Wednesday 21 February 2018

A secret life out of the limelight

Full of life, looking ahead and making plans, but within hours things took a turn, writes Niamh Horan

Cathriona White
Cathriona White
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Cathriona White was part of a generation who live online. She gave the world insights into what she ate, the clothes she wore, the books she read and how she spent her time.

She was a healthy eater, obsessed with improving herself inside and out. She had quit sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol and caffeine. She meditated and was into the gym and fitness.

A deep thinker, she read Joyce's Ulysses and the poetry of Yeats. A girl like any other of her generation; except that she wasn't. She was in a relationship with one of Hollywood's biggest stars. In a world where the mantra is (show me) 'pics or it didn't happen', White took a different approach towards her time spent with movie star Jim Carrey.

Perhaps she felt it was one side of her life too precious to share with the rest of the world.

The pair had begun dating in 2012, before splitting and reuniting last May.

A giant bunch of red roses and a photograph of a private jet provided some of the first hints that the pair were back together. It was a world away from her childhood growing up in the small village of Cappawhite, Co Tipperary.

While most girls her age were posing side by side with their boyfriends and posting pictures of it online, Cathriona kept her love life out of shot.

Whether it was difficult to keep such an important part of her life hidden is unknown but Cathriona had a secret life. Their romantic weekend together in New York hinted that she was about to take to the skies in a helicopter. She said she was excited about her adventure but gave no hint of whom she was with. For his part, Carrey was more forward about their relationship.

He led her out by the hand in front of the world's paparazzi. He proudly wore a GAA hurling jersey from her home county, smiling for the world's media. In August, the pair took a trip together to a scenic lake. The actor posted a picture swimming in the middle of the giant loch with the caption: "This is who I really am." Perhaps he felt at ease with Cathriona, away from the madness of Hollywood.

On the same weekend, he posted another picture, crediting his girlfriend. The message read: "I don't decide when the sun will shine but I know it will never shine without me."

On July 21, they spent time together at Casa Elar Inn, Ojai Valley, a $10,000-per-night five-star gated estate. Its key selling point is privacy.

Although there was a 25-year age gap between the pair, he is 53 and she was 28, they bonded. They sat among the lemon and plum trees, a haven away from the world of cameras that haunt the actor's every public move.

While most people only post happy moments, Cathriona was more forthcoming about her darker times.

Her life seemed to swing dramatically from moments of unhappiness in solitude to moments of elation during her time with Carrey.

Within a week of posting a theatrical unhappy face and telling the world she was having a "sad day", she was on a nature retreat with the actor to Canada, saying she was in "one of the most beautiful places on earth". She posted love hearts and described their time together as "bliss".

Again, Carrey wasn't in the pictures, only a pair of men's boots. Although working as a hair and make-up artist, she was living in a home worth more than a million dollars and driving an €80,000 luxury black Lexus RX350.

Her picturesque lifestyle is sometimes commented upon by followers: "Therein lies the dream," one online user posts.

It is no surprise then that, in the days after her death, a desperate media banged on doors of neighbours in LA who had barely spoken to her and visited locals in her hometown in Cappawhite, whom she hadn't seen in years, to try and find out why such a beautiful young girl, with the world at her feet, would apparently take her own life.

What we do know is that, up to 48 hours before she took an overdose of pills, Cathriona had been planning to live.

Two days beforehand, she had posted a picture of herself in lingerie with plans to get fit.

What happened to change her psyche is unknown but within less than two hours she had descended into black, quoting Yeats' The Land of Heart's Desire: "Faeries, come take me out of this dull world."

Media have stated that Carrey had broken off the relationship for a second time.

Around the same time, she had marked the anniversary of her father's death, whom she described as her "hero".

In her final post, she told her followers she was "Signing off Twitter" saying: "I hope I have been a light to my nearest and dearest."

Psychologists have often commented that death by pills is usually a cry for help. If her final public post was meant to alert close friends, it wasn't seen until it was too late.

In the weeks before her death, she had gone through the pain of getting a tattoo behind her ear removed. She had to endure the agonising treatment every six weeks to achieve the desired result.

In a message alongside a snapshot of her most recent visit she wrote: "Something that is permanent… always think about it."

This weekend her family have travelled to the United States to bring her body home.

Sunday Independent

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