Rugby star Keith Earls has said growing up in Moyross, Co Limerick, was “challenging at times” due to the violence and feuds that occurred during his childhood.
As The Irish Examiner reports, he remembers a time when he was in the back garden with family and they heard gunshots.
“Myself and my cousin ran out to the porch, and you know there was a guy standing there with a balaclava, firing shots at a group of young lads running,” he said on the on Friday night.
“Not sure if he was actually going for them or was it a couple of shots to scare them. You know that was, I suppose, a unique situation that not many people I suppose in the country would have grown up with.”
He added: “It was tough at times and, as I said, I know I’m painting a tough picture here of Moyross but I can only tell my story and I am very proud to be from Moyross but you know this was my experience.”
Earls was speaking in advance of the publication of his autobiography , in which he opens up about his battle with his mental health.
“Thankfully the last couple of years I’ve got a great hold on it”@KeithEarls87 shares his story of being diagnosed with Bipolar 2, the negative voice in his head he calls ‘Hank’, and how he reached out and asked for help.#LateLate pic.twitter.com/2E4VcAW9Lr
— The Late Late Show (@RTELateLateShow) October 15, 2021
He said he had his first panic attack following the death of his cousin.
“I found that tough because he was only 19, so he was young and that was the first time I come across death or even I suppose talked about death,” he said.
“You know, I was sitting at home on the couch and my parents were at work and I remember thinking ‘I wasn’t going to see my cousin ever again’ and then it just went downhill from there I was thinking about when I die, I will never see my parents. I was shaking, I was trembling.”
He continued to have panic attacks throughout his career, with paranoia, depression, anxiety and negative thoughts being pervasive.
Eventually it got to a point, in 2013, that he felt he needed to reach out for help.
“So, I rang the doctor… I explained everything to him, he was brilliant. I went down to see a guy in Cork, a psychiatrist, and diagnosed me with bipolar 2,” he explained.
“You know there is obviously bipolar 1 as well, but bipolar 2 is probably the better out of the two to get. I was delighted to get the diagnosis; I was genuinely losing my mind.”
In the intervening years, Earls said he has come to the point where he feels more secure in his mental health, and in his battle against Hank, the name he has given to his negative thoughts.