I Blew €1m On Drink, Drugs and Girls – Now I’m Back After Beating The Bullshit!
Written 7 months ago by Angel Croitor
“Through this comeback I’m trying to pave the way for kids to come behind me – the reality is if I knew what I knew now I could’ve fixed myself years ago.”
Paddy Merrigan’s words resonated out on Midlands Today as he spoke to Will Faulkner about reaching rock bottom and finding a light amongst the darkness.
At the height of his fame and fortune Paddy says he found himself living wrecklessly and spending lavishly without a care in the world for consequences. That all came to a head when in 2007 Paddy drove his BMW car worth over £100,000 to Birmingham Airport, and parked in short term, to get the earliest flight to Ireland. Three months later, having forgotten about the car, he returned to a bill totaling in thousands of pounds.
“I was so passionate about my job then and I was told I wasn’t riding the horses – that horse to me was worth more than I was to myself – unfortunately, I was heartbroken and to be honest I walked away – I said to myself I never want to be a jockey again.”
The former professional jockey has been riding horses since he was a child and got his big break when he was approached by a championship trainer from the UK at the age of 16.
“Paddy Merrigan gave up horse racing because I was too passionate for my own good.”
Now – having suffered at the hands of addiction and depression – Paddy wants to lead the way for Ireland’s youth in regards to mental health.
“I remember the press kept ringing my phone and they kept trying to contact me – I remember saying I’ll go back racing again. I land back in England and this lasts a few weeks – I was not the same man I had no passion, I had no joy.”
Paddy remembers saying to himself saying “I’m so done with this”. The reality had been all along that Paddy wasn’t unhappy with being a jockey – he was unhappy with life itself.
A corner was turned when he met an ex-partner who bore his first child. He found that the less time he spent with his child and the more time he spent trying to come back to racing he was falling into his depression further.
“Even if I won a gold cup that day it would’ve meant nothing to me – I was literally emotionally dead for years. I didn’t care about anybody or anything.”
After he attempted to return to racing at this point he fell into a party lifestyle that Paddy says would’ve matched Charlie Sheen’s.
His family have never abandoned him throughout his struggles and he credits many friends and family members with attempting to intervene and shine a light on what he was doing to himself.
The penny dropped for Paddy when a friend of his, whom Paddy was a best man for, asked him what was wrong. That’s when things hit rock bottom.
“I broke down and for the first time I came clean – I thought I was going to do away with myself.”
Paddy says that at first he didn’t feel any better. His friend promised to take him to the doctor. He told everyone that he felt emotionally screwed up and suicidal. He was recommended a specialist in a hospital in Roscommon.
“I walked into that hospital and that was an eye opener for me – that’s a scary, scary place I can tell you.”
After some intense questioning for over an hour the doctor told Paddy that “I know you’ve hit a place where you’ve been so low – but this is not the place for you. You don’t need to be tied to a bed and drugged.”
But Paddy’s struggle with depression and addiction didn’t end there. You can hear the full interview up above and find his new blog about mental health at Mad Merrigan on Facebook.