'I was just a mess... I couldn't do anything right' - Irish Harry Potter star Devon Murray opens up about 'suicidal thoughts'
Irish Harry Potter star Devon Murray has spoken candidly about his battle with depression and having suicidal thoughts during his lowest moments.
From the outside it would appear that the 27-year-old actor had lived a charmed life. By the age of 11 he was starring in one of the biggest movie franchises in the world, a role that would keep him employed until he was 22. And while Devon admits that he did have a "fantastic life", he was struggling with his own demons on the inside.
The Irish actor, who played Seamus Finnegan in Harry Potter, suffered with a decade-long battle with depression, but kept it a secret until recently, fearing that people wouldn't understand.
"I remember feeling very low on my 16th birthday," he told RTE 2fm's Eoghan McDermott.
"I was staying in a fantastic suite in a hotel in London. I'd celebrated my birthday the day before on set. My room was full of gifts and I should have been happy but I wasn't."
Devon said he didn't like being away from his father and school friends back home as work on Harry Potter forced him to stay in the UK for long periods of time. He knew that "something wasn't right" but from his 16th birthday his low moods increased.
It got especially bad when he was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy during filming for the fifth Harry Potter movie. The condition temporarily paralysed one side of his face for six months but it destroyed his confidence.
"I didn't want to leave the house. I didn't want people to see how I looked. I didn't want them to see how I felt," he said.
His self-confidence had plummeted to an all-time low. He didn't speak to friends and didn't reply to phone calls. People just assumed he was busy with his acting work but the reality was that he was hiding away in fear, ashamed of how bad he felt. He started taking care of horses. He'd initially purchased them to sell them on but he enjoyed taking care of them so much that he found it hard to part with them.
Devon spent his time in the stables from "morning until night", desperate for a distraction from his own feelings.
"I was just a mess, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. I had let down my parents. I couldn't do anything right," he said.
In April, Devon was forced to pay his former agent €260,000 in a high-profile court case, after his agent claimed Devon and his parents broke an agreement to pay them commission charges. The event pushed Devon even further into a feeling of helplessness.
The actor confessed to struggling with suicidal thoughts but one evening, while he was working away in the barn, he came close to acting out on his thoughts.
"I had a rope and threw it over one of the banisters in the barn and was pretty much getting ready to hang myself."
Thankfully, something in Devon's mind forced him to stop and, through tears, he sent his parents a text asking for help, something that he'd always been scared to do.
"I told them everything that I'd been feeling since I was 16," he said. "I didn't hold anything back."
I had suicidal thoughts this year and that was the kick up the arse that I needed! Open up, talk to people #worldmentalhealthday— Devon Murray (@DevonMMurray) October 10, 2016
The young star admits that opening up was one of the best things he could have done and, to his surprise, he discovered that his mother had also been struggling with depression. His friends were also supportive and the actor regrets that he didn't open up to them before.
"I completely regret not talking about it before. I wish I'd been open when I was 16. I'd have had a much better life."
For now, the actor is encouraging others to speak out and take their feelings seriously.
I'm so happy that from me opening up it helped so many of you find the strength to.We are all loved and cared about by those around us #talk— Devon Murray (@DevonMMurray) October 11, 2016
"For teenagers, it's just brushed off as puberty, for girls [they're told] 'it's 'just your hormones' and for men it's 'get over yourself'", he said as he expressed his desire for attitudes to change.
He took to Twitter on World Mental Health Day (October 10) to help raise awareness of mental health issues and share his experience. The actor says he's felt "so much better" having asked for help and speaking out about his mental health problems.
He also commented that "winter time is always the worst" in a response to a fan who praised him for speaking out.
He's now "in a good place" doing the things he once avoided, attending interviews and work events in an effort to improve his confidence and get him "out of his shell".
If any of the above issues affect you, you can contact the Samaritans on their 24-hour helpline on 116 123 (Republic of Ireland) or 08457 90 90 90 (from the UK)