Irish Olympics hopeful Brendan Doyle teams up with MyMind mental health charity to urge young people to ask for help if they need it. Brendan is an ex-Garda and Winter Olympics hopeful from Dublin. Close to seven years ago, Brendan’s life was turned upside down in a heartbeat after a terrifying attack. What followed for Brendan was a painful struggle with depression, anxiety and chronic insomnia.
Brendan lost all hope in ever enjoying life again until he discovered his true passion and began to fight for his dream of Olympics glory.Brendan recalls, “On a late spring day in May, a colleague and I were called to a domestic abuse incident at a house in Dublin. Arriving to find an aggressive man and a frightened, injured woman, I did what any Garda would do and attempted to apprehend the suspect.
“During the incident that ensued, I sustained massive injuries to my hand which still leaves me without function in my baby finger and thumb, and a lifetime of skin grafts and corrective surgery ahead. Despite the damage done to my hand, it wasn’t the physical damage that took its toll. It was the mental trauma that hit me hard.“This started with night terrors. I would relive what happened that night, waking up and grabbing my hand thinking it had been wounded all over again.“Depression followed. I just got into a dark place where I struggled to keep on going.
The lowest point for me was not when I thought about ending it all, but when I got to a point where I thought this would be the most logical step. For me, it stopped being scary and simply seemed a better solution than what I was going through.“It was after my deepest, darkest moment, just before I was about to take that step into doing something permanent that I made a deal with myself. I would make one last and real effort to break this cycle that I was living in.”Brendan went back to the one thing he’d always loved – sport. He started training again and after a while, he was back to racing.He then made the life-changing decision of leaving the Gardai. “My happiness meant more than any job. Being as close as I was to losing it all, I knew I needed to take the step to ensure a happy future.”
Brendan is now training to get to the Winter Olympics games in a sport called Skeleton which involves racing down a bobsleigh track head first, hitting speeds of over 145kph.“I now understand how fragile life is, and I’m going to do this. I want people to see that depression is tough but it’s not the end. If I can not only work through it, but go to represent my country at the Olympics in such a mentally demanding sport such as skeleton, anyone can come out the other side,” said Brendan.
Brendan is working with MyMind to raise awareness around mental health, fight stigma, and put wellbeing within everyone’s reach.He said, “The reason I’m so excited to work with MyMind is that when I was going through my depression and panic attacks, I had so many reasons not to go talk to someone. I needed a GP note to get a referral to a counsellor. It was just too expensive and honestly, I didn’t have the drive to go. They make getting help simple. All you need to do is pick up the phone to call or click online to book and get the help you need.“If there is anyone out there reading this, going through their own troubles, I urge you to take the step and contact MyMind. I was so lucky to get through my ordeal and I want to do all I can to ensure that others don’t have to struggle as I did,” said Brendan.
MyMind Centre for Mental Wellbeing was founded by ex-Googler Krystian Fikert in 2006 as a not-for-profit provider of accessible mental health care. Centres in Dublin, Cork and Limerick provide multilingual counselling and psychotherapy services. Fees are based upon employment status, offering the unemployed or students affordable services. Revenue generated from full fee clients is reinvested, enabling us to provide services to all. Clients self-refer and appointments are within 72 hours.
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