'Thanks, listeners, for your care, love and for helping me to make my return'
BROADCASTER John Murray has opened up about his battle with depression and how it left him "gripped by dread" on a daily basis.
The RTE Radio One presenter returned to the airwaves yesterday for the first time since April.
Murray (49) thanked his listeners for their support and told of how they were the "secret weapon" to his recovery.
"I'm so grateful to everyone who took the trouble to write to me, send me Get Well Soon cards and Mass cards, those of you who rang, texted and emailed the show inquiring.
"All the people I've met over the last few months in Rathfarnham and Borris and elsewhere, thanks for making the tougher days a bit easier with your love and concern, and for helping me get back here this morning.
"We can renew our friendship now and have a bit of craic in the process."
Murray spoke about how the 'black dog' crept up on him earlier this year and the effect it had on him. "One day, I'm happily presenting this radio show and enjoying life. The next, I'm gripped by dread and anxiety, with the simplest task proving beyond me.
"As those with experience of it know, depression doesn't just drop in for a quick hello and run for the hills. At least my kind didn't.
"No, it took a fancy to me, decided to take up residence for a few months, and boy, did it make its presence felt."
The radio host also thanked his wife, Miriam, his "two great children" Stephen and Catherine, in-laws and family for their support, as well as RTE colleague Miriam O'Callaghan, who filled in for him while he was sick.
And he encouraged anyone going through a bout of depression or anxiety to speak up and share their feelings.
"I'm a little bit reluctant about giving advice to others who might find themselves depressed or anxious. Everyone is different. Don't be too hard on yourself.
"You haven't failed life's test; share your thoughts and feelings with others and don't suffer in silence. To anyone who knows anyone who's depressed – don't be afraid to contact them, they mightn't reply immediately, or at all, but, boy, will they appreciate that someone is thinking of them. I know I did," he said.
Rugby pundit Brent Pope commended Murray for speaking out yesterday. He also suffers from anxiety and told the Irish Independent that talking publicly about it was one of the hardest things he has ever done.
"Well done to John and I'm delighted for him, because I was concerned and the more we talk about it, the more normal it becomes.
"He's very brave and I applaud him," said Pope (50), who launched National Giving Week from the One Percent Difference Campaign in Dublin yesterday.