Sunday 25 February 2018

Eoghan McDermott plans 'bucket list' with his sick friend

After a dark period of self-harm, the RTE star has been inspired by his pal and is determined to look at the bigger picture, writes Niamh Horan

BEHIND THE MIC: Niamh Horan with Eoghan McDermott, broadcaster and co-host of ‘The Voice’. Photo: David Conachy
BEHIND THE MIC: Niamh Horan with Eoghan McDermott, broadcaster and co-host of ‘The Voice’. Photo: David Conachy
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Broadcaster Eoghan McDermott will complete a bucket list with his best friend, who has a life-limiting illness.

The 33-year-old RTE star told the Sunday Independent of his devastation at hearing the news but he said he is determined to join in the fun - which will include jumping out of a plane and travelling the world on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with his friend.

Eoghan said: "He knows how many years he has and that's a recent enough development, so he has a bucket list. He is younger than me and it was devastating to find out about but inspiring at the same time."

The 2fm presenter explained: "He has focused his time and his ambitions and he has this checklist of stuff he wants to do, so I guess we are going to start ticking that off. If I can go along for the ride, I will, absolutely. It's mostly travel and places in the world he wants to go."

Explaining the epic challenge ahead for the pair, he said: "One of the funnier ones is to go to a zero gravity camp in Florida, Tokyo, just because of the mayhem of it all; skydive, some of the obvious cliched things."

Describing the affect the realisation has had on him, he said: "It has only happened in the last year. I used to be so work-focused - in terms of the way I benchmarked success - and now I feel [success] is a lot more personal. I've just learned that you need to appreciate your family and your friends and your health. It sounds very cliched, but I guess every one goes through that same realisation at some time. I feel like it's a gift - in that it's not my burden - but it still has enabled me to have had the realisation."

The Dublin broadcaster has had his own problems in the past - engaging in self-harm when a relationship broke down a few years ago. At 26, he was living in Ringsend, when he found himself in his bedroom one night, cutting his arm to deal with the pain of the break-up. The self-harm continued for six months.

"I guess if you were around your family, they would notice your mood or that you are withdrawing from activities but it was easy to hide [as I was] living with strangers who didn't know my routine."

Describing it as akin to "overcharging an appliance that pops a fuse", he said: "I cut my upper arms, which made it easier to hide. It was like a momentary release from the turmoil.

"You focus on the physical and it's a release from another pain. I never found it enjoyable. I would feel like sh*t afterwards and then I would just sit there in silence for a while and kind of just recalibrate my thoughts, and then I would just go and wash myself off and pat myself down and put on a Band-Aid - it was pretty grim."

Once he spoke about the problem, Eoghan realised he could take control. His advice to someone going through similar upheaval? People need to take small, every-day steps to get on the road to recovery.

"When you are in the eye of the storm, short-term distractions are your friend: if you play music, even if you don't feel like playing, do; if you are invited out, even if you don't feel like going, do. It's the normal every-day things. It will be fine, and you can start making it fine immediately. Proactiveness from you will make things better in time and you can accelerate that process with really easy, small, digestible steps.

"Unfortunately, sometimes people think 'I am in a huge rut, therefore I need a huge solution' but it is just lots of small solutions."

He adds: "I was at Funderland at Christmas, queuing for the roller coaster and I saw this girl who was 13 or 14.

"Her arm was cut to shreds, but it was in the healing stage of it, and I just wanted to go up to her and give her a hug ... and tell her that it would be fine, or that she should talk to someone."

Recently split from his girlfriend of two years, model Jo Archbold, the presenter is feeling philosophical.

"We were together for two years, and I guess with anyone you go into it in good faith, and it's either going to be 'the' relationship or it's not - and it wasn't."

Asked if he feared the split might return him to his dark days, he said: "I don't want it to seem like every relationship I have, that maybe [the fact] it isn't 'the one', is going to lead to some massive crisis.

"When [the self-harm] happened, it was at a time when I had my first serious relationship where I thought it might be 'the one' and it turned out not to be but I would go into relationships now a lot more self aware."

Eoghan was at the launch of Liberty Insurance Car N' Other Stuff campai gn, which offers add on options for gadgets, travel and renters - geared towards millennials.

Sunday Independent

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