Irish ex-MMA athlete and fighter Graham McCormack had always struggled with his mental health, from an early age hating himself and getting into all kinds of trouble. He was expelled from school for drinking on the grounds, and was into rehab at age 16. At age 19 he had made his first suicide attempt.
“I let my thoughts get the best of me I started to believe them and acted out. What I decided to do here was that I tried to end my life at 19,” he told presenter Ryan Tubridy.
He explained that when he had his first daughter, he felt like a bad role model and it took a significant toll on his mental health. His thoughts included “You can’t even look after yourself, how do you expect to look after a child, another human being?”
McCormack ended up in Cork University Hospital, under heavy watch, care and sedation. He went into crisis mode and understood that he needed to be mellowed out a bit. Afterwards he was able to go home and took up fitness, however, his mental health took another nosedive and he decided to make another attempt on his own life.
In a desperate act, he saved up his medication for two weeks and swallowed it all. He was then diagnosed with unstable personality disorder.
Relieved to finally have his diagnosis, he however had some further concerns. It left him believing that this condition would be with him for the rest of his life.
“I felt that my emotions were not mine and if they were then I wasn’t in control of them.”
The last hurrah of his treatment was DBT. A core skill of DBT is mindfulness. Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts accepting them, being with them and living with them and not allowing them to have power over your emotions.
Gaining this level of awareness however is by no means easy, it can be very difficult to reprogram your brain, as McCormick found. However, around the nine-month mark it started to kick in. McCormick credits mindfulness as part of his DBT treatment as the reason he is still alive.