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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Bressie introduces his depression - his mate Jeffrey

Lots of people have a black dog.

WHEN MY LEGS went from underneath me and my breath stopped coming, just minutes before we were due to go live on The Voice, I knew this was panic at its worst. Yet in the midst of the madness, something became clear. If I got through this, the secret I had guarded for years with all my life could not remain secret for much longer.

After experiencing a terrifying panic attack just before he was due to appear on live TV, Bressie knew he couldn’t hide the truth about his mental health issues any longer.

Later that night, Jeffrey was born.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie Bressie explains how humanising his depression or ‘black dog’ has helped him:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Video: Aoife Barry/Órla Ryan

When he was a teenager he went through a period where he suffered from daily panic attacks – one came on pretty much every time he lied down. As a result he suffered from insomnia and his hair started to fall out. He told no one what was going on.

At the age of 16 he intentionally broke his own arm.

Here, Bressie talks about why he did what he did and the “very misunderstood issue” that is self-harm. He also discusses his younger self’s fears about being sent to a mental institution.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Video: Aoife Barry/Órla Ryan

Bressie admits there is now, thankfully, less stigma around discussing mental health due to the work of several initiatives.

‘I wasn’t an ignorant bastard’

The 34-year-old previously played football with Westmeath and rugby with Leinster. He found musical fame as frontman of The Blizzards and a solo singer before working on The Voice.

On paper – like a lot of people – he had no ‘reason’ to feel depressed, but – like a lot of people – he did.

In his book, Me and My Mate Jeffrey, he speaks candidly about how his secret battle with his mental health eroded away relationships, such as those with his bandmates.

A lot of bridges have been mended since he opened up.

In the last couple of years, I’ve had so many friends coming to me going ‘Ah, now it makes sense’. And I’m like ‘No, I wasn’t just an ignorant bastard who kind of kept to himself and, as my mates would say, is wired differently’. My behaviour started making sense to a lot of people and no more so than the band.

The Blizzards went on hiatus in 2009, but are back in the recording studio working on new material.

Bressie has used a number of methods to help regain control over his anxiety and depression in recent years, including cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise and medication. He set up My 1,000 Hours to help people look after their mental health.

We’ll have more from our interview with Bressie over the weekend.

Read: ‘Never mind play rugby, some days I couldn’t even get out of my bed’

Read: ‘Just by being there for a friend, we can keep life itself’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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