78. Col Pat­ter­son Vinyl­heads

Hot Press - - 100 Voices On Mental Health -

At home, they used to call me “The Onion”. So many lay­ers, but never al­low­ing any­body into the core. “If peo­ple see it, I’m done for, de­stroyed .... If they see what I’m re­ally like in­side...”. I used to think it so cruel that I’d have to run out of my favourite ge­og­ra­phy class in school, heart ex­plod­ing, body trem­bling, feel­ing like I’m about to die over and over again.

I re­mem­ber it fol­low­ing me to church and hav­ing all those guilt bat­tles with God: “I’m sorry God, I know I prob­a­bly de­serve this, what­ever this is. But I can’t go in there, it’s too damn scary. I’ll stand at the door on my own and sure that’s shame enough. Peo­ple know my folks well and word will get back and all that.”

I re­mem­ber Maynooth Uni­ver­sity with mixed feel­ings. “Hello Mr In­door Panic – meet my lit­tle friend, Mr Out­door Panic! I know I de­serve this, it must be for miss­ing mass or hav­ing feel­ings for some young wan.” I re­mem­ber two heroes of flat­mates drag­ging me into the exam for Greek and Ro­man Civ­i­liza­tion… I passed it some­how.

The shame of telling my hard-work­ing dad that I couldn’t face col­lege any­more, ex­cept when I soaked my­self in drink – I could talk and be silly with drink. I left Maynooth, then did night jobs. Then I tried col­lege again, and left again. And on it went.

I met the beau­ti­ful man Dr Odhran McCarthy at the Mater in 1999. I found my­self nod­ding my head to all the ques­tions he asked. Panic… So­cial Anx­i­ety .... You won’t die... You’re a good guy... friendly

Col. I met some like-minded peo­ple... Step­ping stones. I got into the pub­lic ser­vice. Peo­ple were warm, kind. Hunky­dory.

I was un­lucky to be a vic­tim of a ran­dom one-punch at­tack a few years later. Wrong place, wrong time. I was back to square one. I had out­door panic now with added para­noia for free. I had to let my se­cure job go even­tu­ally as the de­pres­sion kicked in – the world of meds .... The shame of mov­ing back to the folks’ house... Cur­tains closed. I can’t go on! Thanks for find­ing me in time that day sis.

There was no es­cap­ing the men­tal prison. My only con­stant through­out it all was my pi­ano – it let me ex­press some of what I was feel­ing. There was some talk ther­apy. My cousins (The Vinyl­heads) en­cour­aged me to jam at home with them and then record. God bless them all. Bless the ra­dio DJs and the crit­ics who were be­yond kind and help­ful, and my lov­ing fam­ily and friends.

I don’t feel able to play live yet, but I think I’ll al­ways write tunes now while work­ing through it all. Baby steps. New love. New at­ti­tude... It’s okay to have men­tal strug­gles and to talk about them. And stay in this mixed up game of life as things can and will change! And as a won­der­ful DJ once told me, “Fuck shame!”

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