“Because I was a proud fella, and I didn’t want to really talk about my troubles back then.”
Maurice Shanahan has opened up on the mental health difficulties he went through in 2014.
Shanahan received widespread support for going public with his story , after winning an All-Star in 2015, opening up a conversation that needed to be had publicly in Ireland.
Shanahan has teamed up with Electric Ireland to invite the public to join them for a special ‘One Sunrise Together’ for Darkness Into Light on Saturday, May 8th, in order to raise vital funds for Pieta’s lifesaving services.
The Waterford man is hoping to raise awareness about mental health by talking about his own struggles.
“I was a proud fella, and I didn’t want to talk about my troubles back then. When I was going through those problems at the start, I didn’t want my family worrying about me, ‘this will just pass’,” Shanahan said.
“I kind of locked myself away for nearly two months. My family members knew there was something wrong and were trying to look after me but I didn’t really want their help either at the time.
“One day below in the kitchen, inside in the house, I saw my father and he just bursted out crying. It hit home with me then. Dan kind of had a stern talk with me at the same time. My father had cancer at the time as well and, I suppose, he had his own battles that he had to win himself but I was putting more doom and gloom down on him.”
Help and support.
The Lismore forward believes hurling was a massive release for him during a traumatic period.
“In 2014, I was training away with Waterford but I didn’t want to be there, to be honest with you. I didn’t want to be going training,” Shanahan said.
“I always travelled with Shane Fives and Tommy Ryan but there would be nights I’d text them saying ‘I’ll go down myself tonight’. I just wanted to be on my own going down the road.
“There would be some nights going down the road when you’d just be crying, and you get yourself right, train with the lads and then you cry coming home again, cry in bed. Once you’re below training, look, you were just putting on a brave face in front of everyone, just to get through it. Then I acted on it.”
Help and support.
The 31-year-old puts a lot of his recovery down to Waterford manager at the time, Derek McGrath, and teammates at his club, Lismore, who supported him during his struggles.
“Thankfully I’m still here to tell the story. The first time, Derek tried to get me back – to this day he said it was something that he thought was the best for me going forward, and I probably thought that myself too – but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, I wasn’t able for it. I just didn’t want to be there,” Shanahan continued.
“To be fair to Derek, he was very good to me. He said ‘take the year out now and come back the next year stronger and better.’ It wasn’t that Derek just hung up the phone and left it then until the following year, because he was in touch with me every day, trying to look after me in a way.
“Another teacher in Lismore, Sean Prendergast, was training the Lismore senior team at the time, but he was very good to me too. I could hear the school bell going at half two or a quarter to three and five minutes later, Sean would arrive up to my house for two or three weeks solid with bottles of water, bottles of Lucozade. ‘Could you come up to the field to training tonight? You don’t even have to train, just to be with the lads’, he’d say.
“To be honest, I didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to play. I’ll never forget, we were playing Roanmore in the championship below in Walsh Park. I remember the lads training on the Thursday night, and me having done nothing for maybe a month. I remember Mattie Pender – he was a selector, he said ‘we need you tomorrow evening.’ I said ‘I have no interest in playing that match.’ And I didn’t, I didn’t want to. But it was the best thing I’ve done.
“I got the gear the following day, went down, was inside full forward and we got three goals between us, myself and Dan, I got two and it kind of brought a pep back into my step. I’ll never forget it, we got a free to win the game around 60/70 yards out. I’d say most of the lads didn’t want me hitting it because they didn’t know what kind of headspace I was in but thankfully, it went over the bar. The joy I got from that day.
“I remember the huddle after the match, I thanked every one of them that got me down there and that gave a bit of life to me again. There was a long road after that, there was, we lost to Ballygunner in the county semi-final but I was back into it big time and I wanted to go to the field, wanted to be back hurling. It got me back.”
“It was the best feeling I ever got in my life, to be honest.”
Shanahan’s daughter Rosie is six weeks old now and he describes the day she was born as the best of his life.
“Talking to people who said they were there for their first child born, it’s incredible stuff. Jesus, being in that room when Rosie was born was a different feeling altogether,” Shanahan added.
“It was the best feeling I ever got in my life, to be honest. To hold my daughter in my arms straight away and thankfully everything is good with her. She’s flying at the moment.
“If I didn’t talk out in 2014, who knows? I might never have witnessed that. But, it was the best day of my life so far, witnessing the birth of our daughter.
“If you can speak out and talk to people, you will see things improving down the line and I wouldn’t change my life for anything at the moment.”
To sign up for Darkness Into Light, head to www.darknessintolight.ie.
If you are affected by any of the above issues, you can call the Samaritans on 116123, who are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
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