Building Up To The Breakdown

I look back.. I wonder if I should have done things differently. This question goes through my mind daily. I guess I will never know. At the start of the year, all I could think about was getting away from Northern Ireland. It brought me so much sadness. I couldn’t walk into my house without having this feeling of emptiness. I constantly had flashbacks of my dad lying in bed, seeing him pass away and picturing his coffin in the bedroom. 

I got on a plane to Arizona in early January. In my mind I had to get away. I lived alone in my apartment and for the coming months all I did was immerse myself in work. I thought if I kept busy I wouldn’t think about things. My days normally involved a workout in the morning, practice all day, dinner, sometimes another workout and bed. I spent more time alone than usual, and a lot of nights crying to myself when memories seeped in. But my goal seemed to be blocking it out as much as possible. If anything about my dad was brought up by anyone I tried to shut it down and deflect. I wasn’t heading down a good path, but I couldn’t see that at the time. Keeping busy felt right. It was my way of escaping reality. 

Anxiety was still there, I felt my confidence diminishing on a daily basis. I still had a fear of people saying that they had heard about my dad and were sorry for my loss. I don’t think I was living in the real world. To me, it still felt like when I got back on that plane to Northern Ireland that my dad was going to be there and everything would be normal. I don’t think I fully accepted or processed everything that happened. 

After a couple of months of training, I started my season by playing 8 weeks in a row. I travelled all over the world. From Arizona, to South Africa, Thailand, Australia and Spain. I just didn’t want to go home. I still wanted to be constantly busy. The final week ended in Spain with my best finish of the year. I had some family and friends there that week. I really enjoyed being with them and having their support. This was the first time I saw them since I left in January. 

I remember getting home, walking through my front door and reality hit. I thought I would rush down to my dad’s room and tell him all about my travels and events. Except he wasn’t there. I felt this cold feeling every time I was in the house that week. I couldn’t walk into his room.  Reality slapped me hard across the face. My dad was gone. This was the first time since January I truly stopped to think.

The next months when I went back on tour were not the same. I couldn’t function and golf was the furthest thing on my mind. It was like I started to carry emotional baggage with me everywhere I went. My mind was so clouded. I wasn’t present, I couldn’t think without getting distracted or my thoughts dragging me elsewhere. Flashbacks of memories with my dad started. These memories seemed to only bring pain and never happiness. It seemed everywhere I looked, something was there to trigger it and make it worse. Small things like seeing other players at tournaments with their dads. I wished he could come to tournaments with me like he always did. Even the simple things like playing a few holes around our local course. That was never going to happen again and for the first time in 5 months, I was starting to process that. 

My daily goal was to put a smile on my face. I wanted to get through the day without others asking if I was fine or saying I didn’t seem like myself. My mask which I felt I wore daily started to peel off. My family grew more and more concerned. My friends started to notice I wasn’t my usual outgoing self. They started to voice this to me, but I couldn’t see it. They begged me to take time off and get some help. They tried to convince me not to get on the plane to Q school in August. But I kept pushing on, so I got on the plane. I thought everything was going to go away by itself.

Until I broke down. 

I remember being by myself in my apartment after missing LPGA Q school in August. I sat in my apartment alone and didn’t go to sleep. I cried for so many hours. It was nothing to do with golf or not making it through Q School. I think it finally hit me that I was in a bad place. I felt so distant from everyone, so isolated and so far away from myself. That night the tears streamed down my eyes as I read every single text message between my dad and I. Alarm bells were going off in my head. But I didn’t know what to do.

I got on a plane from Arizona to Sweden the next day. I told myself to get through that week and then I could go home and figure out what to do next. Except I couldn’t make it through that week. I played one round, came off the course and broke down to my friends who I was staying with that week. For the first time I spoke to them about everything. I couldn’t play the next day. Physically and mentally I was done. I withdrew from the event and got on the next flight home…

3 responses to “Building Up To The Breakdown”

  1. Well done Olivia. Life and the rat race all pressurise us to keep going. We feel guilty taking time off for ourselves and not living up to others expectations. The same happened to me when I lost my mum and brother abd a few years later my dad..and only when I got cancer was I forced to step back and look after me. Enjoy your time off. If that means not working, that’s OK and when you’re ready..the world is your oyster…seen from a different perspective


  2. Olivia, you have suffered the most traumatic year of your young life.I believe you have taken the correct decision this past year, you and only you will know when to move forward. Like your Dad, I know you have a great future ahead in Professional golf, belief always.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: