Lochside Garage

I struggled to cope… keeper opens up about his mental

Fresh from keeping a clean sheet on Saturday, Ballinamallard’s number one has spoken out about the difficulties he struggled with trying to cope with his father’s death.
Forty-one-year-old goalkeeper John Connolly, who signed for Ballinamallard United during the summer, opened up about the mental health battle he has been facing. John, who is originally from Dublin, but lives in Newry, lost his mother three years ago. Then in April of this year, his father Sean, who had been living with him, passed away.
The goalkeeper took to Twitter to post about a ‘mental barrier’ that he has been facing – in the hope of helping others who may also be struggling.
Speaking to the Herald, John explained: “My dad died on the 30th of April and a couple of weeks after that when everything had settled down, I started to struggle.
“I had thought about opening up about it, but I left it, didn’t get any help, and thought I would deal with it myself. I kept thinking that it would go away but eventually I opened up about how I was feeling, and it has definitely helped me.
“I did it more so to try and help somebody else who is going through something similar. If what I done helps one other person, then it was worth it.”
John is well known within the sporting community having played football for many clubs including Cliftonville and Derry City during his goalkeeping career.
John revealed that it was difficult for him to open up, but the support he was received since posting the tweets has been a great help to him: “The amount of people who thanked me for opening up was amazing because they are going through it and didn’t open up.
“They were struggling mentally, but then came across the tweets and seen that it is okay not to be okay.”
“When I was alone and trying to deal with it, I was feeling guilty because I have brothers and sisters who were going through the same thing,” John added.
“People need to know that there are people out there who are willing to sit down and listen to you, and who will try and help as best they can. It is a massive help when you actually open up – it is like a weight lifted off your shoulders. People have come to me and offered help, or even just a chat. If you are feeling like this, let someone know, it will help.
“It is making the first step in getting help – there is people out there who will help you.”
These helplines are there if you’re down or feeling desperate:
• Lifeline – 0808 808 8000
• Samaritans – 08457 909090

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