During my life, I have suffered with severe depression. Being a professional sportsman and trying to put up a front all the time became exhausting. I reached the top of my sport, but getting there resulted in my breakdown, and subsequently my suicide attempts and early retirement. The chronic lack of self esteem and while trying to remain confident to family, friends and for my career was too much. Unfortunately for me, being a private person like a closed book meant no one saw it coming, which hurt because I thought people could see my struggles and ask me if I was OK, but it didn't happen.
Being a professional golfer or sportsman has made it difficult to be myself because of what the reaction might be. I’ve heard it plenty of times, people say "why does he feel bad he’s got a good life", but I worked for many years to make it seem that way, and always find it difficult to open up about the truth. This led to my biggest flaw, which is lying. I became so used to telling people what they wanted to hear that it filtered into my personal life, which ruined a lot of friendships and damaged my family. The thought of being honest after lying so much was difficult – I knew it would hurt the one closest to me, revealing the battle that I fight against my urges, every day. One day there will be complete honesty or I will have done so much damage there will be no one left.
What I hear a lot even now in this day and age is that you have to be a man and deal with things like a man. It’s so ridiculous that because you’re in the public eye you have to deal with these issues privately. I’ve found that sharing my feelings and my illness and my illness on social media and more importantly to family and friends has opened me up and shown me how much people care and want to help. Even people just wanting to catch up for a chat have made me feel that I am not alone. It doesn't deal with my depression, but it gives me some hope that with the right support I can eventually get my life back on track.
Around my last suicide attempt, I had one mate who was there for me. He is the only mate I truly trust and will open up to. He didn't judge me in any way, but just wanted to be there for me and make sure I was OK. No one has ever done that for me. I can’t even begin to thank him enough.
I guess a big part of why I wrote this blog is to show that your attitude matters. When my friend found me during my suicide attempt he treated me normally and with concern and his only words where “are you ok mate” to hear those 4 words meant everything to me. I assumed everyone would be disgusted at what I had done and because I am a man I would be ok and just get on with it. To hear those 4 words showed me that at least someone cared and understood I was in crisis.