My way out of the dark wood
In the mid-eighties Eoghan Harris suffered a panic attack which heralded a battle against manic-depression. Here he tells how he won that battle and tackled the silence surrounding mental illness
'IN the middle of my life I went into a dark wood," says Dante in the Inferno. Early middle age is when we mostly experience what was once called a nervous breakdown. What follows is a flat account of my own experience. It has a happy ending – I have not had a bad depression for the past 20 years – but it came after considerable effort.
In 1984 I was writing plays but drinking heavily. One day, buying a tie in Michael Barrie's of Duke Street, I suffered what I thought was a heart attack. It turned out to be a bad panic attack, the first of many.
Because I was writing a play about West Cork Methodists I picked up the name of Professor Norman Moore of TCD, a Methodist, a professor of psychiatry, and a man both old and wise. Both his diagnosis and prognosis proved to be correct in every detail.