Clarke Carlisle believes he has “evidence” that those suffering from depression can overcome any obstacle after new figures backed his claim negative mental health is rampant in football.
The former Premier League defender was on the verge of death during a string of suicide attempts, including being hit by a truck in 2014, but now he feels “the best he’s ever been”.
Data released Monday by the Professional Footballers’ Association to mark World Mental Health Day showed nearly 10 percent of top and EFL players surveyed last season had experienced bullying, while nearly five percent had suicidal thoughts.
Carlisle, who was PFA chairman between 2010 and 2013, urged the football industry to “open its doors” to broader mental health management strategies and advised those affected that there is always a path to recovery.
“We tend to think that just because they’re sports professionals, they’re immune to these kinds of workplace issues, but they’re not,” he told the PA news agency.
“Pro footballers are more likely to experience workplace bullying because there’s still a ‘break you to make you’ mentality.
“Mental disorders are very common in football and I think they really need to open their doors to broader coping strategies and mechanisms within the industry. There is no universal answer.
“Going through these stages in my life has mixed feelings when I think about it from time to time. But the most striking thing is that I was literally on the brink of death.
“And now here I am today as good as I’ve ever been, so far from there and it’s no coincidence. This was deliberately hard work, with the professionals there using the medication I needed.
“This is a message I want to convey to others: It doesn’t matter how far down the negative mental health spectrum you were or are, there is a way back. Not just to some kind of normalcy, but there is a way back to consistent well-being.
“I am positive proof, proof in the flesh, that wellness is an inevitability, not just a possibility if you work at it.”
Carlisle, whose career has spanned stints at Blackpool, QPR, Leeds, Watford and Burnley, was diagnosed with depression in 2010 but with hindsight believes there were signs of it in childhood.
The 42-year-old described a depressive episode as his world narrowing until he felt trapped in a “little bubble of consciousness” in which his mind was “running at a hundred miles an hour” before his brain finally shutting down, which often to days led bed.
His escape mechanisms ranged from relentlessly playing computer games such as Football Manager and Candy Crush to prolonged periods of alcohol abuse during which he drank to “blackout”.
“It was anything just to get away from these millions of thoughts going through my head every second that were incredibly negative and defeatist and that I didn’t share with a single person,” Carlisle said ahead of his speech at the MAD World Summit. an event dedicated to wellbeing and health at work.
“There was no release valve. In my mind, I was my own attorney, judge, and jury, and inevitably those thoughts ended in self-annihilation: I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I’m stealing oxygen, I’m embarrassing my kids, I’m embarrassing for my parents, all these things were negative and overly critical of me.
“I’m proud of how well I’m doing today, but at the same time there are feelings of sadness, tinged with some shame and regret for what I’ve done to my family.”
Carlisle, a former England Under-21 international, spent six weeks in a psychiatric ward after being hit by the truck eight years ago and has not felt actively suicidal since his temporary disappearance in 2017.
The father-of-five is comfortable being in the spotlight as a mental health advocate but believes footballers shouldn’t feel pressured to share their struggles publicly.
“Just because someone has negative mental health doesn’t mean they have to be like me and tell the world,” he said.
“The important thing is that they talk to someone. That doesn’t mean they have to tell everyone. My thoughts are primarily with the individual.
“We can’t avoid the fact that they are professional footballers, they are on a pedestal, their experiences and their words have a special weight that other industries don’t have.
“It’s great to have advocates encouraging the wider community to get the help they need, but I don’t think it should weigh on those who feel they have mental health issues because it’s just that aspect of the social.” and press interference that’s taken them up to that point.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/clarke-carlisle-premier-league-efl-pfa-carlisle-b2200265.html Clarke Carlisle ‘Proof Positive’ People Can Overcome Negative Mental Health