This week Dr Eddie Murphy writes about the bravery of the Cork hurler Conor Cusack who publicly revealed his battle with depression.
He recounted how his ”panic attacks were horrific experiences by day, by night they are even worse.” And that “something much larger, deeper, darker had taken hold of my mind and sadness, despair, hopelessness were not strong enough to survive alongside what I was feeling. They say something has to crack to allow the light in. At about 11am that morning, I finally cracked. I couldn’t do it anymore, all my strength at keeping up my pretence had gone. I curled up in the corner of the building and began to cry. One of the lads working with me came over and he didn’t know what to do. I asked him to take me home.”
Conor honesty about his struggles touched many individuals experiencing depression. Conor’s talked about how “Depression is difficult to explain to people. If you have experienced it there is no need, if you haven’t, I don’t think there are words adequate to describe its horror. It permeates every part of your being, from your head to your toes.
It is never ending, waves and waves of utter despair and hopelessness and fear and darkness flood throughout your whole body. You crave for peace but even sleep doesn’t afford that. It wrecks your dreams and turns your days into a living nightmare. It destroys your personality, your relationship with your family and friends, your work, your sporting life, it affects them all. Your ability to give and receive affection is gone. You tear at your skin and your hair with frustration. You cut yourself to give some form of physical expression to the incredible pain you feel. Conor noted “I had been contemplating suicide for a while now and when I finally decided and planned it out, a strange thing happened. A peace that I hadn’t experienced for a long time entered my mind and body. For the first time in years, I could get a good night’s sleep.
It was as if my body realized that this pain it was going through was about to end and it went into relax mode. It would solve everything, I thought. No more pain, both for me and my family. They were suffering as well as I was and I felt with me gone, it would make life easier for them. How wrong I would have been. I have seen the effects and damage suicide has on families. It is far, far greater than anything endured while living and helping a person with depression.
Conor described the start of his recovery.
“I believe depression is a message from a part of your being to tell you something in your life isn’t right and you need to look at it. It forced me to stop and seek within for answers and that is where they are. It encouraged me to look at my inner life and free myself from the things that were preventing me from expressing my full being. This is an ongoing process. I am still far from living a fully, authentic life but I am very comfortable now in my own skin. Once or twice a year, especially when I fall into old habits, my ‘friend’ pays me a visit. I don’t push him away or ignore him. I sit with him in a chair in a quiet room and allow him to come. I sit with the feeling. Sometimes I cry, other times I smile at how accurate his message is. He might stay for an hour, he might stay for a day. He gives his message and moves on.
He reminds me to stay true to myself and keep in touch with my real self. Many, many people are living lives of quiet misery. Depression affects all types of people, young and old, working and not working, wealthy and poor.
Conor’s Story of Hope
For those people who are currently gripped by depression, either experiencing it or are supporting or living with someone with it, I hope my story helps. There is no situation that is without hope, there is no person that can’t overcome their present difficulties. For those that are suffering silently, there is help out there and you are definitely not alone.
Everything you need to succeed is already within you and you have all the answers to your own issues. A good therapist will facilitate that process. My mother always says ‘a man’s courage is his greatest asset’. It is an act of courage and strength, not weakness, to admit you are struggling. It is an act of courage to seek help. It is an act of courage to face up to your problems.
An old saying goes ‘there is a safety in being hidden, but a tragedy never to be found’. You are too precious and important to your family, your friends, your community, to yourself, to stay hidden. In the history of the world and for the rest of time, there will never again be another you. You are a once off, completely unique.
The real you awaits within to be found but to get there requires a journey inwards . A boat is at its safest when it is in the harbour but that’s not what it was built to do. We are the same.
Your journey in will unearth buried truths and unspoken fears. A new strength will emerge to help you to head into the choppy waters of your painful past. Eventually you will discover a place of peace within yourself, a place that encourages you to head out into the world and live your life fully. The world will no longer be a frightening place to live in for you.
The most important thing is to take the first step. Please take it. Powerful words – Thank You Conor Cusack