Fans were Murray’s ‘secret weapon’

RTÉ presenter John Murray has told listeners how depression once made the day ahead for him something to endure, rather than enjoy.

The broadcaster was back at the helm of The John Murray Show on RTÉ Radio 1 yesterday after being on sick leave for more than six months.

After opening the show with a sketch about Irish football legend Roy Keane, Murray spoke frankly about his illness.

“One minute I’m happily presenting this radio show and enjoying life, the next I am gripped by dread and anxiety, with the simplest task proving beyond me,” he said.

“As those with experience of it know, depression doesn’t drop in and say a quick hello and then head for the hills, or at least my kind didn’t.

“No, it took a fancy to me and decided to take up residence for a few months and, boy, did it make its presence felt, especially in the mornings when the day ahead became something to endure, rather than enjoy.”

Murray, 49, said that, in his battle to get better, he discovered that he had in his arsenal a secret weapon — his listeners.

Clearly emotional, Murray thanked everyone who took the trouble to contact the show asking about his health and wishing him well.

“Thanks for making the days a bit easier with your love and concern and for helping me get back here this morning,” he said.

“And so we can renew our friendship now and have a bit of craic in the process.”

Murray said he was a bit reluctant about advising others who find themselves depressed or anxious, because everyone was different.

“But one thing I will say is: Don’t be too hard on yourself; you haven’t failed life’s test; share your thoughts and feelings with others; and don’t suffer in silence,” he said.

Murray advised anyone who might know someone who is depressed not to be afraid to contact them.

“They mightn’t reply immediately, or at all, but, boy, will they appreciate that someone is thinking of them,” he said. “I know. I did.”

The presenter spoke to comedian Pat Shortt, who said Murray was like the clown in the circus.

“When the clown left the circus, they said: ‘No one will ever fill his shoes’,” said Shortt.

“Thank you for that endorsement, Pat. Hope I have not got you in tears there,” Murray replied.

Murray’s wife, journalist and media consultant Miriam Donohoe, tweeted to thank listeners for supporting him.

“Thx to you all for the love and good wishes to @johnmurray show & our family over last 6 months. #Depression can be fought together #proudwife,” she tweeted.

People said Murray had made an honest and dignified return to work and praised him for such an honest and powerful opening to his show.

One person said Murray had helped many people by what he said about his illness: “Takes a big man to stand up and talk about depression like John Murray did this morning. He knows he speaks for thousands of others.”

* Aware helpline: 1890 303 302, www.aware.ie. Samaritans helpline: 1850 609090, samaritans.org.

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