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'I thought I would die beneath these eagles on the pillars of a driveway'

In the latest episode of 'Andy Lee Meets...', the champion boxer sat down with comedian, Today FM radio star and meditation teacher, Dermot Whelan. 

It took what felt like a near-death experience to convince Dermot Whelan that his priorities were not in order.

As a rapidly emerging talent on Ireland's stand-up comedy scene, Whelan, speaking on the latest episode of 'Andy Lee Meets...' in association with SEAT and the new SEAT Leon, explored his misplaced approach to life at this time.

"In about 2007," he explained, setting the scene for how he encountered meditation, "I was doing a lot.

"I was a few years doing stand-up and rising pretty quickly and doing little bits of TV work too. I was presenting a breakfast show on the radio that had me up at 4.30 am despite being in the comedy clubs the night before.

"Between all that, I started having a family then with my wife too."

Of a mind that hard work was there to be done, Whelan balanced his responsibilities as best he could.

"I had virtually no stress-management system in place other than the typical kind of Irish response to just have a pint and assumed it'll be grand," he admitted.

"Instead of resting at the weekends then, I'd just go out, distract myself rather than relax."

Eventually, it all caught up with him.

"I was driving to the Kilkenny Cat Laughs comedy festival and I started feeling really weird," he explained. "It was like an invisible man had opened the door of the car, got in and sat on my lap.

"It felt like there was the weight of another human on top of me, but I thought I was probably just hungover because I'd been out the night before.

"In the end, I had to pull the car over and I was sort of gasping for breath. Then I got these really bad pains in my chest and I thought, oh, here we go, I'm a statistic.

"I remember lying down on the side of the road, in the driveway of this really Irish bungalow with eagles on the pillars. Real statement pillars. I thought, this is where I'm going to die. It was terrifying."

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Although he wasn't to know until later informed by doctors in hospital, Dermot Whelan had suffered an anxiety attack.

"I had never had an anxiety attack up until that point," he explained, later discussions with others in his profession revealed that though common, such things were rarely discussed.

"I got into the ambulance and they did a few checks. They gave me a brown paper bag. 'Breath into that.' Really? I knew the health service was strapped for cash, but, come on!

"They did plenty of tests on me in hospital but I was actually pretty healthy. I'd just never experienced anything like this before."

An event that gave Whelan cause to stop and think, from the point of feeling like he was about to die in a driveway beneath pillared eagles, he eventually came to appreciate the possibilities that meditation availed him.

You can watch Dermot Whelan in conversation with Andy Lee across OTB's social channels from Sunday. 

'Andy Lee Meets...' is in association with the all-new Seat Leon, the brands’ first fully connected car.


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