Saturday 10 December 2016

Camogie All-Star Ashling Thompson on her depression battle: 'I lost myself to someone I wasn't'

Published 07/10/2015 | 19:28

Ashling Thompson
Ashling Thompson
Cork captain Ashling Thompson celebrates with the O’Duffy cup

Cork camogie captain Ashling Thompson reveals how a bout of depression after an accident nearly ruined her life.

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The 24-year-old is an ardent campaigner for mental health, having suffered with her own demons in her late teens.

To coincide with World Mental Health Day this Saturday, Ashling told her story to HotPress magazine, and spoke to Anton Savage on Today FM about the most difficult time of her life.

She traces her depression back to a debilitating carcrash which occurred in 2009.

Cork captain Ashling Thompson lifts the O'Duffy cup
Cork captain Ashling Thompson lifts the O'Duffy cup
'Ashling Thompson's freely told story of her battle with depression is inspiring and needs to find as wide an audience as possible'

"It happened just outside my house. I was stationary, it was on the main Killarney road, I was waiting for the car to pass, a car came from behind me and didn't see me and hit me.  I was knocked unconscious straight away."

"I had a lot of muscle damage to my back and neck which took three years to recover from.

Cork captain Ashling Thompson celebrates with the O’Duffy cup
Cork captain Ashling Thompson celebrates with the O’Duffy cup

"I had just finished my Leaving Cert and was in my first year of college. I was still playing and camogie was a part of my life."

"I had never been injured before. It's extremely difficult as your sport is like a full time job, your hobby, your past time. It was a devastating blow."

Ashling Thompson has become a crucial part of Cork’s camogie team
Ashling Thompson has become a crucial part of Cork’s camogie team

Ashling reveals that the new abundance of free time came as a shock to her, and she used that time "very badly".

"I got involved with the wrong kind of people and went down a really bad path."

Ashling Thompson of Cork
Ashling Thompson of Cork
Cork's Ashling Thompson is eager to make the most of the second chance in today's senior Camogie semi-final against Wexford today. SPORTSFILE

"I wasn't accepting at all.  I lost a tremendous amount of weight. Sleepless nights, nightmares.

"I lost myself to someone who I wasn't. I became really angry. I got into a lot of physical altercations with people."

Ashling added that she was oblivious to those who were trying to help her.

“You don’t see depression, it’s very hard to come to terms with it when you are 19 years of age,” she explained. “I blocked everyone else and felt no one could help me.”

"I did stupid things that I can't talk about and mention. Locally, I didn't care what people thought so I did what I want and had no regrets."

A turning point in her life came in 2012, when her ex-partner committed suicide.

"I was at rock bottom. I was going one way or another, I was completely destroyed as a person. I felt like a ghost walking around."

"It led me to make a final decision, whether I was going to go down the right one or destroy my life and have my mother and family bury me.

"We had a mentor and coach that came in, Frank Flannery, it was the first time I had really bought into someone. He was an outsider, and sometimes it takes an outsider to come in and throw you a few home truths. He said if I ever need him, that I could call him and he could help me as he was fighting his own demons in the past.

"I do get dark days where I feel a small bit lonely or a small bit blank, but I don't think I'll ever go back into that place.

Offering advice to anyone in a similar circumstance, Ashling implored them to "open their eyes" and be wary of the company they are keeping.

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