‘I strug­gled with anx­i­ety from age 13,’ re­veals Brent

Irish Independent - - News - Fiona Dil­lon

RUGBY pun­dit Brent Pope has opened up about the crip­pling anx­i­ety he has bat­tled in his life – which be­gan when he was just 13 years old.

He was speak­ing at a ma­jor Men­tal Health and Well­be­ing Sum­mit at­tended by hun­dreds of del­e­gates at the Aviva Sta­dium.

The one-day event brought to­gether or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing the De­fence Forces, the Garda, and the HSE, along with the pub­lic and stu­dents, to learn about man­ag­ing men­tal health.

In a mov­ing ad­dress, Pope told how his body had served him well all his life. “I have been a good sportsman, I al­ways ex­celled phys­i­cally. It’s just that my mind didn’t fol­low. I never re­ally un­der­stood un­til I got into my 40s, un­til I sought the right help,” he said.

When Pope was around 13, he was get­ting into a bath on a Sun­day night. “There is just a bar­rage or a ‘Gatling gun’ of neg­a­tive thoughts com­ing to mind,” he re­called.

Even­tu­ally, he ended up get­ting the help that he needed, and he shared his story to en­cour­age other peo­ple to also seek help if they need it.

Ma­jella O’Don­nell, wife of singer Daniel, took part in a panel dis­cus­sion. “As lots of peo­ple know, I was di­ag­nosed with breast cancer in 2013, and I shaved my head on ‘The Late Late Show’ to raise aware­ness and money for the Ir­ish Cancer So­ci­ety. I have also bat­tled de­pres­sion for most of my life. I think I had my first bout of bad de­pres­sion when I was 19, but I wasn’t re­ally di­ag­nosed un­til I was 36,” she said.

“When I got cancer, I thought: ‘Oh my God, how is this go­ing to im­pact my men­tal health? Am I go­ing to go into a deep, dark place?’ But sur­pris­ingly I didn’t.

“Hav­ing dealt with all that, the cancer, men­tal health, it’s made me a much stronger per­son to­day, a more re­laxed and laid-back per­son.”

Ann Marie Ire­land, Chill-Out Ire­land, and, be­low, Brent Pope at the Men­tal Health and Well­be­ing Sum­mit. Photo: Frank McGrath

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