'At 22 I was on suicide watch but there is light at the end of the tunnel' - London Irishman's story of hope and help

'At 22 I was on suicide watch but there is light at the end of the tunnel' - London Irishman's story of hope and help

OCTOBER is always a month of change - autumn days turn to colder winter nights and leaves desert trees. But for me it has different memories.

In October 2015 I moved to London to start a new chapter, while it was October 2013 that I gave up drinking for my health.

But it was October 2011 that was most life-changing.

At 22-years-old, I was in my GPs waiting room in Kilrush, Co. Clare, having attempted to take my life the week before.

I was on suicide watch.


All I could do was cry into my mother’s arms in despair.

Later that same day, I was admitted to a psychiatric ward in Ennis General Hospital where I would remain for five weeks.

I had started to emotionally breakdown a year previously - I had moved to Dublin after finishing my degree in the University of Limerick and found it tough to settle.

The move compounded my feelings, as sadness and despair passed through me for quite a while.

A fractured relationship with a family member meant I felt quite isolated, and I started to come home less and less.

After 22 years, I couldn’t take it anymore, and was at one of the lowest points of my life.

Unable to feel love or warmth, I was emotionally broken, severely depressed and crippled with anxiety.

In the following weeks, I came out of hospital more resilient, but still fragile.


After spending Christmas at my aunt’s house, seeing my mother and siblings and regrouping with friends, I set about finding work.

In the two years that followed, I worked for an insurance company, made new friends; many of whom I’m still close with today.

I also started attending counselling and a support group one evening a week, it was great to meet like-minded people who could relate to what I was going through.

With my confidence growing, I took to the skies last year and abseiled off Croke Park for Headstong, an Irish charity for mental health.

Moreover, in October last year, I made the biggest decision in my life to date: I accepted a work transfer and moved to London.

Admittedly there were and still are some days that can be struggles, and my biggest battles are social situations.

I am friendly, and shy in nature but a worrier and conscientious, and I can find it difficult to connect with others.

To counteract this, I deliberately put myself out of my comfort zone, and I persevere.

Light at the end of the tunnel

As the former Donegal GAA Football manager, Jim McGuinness said: ‘Everything that happens in your life, helps you to make what you are today; Your past is your future.’

Days like the above don’t happen everyday. I have come a long, long way.

I have a good degree, and building on my career. I’ve worked hard to get where I am.

I have a very supportive family and have great friends both here and in Ireland; most weekends we watch GAA and soccer, have nights out, play mixed netball and explore Britain.

This is only the beginning of my journey in London.

Five years ago, in the doctor’s waiting room in Kilrush I could never have pictured myself where I am now.

Could I have pictured myself in Croke Park watching Clare win the All-Ireland in 2013? No.

Could I have pictured seeing my sister graduate? I genuinely couldn’t.

If you are feeling down, things do get better. It’s not easy, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

I’m getting better everyday – yet I still have to be reminded of that sometimes.

The stigma that was once surrounding mental health is thankfully going and the notion that people can snap out of it is finally waning.

On World Mental Health Day, let’s go a step further - not feeling good emotionally is no different to having a broken arm or having the flu.

Don’t be ashamed to go to the doctor, confide to a friend or family member that things aren’t right.

If you know someone who is feeling down, make them feel loved. Show them you care.

I hope my story can show there is light at the end of the tunnel and everyone deserves to live life to the fullest.

As the Clare Hurling Captain Anthony Daly said: 'Live it, love it, embrace it.'

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