his brother Jason in a car crash. They said it could only help me and Shane said it had helped him to talk and even brought out his emotions he wouldn’t normally share with people. I was a bit apprehensive about this but decided to give it a go and nervously headed off on a dark Tuesday night in September. Gerard was lovely to talk to and while I don’t doubt his ability to help people he couldn’t help me and at least he was honest enough to tell me so and didn’t charge me either so that was very honest and decent of him and I thank him for that. He did however recommend another person in a similar field that might be able to help me so he gave me the name of a woman in Gorey, Co.Wexford, her name now evades me but I visited her twice and in fairness to her she brought me so far, had me take herbal vitamins and talked to me and did some reiki and energy healing with me but in the end I felt I needed more help than this and never went back after the second time. She did give me some good tips and relaxing methods and every day I woke I would say ‘’I am strong, I am healed, I am whole’’. Things like this helped but it could only bring me so far. It was during this time that I first came in contact with the herbal remedy for anxiety and depression St John’s Wort, which at the time I thought was helping me but in the long run looking back now it could have been doing me more damage. Some people had tried to warn me against it but I wasn’t going to listen, as far as I was concerned I was taking a tablet and this was going to help me. What is this St. John’s Wort I hear you ask? St. John’s wort is most commonly used for depression and conditions that sometimes go along with depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping. There is some strong scientific evidence that it is effective for mild to moderate depressionn’s . So with my trip to Kildare town and two trips to Gorey coming within a month of each other and my course of tablets started, you would expect some sort of improvement but there wasn’t really, i’d say in from the first day I didn’t turn in for work it was a good two months before I went back but after a few day’s into my sabbatical I did write a letter to Paddy explaining everything and put it through his letter box in the shop. I found it easier this way than coming face to face with him as I most likely felt ashamed for letting him down. He was and still is great to me over the whole thing and can’t continue to thank him enough. At this stage money was becoming to become a bit thin and I had to raid my savings to pay the bills and to just basically survive but my family were great on that front. Linda was in college so my days were spent mainly in bed most the morning, not seeing much point for getting up, my sleep and eating patterns were all over the place so that wouldn’t have been helping me. When I would get up it would be to bring Cisse out for the toilet and more often than not I would scurry back in before I would be seen. I was paranoid what people would think, wondering why isn’t that lazy so and so not working and saying fellas would give their left arm to have a job in the current economic climate. But the current climate didn’t bother me, I didn’t care what was happening in the outside world. So with Cisse sorted, it was back inside for the day, the curtains closed and the door locked and there were many day’s when a knock came to the door, I wouldn’t answer it. It’s not easy hiding in a mobile but I guess under the bed was as good a place as any eh? Some dark thoughts were in my head those few months but thankfully I didn’t act on them. December brought with it a bit of hope and I returned to work three days a week and was happy to be back in a routine and also I needed the money for Christmas and for some home heating oil as we were about to endure the harshest winter in my lifetime anyway and again when ya live in a mobile home in -11, you need heat to say the least. Linda thinks I have certain times of the year when I am depressed and when I am feeling good. She reckons march, may and October are bad months and strangely enough December and January in the depths of the winter are my good months. Maybe she is right maybe she is wrong, I don’t know but I do know I was happy to be back to a routine, was I getting better? It was probably just a bad patch, sure I probably wasn’t even depressed? Either way I was back in the game, onwards and upwards…or so I thought. My knowledge of depression was raw back then so I was foolish to think it had gone away, it hadn’t, it may have eased for a few months but right when you think everything is OK you can be brought straight back down to earth unexpectedly at anytime, as I was about to find out.

17/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

I think a short blog is in order today, after yesterday’s talk on alcohol. Since my appointment yesterday and on the recommendation of my doctor, I have to find things to do that will keep me busy, make me feel good or get out of the house. I have cut down on the PlayStation, with only 30mins last night and none today. I was spending my days on it prior to this and it cannot have been good for me. So I am back to doing something I love and makes me feel good about myself, reading. I have just one chapter to go on the ‘Kenny Egan Story’ and I must say that I really enjoyed it and despite what opinions some people may have of him, he endured a difficult time post Olympics, especially with alcohol. Which is a fitting book to be reading after what I talked about yesterday. And though our stories are of a very different nature, I can relate to his book and to him. I have great admiration for him, firstly for all the hard work and dedication he put into achieving his goal of appearing at the Olympic Games and winning a silver medal and secondly for the different battle he fought after all the fame, his battle against alcoholism, a battle he won and still remains to beat as I write. Yes, reading is a main hobby of mine so that is one of the things I will be doing to give my life a sense of purpose. My doctor said I should really try and get back to work, even if it is only for a morning or two a week. This in turn, he says, will help with my other problem of not sleeping at night. It will tire me out and also give me a great sense of achievement. Exercise is another thing I must try and do, even if it is just a short walk during the day with Kiwi to get some fresh air in. I can take all the tablets in the world but if I do not want or try to get better, it will most likely never happen. So it is time I push myself out of the house even if I feel I really can’t. This is probably one of the hardest thing for someone with depression to do. This along with no alcohol and the medication, should hopefully see me start to improve in time. Say a prayer to your angels for me. I know I have been.
Kenny Egan’s Book
A review on the book: with thanks to
Some people who become famous overnight take the change of fortune in their stride. It’s almost as if they were tailor-made for celebrity, perfectly equipped to cope with its rewards and demands.

Kenny Egan is not one of those people. The boxer, from Clondalkin, Dublin, went from little-known athlete to a household name when he landed a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics three years ago and earned a place in the hearts of a nation on the cusp of recession.

But Egan was not ready for the media glare, the financial opportunities his new-found brand offered or the hero status he was suddenly afforded. Instead, Kenny Egan went off the rails.

This memoir, launched amid considerable fanfare this week, details in unflinching fashion Egan’s painful and sometimes very public descent.
The book charts his drinking, his womanising and his myriad lows with such relish that one almost feels compelled to read through laced fingers.

Those of sensitive, conservative disposition would surely balk at Egan’s frank discussion of pornography, prostitutes and one-night-stands. And then there’s the utterly callous manner in which he treated his family and a long-term girlfriend.

The Kenny Egan that emerges is both a vainglorious, misogynistic lout who did his best to drink away his talent and a sympathetic figure brought up in boxing’s brutal world who was unequipped for life post-Olympics. The book documents his stuttering rise through the ranks of the sport that shaped him, taking the reader inside the ring for those lonely moments where there truly is no hiding place.
where there truly is no hiding place.
Boxing aficionados will appreciate this insight and the accounts of harsh training regimes in grim settings such as provincial Russia. But it’s Egan’s battles off the canvas that captivate most and elevate the story of a man whose career has largely stalled since Beijing. And looming large is his very own annus horribilis — 2009 — the year he almost lost everything.

My Story begins in March of that year when Egan and a friend went on a bender in Dublin that culminated in alcohol marathon on the other side of the Atlantic.
That he was supposed to fight in an international contest that weekend didn’t register with him — he simply disappeared, much to the distress of his mother Maura and to the intrigue of a media he had quickly come to despise.
His “lost weekend” was rife with farce. Leaving his Olympic medal behind the bar of a city-centre Dublin pub for safe keeping, he walked into his bank and withdrew €5,000, then high-tailed it to the airport with no luggage and no destination in mind.
Fast forward some hours and Egan and his friend found themselves coatless in freezing, snowy Manhattan, but with their back pockets stuffed with notes.
It was one of several escapades the boxer enjoyed/ endured that year. One day, he had been supposed to take his father to the hospital, but shirked this responsibility in favour of a trip to Malaga. Once again, Kenny just disappeared. He barely stopped drinking as soon as he hit Spain pausing only to have sex with a 40-something Liverpool woman he had met in the bar.
Egan’s description of the encounter is laced with nastiness. “She wasn’t great. I was exhausted and I genuinely didn’t want anything from her, but I got bored and ended up giving her a lash anyway.”
It mirrors his descriptions of other sexual encounters including the one, several years earlier, when he had intercourse with a Filipino prostitute: “She had a head like 100 miles of bad road. I’d paid up though so I went ahead and did the dirty deed anyway.”

As 2009 wore on, Egan developed an addiction to porn and easy sex. He talks candidly about “friending” attractive women on Facebook and asking them straight out if they would sleep with him.

To his delight, he says he was inundated with offers and found himself having to schedule his week, Tiger Woods-like, to accommodate the ladies who wanted a piece of the Olympian.
Not surprisingly, his long-suffering partner Karen walked away. Egan now realises how shoddily he treated her.

Sober for 14 months and a regular attendee at AA meetings, Egan says he is trying to put his life back together again. He attributes his rehabilitation to his parents, figures in the boxing world and his current girlfriend, Sharon. There’s clarity now, where there was none before.

“Sometimes I wish Beijing never happened,” he writes, “because it seems cheap to sell yourself for just a single piece of silver.”

16/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

Today was a very productive day. It is always a relief after I talk to my Doctor. This time however I will not have to wait another month to see him as I am due back in two weeks so that alone was good news. I do not want to talk too much about what we chat about for the time I am with him as I think some things should remain private…. maybe at a later date when I am looking back on all this and talking how I beat it, please God. I will tell you that I was very apprehensive this morning because I was worried if nothing came of my meeting, where would I go from there. But it went well, I am now on a higher dosage of medication, hence the reason for my return in two weeks, to monitor my progress. Also the torture last night and this morning as I had run out of tablets, aww I was in the horrors. Thankfully that has all been sorted now and I can look forward with hope. He told me to try, however tough it may be, to get out and about and back to work. Even if it is just a short walk or visit a friend or go to the cinema. Do something that makes me feel good. So I have to take this on board, I cannot continue to sit in, playing the computer, by the fire. And the main thing has to be NO alcohol, that is the one thing I will have to be hard on myself about. Alcohol in itself is a depressant and even though I have known all along how bad it is, especially for me, I have been unable to cut it out completely.
So the way I am thinking now is that even though Sunday past I made a big breakthrough by going to the pub without any dramas and enjoying the time with my friends, that will be it for me. A nice way to finish on it. Go out on a high so to speak. And at least I enjoyed it with my closest friends and I got home safe. I will still socialise with them but I know now that the tablets will not work with the alcohol, it is defeating the issue and that if I ever want to get better this is one major sacrifice I must make. Note to self.. Stay at it this time Robert! Some of the worst things that have happened me over the past few years have happened whilst I was under the influence. And I have many regrets but luckily people stuck by me. And I intend to repay them. I might as well talk about some of them bad times before I move on and put this subject to bed. Before I do though I would just like to say I never considered myself an alcoholic or never physically abused anyone because of alcohol (maybe I did on a football pitch but that was without any drink on board!!) but do know that alcohol was and will always be bad for me. We don’t agree.

Me, enjoying a beer on our travels of Australia. No Worries
Alcohol And Me:
I should have known that all was not well when for a few months before I broke down in front of Linda, if I was out and had a lot to drink there would always be some kind of drama. I just wasn’t the same person anymore and drink brought out the worst in me. People say that I am a very non-confrontational person and I lock everything up inside then if I have a few drinks the truth comes out. So maybe I had years of built up anger inside of me and it just started coming out over time. One of the bad memories I have from them days is the night a few of us went to the pub after a BBQ at the mobile I lived in for three years. I had enough to drink from the BBQ and did not need the pub. But I could never say no after a few drinks. Myself, Linda and my sister Louise went to the chinese take away after the pub and of course I started messing, annoying the staff, so much so that one of the other customers took offence and the two of us ended up out on the street, with my on the wrong end of a LUCKY punch, ha. I can laugh now. But back then i couldn’t, it was out of character and I payed for it the next day, with a fat lip and a well deserved scolding from Linda and my family.
As I mentioned on an earlier date in this blog, I lived alone for three years in a mobile home out the back of my parents’ house, it was my first experience of living out and though Linda stayed over when she could, most nights I was on my own and this lead to me drinking a lot, especially during the long periods I was missing work. I know there was no need for it and it was mainly out of habit and boredom. I thought I was drinking to feel better when in actual fact it was making me feel worse and the next day I could not leave my bed, it wasn’t even from the effects of a hangover but the pure feeling of guilt from having drank the previous day or night. I would say to myself that was it and I was giving it up but come nightfall I would be having another one. Of course this wasn’t every night but it was far too common. These were my darkest days and I feel nowhere near as bad now days. They were the only times I ever thought of self-harming and again that would be only after a drink. So I urge anyone in a similar situation not to drink, especially at home and alone. Moving back home was the best thing that ever happened me and that is only in the last six months, it probably saved my life. Not all days were bad in my mobile and I have some very fond memories of my time there with Linda, Cisse and Kiwi, memories I will cherish forever. As well as putting all these things out to the world, it is helping me get it off my chest, in case you are wondering why I am choosing to reveal some things. I am not looking for sympathy or praise.
Another night after a lot of drink in Maynooth, I poured a bottle of Heineken over the biggest, strongest looking man in the pub, for no reason. I think he may have bumped into me or something. Thankfully he turned out to be a gentle giant and seen my stupidity and drunkenness.
Of course there are probably many more small stories to tell, not to mention all the times I broke Linda’s heart and even though I feel low again lately, I will never go back to them days. I am looking to the future, without drink. If you are depressed, do not drink alcohol.
All them stories are dwarfed in comparison to the main reason I cut back on alcohol and now eventually decided to give it up… That faithful night in an UN-named night club in Maynooth!! I had been drinking most the evening with a friend in Kilcock and ended up in Maynooth and about the an hour into my time there that is when my memory goes and what happened will forever remain a mystery. When I woke up, I was in Blanchardstown Hospital after having been knocked out. I spent the night there and was released the next morning with a bad bruise to my temple, a soar nose and some more cuts to show for my troubles. I was attacked by two bouncers, kneed in the face and thrown against the door. Then I was left lying, alone on the footpath outside. And guess what? All this was for no reason (for a change). I know this because a woman got in touch with me on Facebook next day, a total stranger and told me she seen everything. I am so grateful to this lady because if she had not come forward, I would be still blaming myself for what happened. She said she seen them coming up to me, one grabbed me, held my arms behind my back whilst the other ”gentleman” proceeded to knee me in the nose and then they used my head to open the door before throwing me out on the street and closing the doors behind. Thanks lads, true gents! Again thank you to this lady and her friend for coming to my assistance and calling the ambulance and the guards and thanks to Niall for coming to the hospital with me. I never pursued this assault since, I just wanted to move on. That night hit me hard, at a time when things were going OK and it set me back a bit. I never want to put Linda or my family through that worry again. I never want to have to make a call home from A&E in hospital and I never want to be a statistic again, the stat that 200 beds are taken up a night in hospitals due to alcohol related problems. It was a bad night/time, the worst of my life and had it not happened I may not have this attitude towards alcohol. An attitude that has me giving it up. I want to remember it through good days with my friends, beside a fire, watching sport on the TV. . ”That’s My Two Cents”
Me enjoying a cup of tea with Sheena

15/02/12 Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog

So as you can see I have started a new page for today and will be doing so for each individual day from now on. It is for you, the reader’s convenience. The latest day will then always appear at the top of the page but if you have not logged in for a while, do not forget to scroll down. Sure you wouldn’t know what you would be missing! At this stage I would just like to thank you all again for giving your time to read my blog and because you have done so, this morning my views for that one I have been running for two weeks now, reached 400. So keep reading (if you want) and thanks again. It is the day after Valentine’s day and as I said in my last blog, yesterday was a good day and made me realise how lucky I am to be able to experience such days. I am sure for someone else it may not have seemed the most exciting if you were in my shoes, but for me, to feel and do normal things for the first time in ages was an amazing feeling. I felt such a good, strong feeling at the end of the day. Days like yesterday are rare though and today seems to be a bit of a let down as I have not even left the house yet. Small things are annoying me also but I have to stay strong. I have my visit to the doctor tomorrow so maybe we can get the ball rolling and come up with some kind of plan to finally get me out of this depression for once and for all. People say that some sufferers may only get depression for two or three years of their life and never experience it again. If I am in that category, surely I have served my sentence, please allow me some happiness for a change, happiness that lasts more than one day, that does not only come on Valentine’s day, Christmas day or on a birthday. Did I do something bad to deserve this? I know I am not that badly off though and there could be something way worse wrong with me. People all around the world have bigger problems, what about all the death recently, even in our own area. In a way I am lucky, I have a chance. But you see the problem with someone suffering with depression is that it is not visible or it may not be given as much notice as in comparison to say cancer or even something as small as a flu. For example for the past few weeks a lot of people I know got struck down with the flu and the whole parish was talking about it, ”God did you see poor Billy Bob, he’s dying with a flu”? I am not saying a flu is not bad, in fact there can be nothing worse sometimes. But what I am saying is depression can be a silent killer, as bad as the flu will get, it more than likely won’t kill you and will pass in a few days. So I just urge you all to keep an eye out for people close to you that may seem physically fine but might be just a little quiet lately, look a bit tired and just basically not themselves. If I was to help just one person by writing this blog, I would be a very happy man. I would take a flu now in exchange please!! Just to update you on Kiw’s whereabouts, he is on his mid-term holidays in Linda’s house. I miss my ‘Black Dog’ but wish I could only shift this other one that strayed in. On the Blackhall front, I didn’t attend training last night.
Depression, The Silent Killer
”I am sorry I put some things in my blog that you must wonder why or where I drag it from but they are stories that interest me and I feel they should be added. Please take time to enjoy. It is my love of sport”.
Away from my depression and all associated with it I would just like to share a success story that I have been following over the past few weeks. It brings a smile to my face, the story of Zambia’s victory in Sunday’s African Cup Of Nations game against strong favourites Ivory Coast. This remarkable story started many years ago…. It has inspired me, anything is possible.

After Tragedy, Zambia Triumphs

Nearly two decades ago, the tiny African nation of Gabon was the site of the darkest chapter in Zambian soccer history.
The finest team that Zambia had produced boarded a plane in the capital city of Libreville on its way to a 1994 World Cup qualifier. The plane took off before plunging into the sea, killing everyone on board and robbing a nation of its heroes.
Last Sunday, the current national team ensured that Gabon would play another role in the minds of every Zambian when it became the site of their greatest soccer triumph.
The Copper Bullets, as Zambia’s team is known, won their first Africa Cup of Nations title, 8-7 in a penalty-kick shootout over heavily favored Ivory Coast.
The preceding 120 minutes were scoreless, as the underdog Zambians traded blows with the Elephants. The pivotal moment came midway through the second half, when Didier Drogba, the Chelsea striker who is one of many European club stars on the Ivory Coast team, fired his penalty shot well over the bar.
The tension surrounding such an emotional game meant that each chance came at a premium, but at the end, it was Zambia that withstood the pressure.
To their countrymen, many of whom are deeply spiritual, the juxtaposition of past sorrow and present joy went a long way in healing old wounds.
“It’s a huge relief,” Benedict Tembo of the Zambia Daily Mail said in a telephone interview. “Finally, the 1993 victims can rest in peace knowing that, almost two decades after the crash, a generation of players put in their best throughout the tournament. That dream, that mission, was accomplished.”
Nineteen years ago, the current soccer federation president Kalusha Bwalya was one of the lucky ones. He was a star striker on the squad in 1993, but was playing club soccer in the Netherlands and avoided the fatal trip. It is his vision that shaped the present day team, one that pays homage to the spirit of those lost.
Bwalya echoed the message of the fans at the final that held a sign that read, “Honoring the 1993 Crash Heroes in Style.”
“We have given tribute to the class of 1993,” Bwalya said. “I’m absolutely certain that the boys are not far from the form that the 1993 players used to play. It’s wonderful for us to be able to come back and try to bring the memories of the 1993 team back on the field.”

Sorry I have strayed from the subject but if you want to read more please follow the link below:


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!!!

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.

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

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.
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



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.


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.


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.
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


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.


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

    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!!

    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!
    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’
    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.

    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

    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
    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.
    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

    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Depression, Blackhall Gaels & My Black Dog


    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!!