Hockey star Paul Gleghorne tells of his lifelong depression battle in bid to help others
One of Northern Ireland's top hockey stars has revealed how he has battled depression since he was a child and how a visit to his mother's grave was the turning point.
Antrim man Paul Gleghorne, who had notable success at the recent European Hockey Championships in London with Ireland, said he had struggled with his mental health for most of his life.
In the hope it will encourage others to get help, the 28-year-old used his blog to talk about his journey in dealing with mental health problems since he was eight.
After seeking professional help in January last year, he was diagnosed with a number of anxiety and depression disorders.
Despite having many close friends and family, the hockey star blamed his depression on "weakness".
He said that at 14 insomnia, self-harm and suicidal thoughts were part of his life and his reluctance to talk about his feelings led to him abandoning all hope.
"Finally, I just couldn't go on hiding the way I felt. I was exhausted from life and exhausted from the way I had felt for so long. I couldn't remember the last time I got up in the morning and wanted to be there.
"My thoughts of self-harm and suicide seemed to have got progressively worse and worse since childhood."
Paul said: "One day I had enough and decided I was going to end the pain. I went to visit the cemetery where my mother (who passed away when I was 16) was buried.
"As I looked at my mother's grave it brought back memories of how hard she battled against cancer, how she just refused to give up. With tears in my eyes, I decided that I wasn't going to give up either.
"I went home and sent myself an email to remind me to make an appointment with my doctor the next morning. I view that moment as the defining moment in my life."
Months later he told family and some close friends about his depression. He said the "amazing" response gave him confidence to open up to more people.
"To date I am continuing with treatment, and I am realistic that given the length of time I felt the way I did, that I still have a lot of treatment to go," he added.
"I want to reassure that anyone reading this who feels they may be suffering from any type of mental illness, you are not alone, there are other people struggling just as you are.
"You can get help; it's not always easy, but it will be worth it."