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'I Was Throwing Up Every Time I Ate, Every Time I Drank. I Couldn't Sleep'

'I Was Throwing Up Every Time I Ate, Every Time I Drank. I Couldn't Sleep'

Diarmuid Lyng's path back to happiness is the subject of a new Laochra Gael which airs Thursday, March 12th at 9:30pm on TG4.

Lyng was one of Wexford's most skilful hurlers but fell out of love with the game nearly a decade ago.

Three years after joining the Wexford senior panel, Lyng suffered a hamstring injury in the 2007 All-Ireland quarter-final against Tipperary.

He visited a cryotherapy chamber in a bid to speed up his recovery but unwisely jumped in a jacuzzi and sauna to warm up. It was the beginning of a malaise which would trouble him for years to come.

"Yeah, just everything stopped working," Lyng says.

"I was throwing up every time I ate, every time I drank. I couldn't sleep, at all, I'd be up all night. I was frozen inside.

"I suppose people didn't have any understanding of what was going on. I had consulted doctors and I was prescribed antibiotics and they didn't work.

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"I tried them again, they destroyed my stomach again, another course. I just kept struggling on.

"Perhaps people thought I was imagining it, or that my problem was mental."

Lyng continued to play out of a sense of duty and belief that he could not do without being a Wexford player. He won a county title with St Martin's in 2008 and reached a league final in 2010 but all was not right. He was struggling both mentally and physically.

At the conclusion of the 2010 season, he decided to go travelling. It was during this time that discovered meditation and yoga.

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"It was both a respite and an opportunity," Lyng says.

No-one was relying on me. I didn't have a role to play. I met one of the monks and I noticed when I started talking that he was listening to me, really listening.

He said, 'Look, we can get up at six every morning and practice yoga or whatever your body needs in order to recover'. So that's what we did. And gradually, the tension was easing away.

All the physical fall-out from the cryotherapy chamber was exacerbated, I think, by my lack of mental harmony because I couldn't see the natural answers of life in front of me. I was just obsessed with the person I thought I was.

When we came home the lads were saying... Stephen Banville, the former Wexford player, summed it up best: He rang me and said he was talking to someone during the week and they said, 'I hear Gizzy Lyng's a Buddhist'. We were laughing about it.

After spending 18 months travelling, Lyng returned to Ireland and the Wexford panel, playing with the freedom of his youth. Though he was still not 100 per cent physically.

His Wexford career ended in 2013 and he strived to fill the gap left by the inter-county game, spending time working in Dublin for Newstalk. That was a dark period for Lyng mentally.

"He really struggled in Dublin," his friend and former Wexford teammate Eoin Quigley recalls.

"I was concerned for him then. We had probably lost touch a little bit. I tried to speak to him as often as I could and maybe I should have been a bit more for him.

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"I remember ringing him up one day and I said, 'How are you keeping?' and he said, 'I'm just in darkness here in the room. I can't get out of the bed, my body just won't let me. I've been in darkness for two days and I'm not eating'.

"I visited him up in Dublin in that house. I could see there was something wrong.

"I was glad to see him get out of Dublin."

Lyng moved to the Dingle Peninsula, a special place in his youth, and today he lives near the village of Annascaul with his partner Siobhán and their son Uisne. They live off the land, growing their own food and foraging.

He still works as a hurling analyst for TG4, as a public speaker and organises workshops to raise awareness of social issues.

"I just needed to take that step and get away from the city to a more natural rhythm of life," Lyng says.

"I made the decision to come here (Kerry). I just wanted to sit here alone, sit here with my struggle. I suppose I made a decision to embrace the darkness as well. I didn't realise how dark things would get.

"A month later I met Siobhán and ever since then, I'm just gathering strength all the time.

"I fell out with the sport. I lost my love for the game, and my love for life. But love is a good medicine."

Picture credit: Sportsfile

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