Comedian and radio host PJ Gallagher has opened up about his struggles with mental health issues and how he spent nearly three months in hospital for treatment.
Earlier this year, Mr Gallagher took time off from his presenting duties at Dublin station Radio Nova because he suffered what he called a “breakdown”.
That Naked Camera Star said he entered St. Patrick’s Hospital because he had “become such a real threat to me.”
Mr Gallagher shared his experience on a special on Radio Nova GloryDaze Podcast with his co-host Jim McCabe.
He said he has been diagnosed with depressive anxiety and recurrent depressive disorder.
“This was new to me because I think I’ve had bouts of it before, but no matter how long I’ve been doing stand-up or radio, I’ve never talked about it or told anyone about it. I’ve always just considered it my business.” “, he said.
The comedian has suffered from mental health issues in the past but said the attitude at the time meant they were never fully addressed.
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“I had significant seizures. I had a really bad seizure when I was a teenager and to be honest that was treated at the time,” he said.
“It was the 90s so it was handled differently, first GP told me to put my runners on and get moving.
“Fortunately it’s different now. Waves kept coming after that, but I knew what to do.
“I went to the GP, took these SSRI meds and within a month or so I felt better. I had a way of dealing with it, so it was never a big deal.”
Mr Gallagher said his illness returned before the start of the year and things had gotten so bad he thought “I was a real danger to myself”.
He described walking his dogs and falling to his knees from a “complete and utter nervous breakdown.”
“As bad as I was before, it was this incredible fear, unbearable, inescapable fear that came over me… All I thought for the next two months was, ‘I don’t want to be alive.’ All I could think of was not wanting to be alive,” he said.
“The only way to get rid of it was just to not be there anymore. Afraid of nothing just the crazy stuff that’s going on in my head.
“It feels so silly when you say it now, but afraid of being homeless, afraid of being poor, afraid of not having money, afraid of not having skills, afraid of being useless, afraid of being a burden to people to be afraid of all that . Feeling like you’re getting in the way of the world.”
Things came to a head one night and Mr Gallagher drove to his girlfriend Stephanie Preissner’s home at 4am because he said he knew “I won’t survive today, today is the day”.
He described Ms. Preissner as the “greatest person I’ve ever met” and said she came outside and sat with him in his car.
Mr Gallagher said at the time it was a “life and death situation” and that Ms Preissner saved his life.
“She came out and we got in the car and I was literally shaking physically in a ball, physically shaking, hands clenched, head down, and she saved my life that day,” he said.
“No shit, she saved my life that day … I went and had some food and she put her hand on my arm and said, ‘Whatever it is, I promise you, it will pass.'”
With the help of his close friend, Mr Gallagher sought the help he needed, saying St Patrick’s Hospital was “the best place on earth”. He urged others in a similar situation to seek support.
“I just wish I had gone to the hospital three weeks earlier…you learn how to use it then,” he said.
“I’ll never be that sick again, it’s never going to happen because now I have the tools, you have to work at being healthy… I’ll get sick again, but it’ll never be that way again.” Hopefully I’ll never be in the hospital again.
“Hopefully I never have to take a break from work again. I’m in a really good place… I’ve never felt better. This is undoubtedly the best year of my life. I’ve learned to say no.”
He added: “The hardest thing in the world when you’re feeling this way is to tell someone. But you have to tell someone.
“I got lucky again, I have health insurance, I was actually going to cancel it last year… thank god I didn’t cancel it. Go to your family doctor. If you’re feeling really, really desperate, go to a hospital, go to A&E, ask for someone to help you.
“I know it’s going to sound crazy to anyone who’s depressed, and I know it sounds impossible, but give yourself a chance, talk to your friends, tell everyone around you that you’re not feeling well feel because you will get help. I know it sounds ridiculous when you’re in it, but there’s a way out.”
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https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/i-was-a-threat-to-myself-comedian-pj-gallagher-opens-up-about-mental-health-struggles-42085784.html PJ Gallagher opens up on mental health issues: ‘I was a threat to myself’