Friday 24 November 2017

Lenihan's son reveals how he turned to alcohol during battle with depression

Student also tells of dad's tears over Budget cuts

Tom Lenihan with his late father Brian in 2011
Tom Lenihan with his late father Brian in 2011
Tom Lenihan is facing a battle to hold on to his job
Garreth Murphy

By Garreth Murphy

BRIAN Lenihan's son has revealed that he found his father crying at the kitchen table over cuts he was forced to make.

Tom Lenihan (21) spoke candidly about his father's difficulty in making harsh decisions regarding Budget cuts.

"He would have shed tears over people facing cuts," Lenihan revealed.

"He found it hard to balance things that are just impossible moral choices.

"I would have said: 'What do you think is in the national interest, I suppose. How do you make it as fair as possible? How do you balance the supposed best course of action with the problems at the time?"

The president of Trinity College Students' Union spoke about his own struggles with depression. He revealed that he struggled with alcohol in college and had suicidal thoughts.

"I was drinking a lot and that followed me through college," he told Ryan Tubridy on RTE 2fm.

"I would have missed a lot of days of class through my own not looking after myself. I would have drank alone a lot. Just wherever I could get alcohol."

His problems culminated when he was caught cheating in a third-year exam. In May, he admitted to bringing a note into a law exam.


"When I sat my exams, I was not prepared for them. I was drinking a bit. I was pulling all-nighters – which I had never really done before. I wasn't on my medication. I don't think I was myself.

"When it came down to it, I cheated in an exam and I was caught. I had a note in my pocket and I brought it out and I was caught. It was a very stupid thing to do. I knew straight away I was in trouble. It was a wake-up call that I needed to take better care of myself."

Speaking about the origins of his depression, Lenihan said: "I suppose I would have felt very dark thoughts around 13, I didn't know where they were coming from or what was happening. I only admitted to my parents that I had depression when I was 16 or 17.

"I think that was the hardest thing I ever had to do was tell my parents as I felt had let them down."

Lenihan also revealed that he doesn't support Fianna Fail and only voted for his father in elections.

"I voted for my dad and I didn't vote for anyone else. I cannot reconcile my views with Fianna Fail.

"Why? Some of the stances that they take on issues. The last one would have been abortion. I find that they are a very conservative party that tend to care for the middle-aged and the middle class rather than looking outwardly at our future. In terms of investing in education, you know.

"A lot of people are very dependent on grants and if that is cut in the Budget again that is gonna have a huge impact. Student retention is part of my role in the union, but there is only so much we do."

Lenihan also revealed that he did not want his father to resign – even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

"No, I didn't. I think he would have been frustrated at home. I think he saw meaning in the job. I had to balance national politics and the national interests with my own personal struggles.

"I would have felt guilty if he resigned because of me. At the same time, I wanted my dad to die peacefully and I wanted to create as little tension as I could regarding my own demons. I wanted to try and be there for my dad."

Lenihan also said that he had no desire to follow his father into politics, despite winning election as the president of Trinity College Students' Union.

"I wrote off national politics because you have to make so much compromise in your beliefs. I'd love to be a filmmaker. I've had a passion for films since I was about 15. My dad was quite sceptical but when he saw how passionate I was about it, he said go for it."


Irish Independent

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