‘I can feel the depression’: The real-life experiences of depression sufferers


A man who was diagnosed with depression at the age of 14 has shared his story to raise awareness of the condition.

John and Joanne McColl are one of many people in Ireland who suffered from severe depression symptoms.

But their stories have never been told before, as they suffered with the condition for years.

“My mother was a mental health nurse and we had a ward where we had all sorts of people coming and going, and it was very isolating, you don’t really have friends and you don,t really have anybody to talk to,” John said.

“I remember once being in the psychiatric ward where I went and was just staring at the floor for about three hours.”

There was a guy who had a beard and was in a mask and there was this woman in a robe with her hair down, I was so traumatised.

“While the couple struggled with depression, their mother was still battling with her own mental health issues.”

She had depression, she was a little bit more of a loner, she didn’t really talk about it, but when she had a bad day it just got worse,” Joanne said.

John’s father had to move out when his son was four and was living with his grandmother in Dublin, while his mother struggled with her alcohol abuse.”

One day I got a call saying they’d taken my mum’s car,” John recalled.”

And it was like a miracle because it was so horrible and so traumatic, and she had the car.

I was just so angry that she had to leave.

“I was like ‘what have I done?'”

“And I said to my dad I don’t know, I don,m not going to leave, I want to be with her, I’ve just been looking after her, and he was like, ‘I’ll come and get her’,” John said, his voice breaking.

“But then I got the call saying that my mum had passed away.”

The couple was forced to move away from their grandmother, with John staying with his mother until her death in 2003.

“That was pretty traumatic for me because she was just the person I was closest to, the person that I could talk to, that person I could see my problems with,” John explained.

“It was really sad.

And then she died, and I was completely alone and I just couldn’t talk to anybody, I couldn’t see my mum.”

The McColls, who live in County Clare, now have their own private counselling and treatment service, called The Mental Health Network, which works with many people struggling with depression.

“We have a private counselling service, and we have an online service where we have people who are struggling with their depression that we can connect with and talk to them,” John McColl said.

Mr McColl added that while it may not be easy for a person to accept their condition, they are not alone in the struggle.

“What you do in life is not so simple,” he said.

He said the most important thing is to “find the courage to speak up, to have the courage and the will to do the right thing”.

“It is important that you don’ want to let the world down and that you are strong and you are brave,” he added.

“To be able to have someone like you who has gone through this, who has made it and can help other people to make it, that is what is so amazing.”

They just know that there is somebody who is listening and there is someone that is there for them and they are just a part of the world.

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