Saturday 21 April 2018

'I struggled with anxiety from age 13,' reveals Brent

Brent Pope at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit. Photo: Frank McGrath
Brent Pope at the Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ann Marie Ireland, Chill-Out Ireland Photo: Frank McGrath
Fiona Dillon

Fiona Dillon

Rugby pundit Brent Pope has opened up about the crippling anxiety he has battled in his life - which began when he was just 13 years old.

He was speaking at a major Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit attended by hundreds of delegates at the Aviva Stadium.

The one-day event brought together organisations including the Defence Forces, the Garda, and the HSE, along with the public and students, to learn about managing mental health.

In a moving address, Pope told how his body had served him well all his life. "I have been a good sportsman, I always excelled physically. It's just that my mind didn't follow. I never really understood until I got into my 40s, until I sought the right help," he said.

When Pope was around 13, he was getting into a bath on a Sunday night. "There is just a barrage or a 'Gatling gun' of negative thoughts coming to mind," he recalled.

Eventually, he ended up getting the help that he needed, and he shared his story to encourage other people to also seek help if they need it.

Majella O'Donnell, wife of singer Daniel, took part in a panel discussion. "As lots of people know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, and I shaved my head on 'The Late Late Show' to raise awareness and money for the Irish Cancer Society. I have also battled depression for most of my life. I think I had my first bout of bad depression when I was 19, but I wasn't really diagnosed until I was 36," she said.

"When I got cancer, I thought: 'Oh my God, how is this going to impact my mental health? Am I going to go into a deep, dark place?' But surprisingly I didn't.

"Having dealt with all that, the cancer, mental health, it's made me a much stronger person today, a more relaxed and laid-back person."

Irish Independent

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