Saturday 25 November 2017

Paul Flynn: I've lost a friend to suicide. You can't just overcome every challenge on your own

Dublin Paul Flynn, left, speaks with Jonny Cooper after the game. Allianz Football League, Division 1, Final, Dublin v Cork. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Dublin Paul Flynn, left, speaks with Jonny Cooper after the game. Allianz Football League, Division 1, Final, Dublin v Cork. Croke Park, Dublin. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Dublin All Star forward Paul Flynn has urged those suffering from depression and anxiety to seek help because "no one can overcome all of life's challenges on their own".

Flynn, who won four All Stars in a row and has two All Ireland winning medals to his name, recently  made a big career move that sees him encouraging others off-the-pitch too.

"The demands on players are increasing," he told the Herald.

"It's a professional sport being played by amateurs and we have all got our own jobs and careers and college and things that we have to be able to balance with sport. It's a great opportunity, but it can be difficult at times, there's no doubt about that."

Asking for help, though, if things prove difficult, is something he is good at doing.

"If I have a low point, which I do, whether it be in sport or in life or business or whatever, I'll always ask people for help," he says. "I'm very good at that. Some people aren't, but I think it's important that we become better at it.

"I've lost a friend to suicide and I've been involved in Pieta House over the last number of years. I think it's important to have people around you that are going to look out for you - you can't just overcome every challenge on your own. Have a support system.

"In life we always come up against obstacles and it's important to be able to seek that help.

"Imagine you had a friend and they asked you for help. You'd only be delighted to help them along the way, and if you're uncomfortable to do that there are also support structures out there, professional services, like Pieta House or others of a similar nature that will help you in times like that."

Aside from seeking help, Flynn urges people to look out for one another.

His other advice for young adults making a life for themselves is to take on a challenge and get out of your comfort zone, career-wise.

"I'm 28 years of age. I've seen a number of changes in my career so far," he says.

"It's quite easy when you're in a job - you're comfortable to just go in and go out and you're not really looking for that next challenge.

"Don't just stay and rest in that comfort zone - look for that

next challenge and pursue the next big move".

In terms of a work-life balance, Flynn encourages people to stay fit and says that being part of a team is what works for him.

"People will always nearly try and put barriers in the way of exercise," he says, "but it's just about finding the time, picking the time in the day and saying, 'Look, I'm going to do exercise now whether it be six o'clock in the morning or six o'clock in the evening'.

"It's important to say, 'Right, that's the time I've allocated to doing whatever and I'm going to do it'. That's why I love team sports because it's a lot easier - you can't not go training, you'd be letting down the rest of the team, so it makes it that bit easier."


Flynn believes he has several years left in a Dublin jersey.

"My trajectory isn't going to keep going up for the next five years, unfortunately, because I'm getting older," he says.

"However, I just want to keep maintaining my fitness, stay at a high level of performance and do the best I can for Dublin and the GAA and succeed on the field.

"You could get to 32, 33 realistically, so probably another three, fours years left playing," he added.

Sporting prowess and career goals aside, the simple things are what matter most to him.

"I've got a girlfriend, she plays league football with Dublin as well, so it's important that when we do get time we go out and socialise and eat in nice restaurants and stuff," says Flynn.

"Also, any opportunity I get to go out and play golf, I love to do that too. I think that's a great way to get away from everything.

"Other than that, it's just about being around your friends and family, catching up with them, the simple things in life.

"It's nothing too exciting, but it is important."

Read more: Dublin's treble heaven as Cork implode again


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