Personal Best times: 60m – 7.20, 100m – 11.19, 200m - 23.26
In this interview, Michael talks about his experience of mental health in sport and life.
How did you first get involved with Sprinting? And what motivate you to pick it up? How did the clubs help to build your identity?
Thanks Neil, I first got involved in sprinting through playing soccer when I was 15 in my local soccer club back in Mooncoin. I realised I was the quickest in nearly every match we played and it was suggested to me I should take up sprinting. I ended up giving up soccer and joined Ferrybank Athletics Club, as I enjoyed the thrill of sprinting, even though everyone was much faster than me in the club, I loved running for myself and reaching personal goals. I developed more into the sport when I went to college and joined WIT Athletics Club and Menapians Athletics Club. During my time in college, I was on WIT Athletics Club committee for 4 years and on the Irish Universities Athletics Association for 3 years.
What do you most enjoy about running?
I like the competitive side, making friends and feeling good about myself. I think putting in all the effort that I put in is put too good use when I do so well when it comes to ("dancing time" quote – Shane McCormack). I enjoyed it a lot, along with lots of success on the track in college. I’m at the stage now where I am on the comeback from a big setback year in sprinting, so along with Shane McCormack and Co, I hope to be back to my best again in 2018.
Who are your role models in and out of the sport?
When I was younger I looked up to Dean Adams in Ballymena & Antrim AC, being a fellow (Short Sprinter) I compared myself too him having the fast start etc... I still have a long way to go to beat him haha!
Out of the sport I always looked up too Tommy Walsh, in my opinion was the best corner back to ever play hurling, he never gave up in matches and again, being (The Short Guy) always came out on top under a high ball.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?
“When you go at it, you should go at it awful very hard” – Paddy Losty.
Talk to us about how you came to finally knowing, that you must do something about your mental health.
It’s been a year since I realised my head was not in a good place. I wasn’t in a good situation. I went through hell and even after I finally doing something about it, I still went through hell. Trust me, it isn’t a walk in the park but getting help and speaking out will help you 100%. I kind of knew over the years I wasn’t being helped and a lot of stress was built up upon me that really had nothing to do with me. I really was only heading in one direction mentally if I didn’t remove myself and reach out too others who could help me. I got help from my friends and athletics coach, a lot of help, advice from different people in all avenues but I did go to Pieta House, twice a week for a while and then once a week and then once a forth night. But yes I was suicidal, I did suffer from depression and anxiety because of all this. My athletics went down the sink for a year and my life was pretty much unstable in every aspect. I was alone, but I got the help I needed by speaking out. I am now in a much better place mentally and physically and I feel much better again.
What was your biggest weakness and how did you overcome it?
My biggest weakness with regards my mental health problem was trying to stay put. I kept running away from my problems. I kept trying to hide them and pretend I was ok. I kept doing things I shouldn't be doing and if it wasn’t for my friends and coaches I wouldn't have been able to realise for myself that I was the way I was. I overcame everything by getting help.
Recently, I have set up an organisation called MikeTalks, which I am doing, too hopefully help others that might be in a similar situation and to further educate people on the topic of mental health. Giving a real insight story on what it felt like to be alone and have problems all your life that you are trying to deal and get rid of, an insight into how this influenced, education, sport and life in general. There will be several locations within Ireland over the next year, in association with Athletics Ireland and raising money for ASK mental health awareness campaign. Keep an eye out for MikeTalks on Facebook!.
What was it like during training and competition when your head was not in the right place?
The last year for me was tough enough as you know, I tried to keep up training but lots of things in my life caught up with me and I had to deal with a lot personally. I found it hard to turn up to training and used to settle for sitting in my room instead. The support from my coaches Shane McCormack and Michael McKeon, along with my friends such as Shaun Donohue, Richard Lucas and Conor Wilson who very much helped me to get out of the rut that I was in and to help me get my athletic career back on track. They encouraged me to go to competitions all year and get back training. It took the bones of a year but I’m almost back into a nice routine again. All thanks to all my friends and coaches, without them, a year ago while I was at rock bottom (health wise), no doubt I would truly in a different place right now.
Talk to us about, where is a great place to learn more about mental health, who helped you, what helped you, what supported you.
I learned a lot thought websites like, spunout.ie and pieta house mainly. I went through 6 months of counselling in Pieta House so I reached out too them, although it was suggested to me I needed counselling it did take me 3 months to actually ring them and ask for it. It’s not always easy to get help but I really did need it and I accepted that. It’s not common that men accept they need help with mental health but that’s one of my aims with MikeTalks to try and encourage lads especially to talk, within sport, it can be awfully stressful and there’s a lot of pressure never mind things can be happening in the background, bullying, stalking, abuse. You really don't know what is going on in someone's life. I was described as a "Happy go lucky person". Says a lot really.
Mike, what is your biggest tip to someone who may be dealing with depression in sport?
I would say don't burn yourself out, do as much as you can. If something is going on in your life deal with it. Talk to you friends, family, coaches, anybody at all. If you can't train because something is going on in your life, talk to someone about it and try come to terms with your situation as best you can and try not to get too caught up with it. Don’t ever dwell on it or hesitate that you might not need help. If you aren't feeling ok, Talk.
Where do you draw the inspiration form?
I get very inspired when I see Clodagh Dunbar doing my washing up. It makes me question my laziness. Ah but when I see someone doing well for themselves knowing they put in a lot of effort to get to where they are. That is very inspiring for me. I draw a lot of my inspiration from my close friends that I see doing so well for themselves. It makes me want to strive and do the same.
Have you ever thought a year ago your life would ever be as it is today?
I have lots of faith, being as bad as I was, the people around me, together with my strong mind, I stayed calm, I had a few bad days/nights but someone was always there, I was lucky. In some parts I wouldn't have thought I would have half the life I have today. I predicted a lot of it, as I knew eventually I would get back into athletics, I just needed to think of myself for a while and sort my own problems.
Where can our readers/followers follow you?
Your readers can follow me on:
Instagram – m_deady1
Twitter – m_deady
Michael thank you so much for taking the time to chat with Neil Fox Health and Fitness! It was such an informative interview. You are a such an inspiring ambassador for mental health and sport in Ireland #JustTalk
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below!