Living in Rural Ireland: How can you farm when you can’t think what day of the week it is?
Living in Rural Ireland series: One man’s struggle with bipolar depression
Michael was first hospitalised with depression after his wife found him sitting in a field.
It was the early 1980s and he’d had a few tough years on his farm in Co. Meath. There had been bad weather for two years and he was struggling to manage the farm.
“I remember the lead up to it, my concentration was gone. My ability to organise things was gone. On the farm, you are a one-man show, and I was having to spend more and more time doing things that should take no time.”
But his earliest memories that things were not right mentally went back to his early days in school.
Teachers thought he was lazy, but a good Leaving saw Michael going to study science at University.
“But I couldn’t understand when the exams came around that I was looking at the books and you’d think by osmosis that the information would go in and come up at you. But, I couldn’t take it in and failed the first year exams. I was devastated. In one of the exams I had to walk out, the stress of it and I couldn’t comprehend what was wrong. Later in life, when I got a diagnosis I found out why.”
He failed first year on a second attempt and went farming, but farming can be isolating and this did not help with his condition.
“My wife knew I could be moody, or sombre about things. But I was running a farm that was heavily borrowed and two wet years in a row, pushed the farm and me to the limit.