A HURLER whose blog about his battle with depression went viral on the Internet said he was “truly humbled” by the huge number of people who contacted him and are now speaking out about their problems.
Conor Cusack (34) said he “never in a million years” would have anticipated the enormous reaction to the blog he posted on the Internet on October 28.
Since then, the engineer has been deluged with messages of support, invitations to events, requests for interviews and even TV appearances.
Once such event was hosted this evening at University College Cork where Conor spoke to students about his battle with depression.
“The phone has been hopping for the month and I’ve had loads of messages on Twitter and e-mail. I made the decision to talk publicly about it because I think it is absolutely vital that people with depression know that there is help available out there,” he said.
“I guessed the blog would attract a bit of attention…because I am a hurler and all that. But what I didn’t expect was the incredible number of young people that contacted me. They were really open about their feelings and emotions,” he said.
The Cork and Cloyne hurler spoke at University College Cork (UCC) last night and the event had to be moved to a bigger auditorium to cope with the huge demand for tickets.
There still wasn’t sufficient space and UCC decided to stream the talk live on the Internet in a bid to ensure it reached the widest possible audience.
Conor, the younger brother of Cork All-Ireland winning goalkeeper, Donal Og Cusack, again renewed his plea for anyone suffering from depression to urgently seek help.
“It is about two things – it is about realising you are not alone and it is about taking the first step in seeking help. It takes courage but it is the first step on the road to recovery,” he said.
Mr Cusack said Ireland has long moved past the time when depression was something people, especially men, didn’t talk publicly about.
“Depression is a hidden epidemic in Ireland. I don’t think there is a single household or family in the country that hasn’t been affected by it. The help is there but people have to take the first step and ask for help.”
The GAA star said he was deeply moved by how people identified with his description of what it was like to suffer with depression.
“I’ve had bad sports injuries - knee injuries, a hand broken in three places and a busted mouth. But there was nothing like the pain of depression. It was a horrible, horrible place to be. But, thanks to my friends, my family and my club, I made the right choices and looked for help.”
Conor said his recovery was massively boosted by the staunch support of his parents, Dan and Bonnie, and siblings, Donal, Victor and Treasa was vital as was the constant backing of his Cloyne GAA club.
He pays moving tribute to his mother who opted not to go to Mass one evening and to stay in with him.
That was the very evening that he had been mulling over the thought of self-harm.
“It takes bravery, courage and guts to take that first step and admit you have a problem and need help. But that is the crucial part…that and realising you are not alone.”
Conor’s article came in the wake of the tragic death of Galway senior hurler, Niall Donoghue, just days before his 23rd birthday.
“If just one person decides to seek help after reading about my story then it was all worth it,” Conor added.