In the morning, I told the bandleader I was in bad shape. He immediately got me to a local doctor who sedated me and told the bandleader to get me back to Galway right away.
Our local doctor in Galway couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My dad recognized the seriousness of my situation and said that there were a few options.
I could go to the Regional hospital in Galway or I could go to St. Patrick’s psychiatric hospital in Dublin. He insisted it be my choice.
He always called me Jim when things got serious. He said, “Jim, I think you should consider St. Pat’s. There is something wrong with your nerves and this has been going on for a good while. St. Pat’s is the best with that kind of thing.”
I think I surprised Dad saying, “Dad, if I don’t get help right away, I don’t thing I’ll be around for much longer.” A day later, we got in the car and headed to St. Patrick’s.
It must have been very hard for my dad to see his only son in such a state of despair, especially since he had just lost the love of his life a few months earlier. My dad was old school Irish with just a few years of high school education but he was an enlightened kind and quiet man, years ahead of his time.
My four sisters were also worried sick. We have always been and continue to be very close.
I was in St. Patrick’s for a total of five weeks. Much like my first two days at Horsham, the first few weeks in St. Patrick’s were a blur as I slept most of the time. I was psychically and emotionally exhausted.
After about three weeks my depression began to lift, first for a few hours each day and eventually to the point where I felt “normal” again for long periods of the day.
My psychiatrist told me that I was suffering from reactive depression most likely triggered by the passing of my mother.
As a result of the treatment I got at St. Patrick’s, I remained free from depression for almost 40 years and have lived a fully productive life until this past April.
Because of my 40-year music career and the jobs I’ve held over the years in marketing and communications, I have spent much of my life in the public eye. Some might question the wisdom of sharing something this personal in such a public forum.
I’m not ashamed that I have had to get help twice in my life for depression and anxiety. I could have done without it, but it’s a card I have been dealt and on the larger scale of things, it’s not that big a burden. In many ways it has given me a deep insight into how the mind works that I otherwise may not have had.
It’s my hope that someone reading this who is suffering in silence will realize there is no shame in reaching out for help. Depression and anxiety should be looked at as just other forms of illness or sickness that can be taken care of with the right treatment. It’s just a matter of taking the first step.
You can also help those around you who may be suffering in silence by paying attention to the warning signs such as lack of motivation, sadness, continuous crying, excessive drinking or narcotics use, and lack of involvement in family activity.
As I noted earlier, mental illness impacts not just the person who is going through it. It can also have a devastating impact on their family and friends.
The more suppressed it is, the more dangerous it is to all involved. The support of family and friends is critical in the diagnosis of the illness and in the recovery process.
TODAY I am once again ready to take on the world. I have a beautiful wife and four wonderful children. I believe my recent experience has brought us all closer together.
I know it was hard for the children, especially for that first few days when I was in hospital. I could see the relief on their little faces when they came to visit me after a few days and they saw that I was getting back to my old self with my silly jokes and comments.
My wife was a rock through the experience, although I know it was difficult for her on many levels. She had to take care of the kids and make sure they were okay, put in a full day at work and then come visit me at the hospital each evening and put on a brave face.
I’m spending a lot more time now with my wife and with the kids. I’m more involved with the children than I have been at any time in the past. I want to be around to see them grow up and be there for them in good and challenging times.
I also have a lot of guitar licks that still need to be heard and plenty of silly jokes waiting to be told. I wake up every morning thankful that I can enjoy another day and as the song goes, I take it, “One Day at a Time.”
Below are a list of resources that can be of help for those dealing with depression and anxiety. In this day and age, there is no need for them to suffer in silence.