Depression & Anxiety. Sports People too!

Sports people are talking about depression & anxiety. Rugby World Cup winner Nolli Waterman has spoken about #LiftTheWeight  https://youtu.b

I saw a message on Facebook from a very, very good amateur player I know, like and admire, with what appears everything going for him. It is well worth the read:

Depression & Anxiety

Last weekend The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) launched their #LiftTheWeight campaign to help tackle the stigma surrounding mental health problems.  Current and ex-players in both the men’s and woman’s game, including my all time hero Jonny Wilkinson, are speaking about their personal battles. From trawling through social media platforms over the past few days it’s clear that it’s already having a really positive effect. A massive well done to the RPA and to all of the players involved.

This campaign encourages me to tell more people about my story…

I’m Charlie, I’m 24 years old and I suffer with depression and anxiety.

I’ve battled depression and anxiety for just over 8 years now but throughout most of last year it became fairly bad. In early October I got to a place in my life where I knew I couldn’t keep fighting it by myself. I was being stupid. For the very first time I accepted I was ill and needed a hand. Whilst I’ve initially only opened up to a few of those closest to me, it’s been the best thing I’ve ever done and something I so wish I’d acted upon sooner.

Prior to speaking up I was honestly ashamed by it. I thought I was very strange, and that nobody my age should have these problems therefore I shouldn’t open up. I felt that the strong and manly thing to do was to keep it to myself and get on with life in the hope that it would eventually just fade away. It doesn’t quite happen like that and, of course, it makes everything worse. The weight on my shoulders became heavier and heavier each time I bottled it up.

I’ve had plenty of good days, weeks and months but when things got bad I’d hide away, go into a shell and isolate myself from family and friends. I longed for time on my own just so I didn’t have to put up this front, yet also despised myself for doing it. It’s not how you fight it and it slowly eats away at you. It turns you into something else. I struggled to get close to people, my motivation towards so many things went and I started to hate the stuff I knew I loved and was passionate about.

Ultimately it massively affected my last couple of years at school. It fractured and, in some cases, ended friendships and relationships whilst cutting short countless opportunities put in front of me.

Had I known…

Had I known right at the beginning the impact of talking about my problems would have on me, I’d have opened up in a heartbeat. It’s slowly but surely transforming my life. I’m feeling as good as I have in a long time. This has all happened because I spoke. It’s ridiculous how much it helps. It’s not a cure but it works.

I feel very fortunate enough not to have got to the point of ever feeling suicidal. I know I’m a lucky one. Suicide is the biggest killer of young people – male and female – under the age of 35 in the U.K. In 2015, 1,659 young people took their own lives. That equates to over four per day. Every year many thousands more attempt or contemplate suicide, harm themselves or suffer alone, afraid to speak openly about how they’re feeling.

Unfortunately, mental health problems are not treated or perceived in the same way as other illnesses.

It’s no different from getting flu or even breaking your leg. Both need treatment and neither of these will ever be seen as embarrassing or weak. Very simply, mental health shouldn’t be either.

I haven’t written this for sympathy or for anyone to feel remotely sorry for me (I don’t and it’s the last thing I bloody want!!). I’m not one to do these sorts of things but I felt compelled to tell a snippet of my story in the hope it may help someone else in the way other peoples’ stories have inspired me.

I hope this can play a small part in squashing the stigma. It’s not embarrassing. It’s not weak.

It’s ok to talk.

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