Local hockey star tells story to raise mental health awareness

Paul in action for Ireland.
Paul in action for Ireland.

Lisnagarvey Hockey star Paul Gleghorne has opened up about his own experiences dealing with mental health and the impact it has had on his life.

The Irish international posted on his blog about his history of mental health issues, which he says if it can be of help to even one person then it is worth sharing.

Paul said: “Following on from the “success” of World League 3 in Antwerp and European Championships in London the profile of the Ireland Men’s Hockey Team has been raised in recent months.

“I was asked if I would use this increased profile to write something to try and raise awareness for mental health.

“I have personally struggled with mental health issues for most of my life, however, I only sought professional help for it for the first time in January 2014.

“I debated long and hard about whether or not I would write something and share it when first asked. I weighed up the pros and cons and to be honest, there were a lot of cons and only one real pro. The pro was that someone (anyone) might read it, identify with it and it would encourage them to get help.

“In my opinion, to help even one person outweighed all the cons, so I decided to do it.

“I first started feeling unwell when I was eight years old. I didn’t really understand the feelings I had at the time as I wasn’t fully aware of what was “normal” and what wasn’t.

“Then when I reached my early teens, I knew the way I felt wasn’t right but I was too scared to say anything to anyone.

“Despite having a network of close friends and a loving family around me, I just couldn’t bring myself to speak to anyone about it.

“One of the biggest things I struggled with was the fact that I didn’t know why I felt the way I did. I knew that I was very fortunate and that I had a lot of positives in my life.

“My conclusion at the time was that it was because I was “weak” and I was unable to cope with things that “normal” people could cope with easily. This made me even more afraid to talk to anyone about what was going on.

“Since seeking professional help in January 2014, I have been diagnosed with a number of anxiety and depression disorders which goes some way to explaining why I felt the way I did and the way I do right now.

“At fourteen years old insomnia, self-harm and suicidal thoughts were now just a part of my life.

“I got better and better at hiding how I felt. I am so fortunate to have had such a close family and group of friends around me, that were helping me get through each day even though they didn’t realise it.

“My thoughts of self-harm and suicide seemed to have gotten progressively worse and worse since childhood. In my head it was just going to keep getting worse.

“One day, I had enough and I decided I was finally going to end the pain.

“I went to visit the cemetery where my mother (who passed away when I was 16) was buried. As I looked at my mother’s grave it brought back memories of how hard she battled against cancer, how she just refused to give up.

“With tears in my eyes, I decided that I wasn’t going to give up either. I went home and sent myself an email to remind me to make an appointment with my doctor the next morning. I view that moment as the defining moment in my life (so far).

“I went to my Doctor in January 2014. At 26 years old I finally went for help for something I had struggled with since I was a child. This was the first step in getting help and I was referred for appropriate treatment.

“A few months later I told my family and some close friends...telling them was the best thing I have ever done.

“To date, I am continuing with treatment, and I am realistic that given the length of time I felt the way I did, that I still have a lot of treatment to go.

“However, even after this relatively short period, I am starting to see some benefits already. I want to reassure that anyone reading this who feels they may be suffering from any type of mental illness, you are not alone.

“You can get help, it’s not always easy but it will be worth it.”

• If you would like to read Paul’s full blog, visit www.pitchero.com/clubs/lisnagarveyhockeyclub/news/paul-gleghornes-article-on-mental-health-awareness-1512440.html