Leicester Tigers prop Greg Bateman took to social media recently to share a personal message about his struggles with depression over the past two years.
The 30-year-old described how he was at the end of his medication after “wrestling with my mental health, anxiety and particularly around struggling to sleep and pretty dark moods (depression)” over the past 18 to 24 months.
Bateman was commendably very candid in the post, giving a vivid insight into what he was going through and openly shared his experiences.
He said: “At my worst, I found myself finding tasks needing to use up my anxious energy – like painting my garden fence at 4am and planning, reading books, listening to podcasts, writing lists, etc. Then, take more sleepers, another drink or anything so I wasn’t staring at my bedroom ceiling in the dark.”
However, he also said that he hopes if “this helps just one person if they feel like they’re struggling”, it would be “worthwhile”.
View this post on Instagram
Here goes! (1/3) Today is the last day of my medication I’ve been taking for 6 months. I’ve not said anything about this ‘out there’ before but really hope this helps just one person if they feel like they’re struggling. For the last 18-24 months, after a series of fairly shit life events, I’d been wrestling with my mental health, anxiety and particularly around struggling to sleep and pretty dark moods (depression) – amidst some fairly average other goings on. So, in Jan 19, I decided I needed to get some help to level me out. I tried talk therapy, copious amounts of alcohol and probably too many opioid based drugs to be healthy. So, pretty much at a loss I needed something to get me to sleep so I could start tackling things a bit more naturally. I probably didn’t realise at that time what I was actually doing by taking medication was ‘taking control’ of what felt like a pretty uncontrollable situation. I felt I needed to do something so I could put the bullshit to bed forever and try and perform and live my life with the intent and energy I wanted to. Through time I’ve learned this isn’t like physical ailments where you just get better straight away, you’re effectively learning self-awareness. For me I needed a mix of talk therapy and medication to start levelling me out. I actually found I’ve had these issues or felt like this for a long time. At my worst, I found myself finding tasks needing to use up my anxious energy – like painting my garden fence at 04:00 am and planning, reading books, listening to podcasts, writing lists, etc. Then, take more sleepers, another drink or anything so I wasn’t staring at my bedroom ceiling in the dark, half asleep from whatever sleeping aid I’d tried to get myself off. To be honest, the first two weeks on the meds was horrific. I was sleeping well but had pressure in my head and migraines, my ears would ring constantly and sharp sounds would physically hurt – which is not ideal when you’re trying to train and play rugby. Today is the last day of a six month block and whilst on holiday with my partner I made a few observations which, if by sharing, can helps one person then my struggle has been worthwhile.
Bateman’s openness should further help break down the barrier of what is a fairly taboo subject in sport. Mental health is often not addressed in the rugby world but has been discussed more and more in recent years.
In fact, some feel that mental health should be treated and approached in the same way that physical injuries are treated in rugby. However, there are still a lot of players that remain silent on such issues.
England prop Joe Marler was another player over the past year to come out and talk about the pressures of professional rugby, particularly international rugby, and the mental strain that he was put under. Marler himself showed his support for Batemen on Twitter, as he is surely someone that can empathise.
Thanks mate ??
Alongside Marler, former players Ugo Monye and Christian Day also showed their support on Twitter. Day is the player liaison officer for the Rugby Players’ Association, so the welfare of players is a priority of his. He said that Bateman’s transparency “will no doubt help many others to understand their challenges”.
Sharing this will no doubt help many others to understand their challenges. Glad you are feeling better.
— Christian Day (@christianday) June 29, 2019
Glad you’re feeling better mate. Good on you for sharing x
— ugo monye (@ugomonye) June 29, 2019
One thing the rugby world prides itself on is its inclusivity and supportive nature – and that can be seen by the reaction on social media to Bateman’s post.
The player himself even noted that he has not said much about this, but it is something that can have a massive impact in the rugby and sporting world.
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