Alan O'Mara shares his personal insight on dealing with depression

Former Cavan footballer speaks to Off The Ball

BY Raf Diallo 20:51 Tuesday 20 December 2016, 20:51 20 Dec 2016

Alan O'Mara ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

In September, former Cavan footballer Alan O'Mara published a book called The Best is Yet to Come.

A personal story, it explains how he dealt with depression, something he first bravely spoke about publicly in 2013.

"It's about encountering depression for the first time and for me trying to ignore it, fight it and resist it," he told Off The Ball.

"It's also about how I had to embrace the dark cloud over my head and learn to look for answers from within, rather than seeking a quick fix in the form of football, work, a relationship, alcohol or medication. It's about the highs and lows of life and the endless wonderance of a depressed mind as it tries to decide whether continuing the fight or giving up."

Explaining that there can be a yearning for a "lift the cup moment" when first dealing with depression, O'Mara also spoke about periods of wellness and when severe depression then returns.

Alan O'Mara ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

"The first time I shook it off and got a period of wellness, when it came back it completely knocked the stuffing out of me, and I'd be on the floor. I would have got angry, I would have got resentful, I would have said 'Why me?'" he said.

"The things that got me well initially are the things that keep me well and that's one of the big things that I learned."

He also spoke about the role of sport in his life back in 2011 and how Gaelic football "papered over the cracks".

"Football was my life. I let it define who I was as a person. When things were going well, I was OK. And when they weren't, I was generally quite rocky. My relationship with the game changed quite fast and it's a warning signal. Someone will always say about someone going through a difficult time that they lose interest in a hobby or something that they're passionate about. And my did. It changed very quickly," he said.   

He remembers a challenge match in college when he got an "overwhelming urge to cry" and felt detached from the game that was unfolding around him.

"The first real low I hit was just around the corner. I was driving home after that moment and I'm trying to make sense of it all. 

"I suppose a little ping just popped in and I thought 'if you just crash your car into the wall here, you don't have to listen to this conversation anymore'. At that time, it seemed like such a logical and rational solution and that's the thing with depression. It takes away all rationale. You don't think about anything afterwards. You're just thinking I don't want to feel this way now."

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