Wednesday 7 December 2016

'My life was nearly taken' - Hurling All Star winner opens up about battle with depression

Published 07/11/2015 | 12:53

Maurice Shanahan, Waterford, with his GAA GPA All-Star Award at the GAA GPA All-Star Awards 2015 Sponsored by Opel. Convention Centre, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE
Maurice Shanahan, Waterford, with his GAA GPA All-Star Award at the GAA GPA All-Star Awards 2015 Sponsored by Opel. Convention Centre, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Waterford hurler Maurice Shanahan has spoken of his battle with depression and how his family, friends and team-mates helped him fight back to win a 2015 All Star award.

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Shanahan picked up his first hurling All Star last night in the Convention Centre but there was a time last year when he thought that it would never be possible as he spiralled into a bout of depression. 

“Tonight is a special night for all the lads who got nominated and all the lads who are getting All-Stars, but it is probably an extra special night for me because of the road I came through to get here,” he told RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime program yesterday.

“Last year was a bad year for me, but thankfully I am here today to tell that tale. I am here today because of my Waterford team-mates and my club Lismore, because of my family, my friends and my girlfriend. They got me through the bad times.

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“I was suffering from depression, big time. It got on top of me and I couldn’t take any more of it. I started to lock myself into rooms after work. I’d go to work and when I came home, I’d lock myself into a room. I didn’t want to go out. I didn’t want to go to the hurling field. I didn’t want to do anything, I just wanted to lock myself away from it.

Waterford's Maurice Shanahan, Waterford, in action against Kilkenny's Joey Holden, Shane Prendergast and Paul Murphy in Croke Park. Murphy adopted the sweeper role during the All-Ireland semi-final victory
Waterford's Maurice Shanahan, Waterford, in action against Kilkenny's Joey Holden, Shane Prendergast and Paul Murphy in Croke Park. Murphy adopted the sweeper role during the All-Ireland semi-final victory

“I suffered for around two months before the help was given to me because my life was nearly taken. Only for that help… I knew them people were out there, but I never thought them people would understand my situation at the time. But thankfully they did.”

As is the case with so many incidents of people suffering from the illness, Shanahan turned to those closest to him for support.

"The manager of the Lismore team at the time was Sean Prendergast. He is the local primary school principal below in Lismore and I could hear the bell ringing every day telling me school was finished. The minute the bell was after ringing, Sean was at my house trying to get me out, trying to get me back up to the field. For a while that didn’t work.

“Derek McGrath too was very good to me. I met Derek last Christmas and I wasn’t even going back playing hurling. ‘We won’t make any rushed decisions tonight’, he said. He said he would give me time to think about it and I said that was grand. I had no interest then, but the interest gradually came back.”

Shanahan also cited the pressure of maintaining a high standard with Waterford took its toll.

“Sometimes it doesn’t hurt, but other times it does hurt. At times it gets on top of you and you’d be thinking why you bothered playing because of that, the pressure that other people put on you.

“It doesn’t matter if you play sport or not, whoever is going through a bad time, the one bit of advice I would give them is to always talk to someone. You can’t bottle it up inside because if you do, it could get the better of you. Just pick up the phone and tell a friend, tell anyone. Just talk.”

If you have been affected by any issues raised in this article, please contact The Samaritans free helpline on 116 123.

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