Very proud of our story in this week’s Grazia. Statistics state that the stigma of talking about mental health still keeps many of us from opening up to our families for over a year. That’s over a year, suffering in silence. But recent statistics also indicate that mental health problems like depression are even more rife in sportsmen, thought to be the combined pressure of feeling that having any emotional problems isn’t seen as ‘manly’ and being under immense expectation to perform to their peak week in, week out.
Sadly, cases of sportsmen driven to attempt suicide are on the rise and most recently footballer Clarke Carlisle attempted to take his own life following a serious depressive episode.
For Grazia magazine we interviewed Roseanne and Brett, who had been through sadly similar circumstances themselves just two years ago. Brett is a professional rugby player and mounting pressures led him to feel he had no choice but to attempt suicide. He survived and has since flourished, accepting help from his wife and a councillor, Brett now speaks openly about his mental health and has encouraged many other players to vocalise their troubles.
If you or someone you love in the sporting world is experiencing mental health problems, please visit www.sportingchanceclinic.com
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Roseanne and Brett for their honesty and desire to publicise their story in order to help anyone else going through a similar time. Please do buy this week’s Grazia to read their story in full.
To the outside world, Roseanne had it all – the jet-set lifestyle, the rugby star husband… But beneath the surface, all was not well…
Roseanne, 32, explains:
I met Brett back in Australia when I was 20 and he was 16. He told me he was 21 and an electrician. Little did I know then that he’d just signed a deal to be a star player at a rugby league club.
We’d drive two hours each way just to see each other after work.
By the time Brett told me the truth about his age and his job, I was already in love.
We had to grow up quickly – Brett’s career demanded it.
The older players would expect him to go out drinking. Wild antics were normal.
We had more money than we knew what to do with and we travelled the world, moving whenever Brett got re-signed. Giving a young man that much money was always going to spell trouble.
Brett didn’t want to go out partying with his team mates – he was an animal lover and we wanted to look after rescued animals. We had 18 baby magpies at one point.
But he bowed to peer pressure. They’d make fun of him if he didn’t go out drinking. I lost count of the amount of times I’d pick Brett up from a nightclub, women throwing themselves at him in front of me, pushing past me to get to him.
We started trying for a baby but for years, nothing happened.
We’d been engaged since the beginning but it took us till October 2011 to get around to it.
When we wed, we went all out. I wore a necklace worth thousands of pounds, we arrived in a bright yellow stretched hummer. No expense was spared.
Seven days later, Brett was caught drink driving. The press had a field day. ‘Newly wed star drink drives!’ It was humiliating.
Then we moved to the UK. We loved it here and finally had our daughter, Monroe, in May last year.
In March this year, Brett came home saying he’d performed terribly on the pitch. I told him it didn’t matter but he really beat himself up over it.
The next night, he played with Monroe, the doting father he always was.
We had dinner together, Brett eating just as much as he always did. I had no reason to suspect anything untoward was going on.
I went to bed. A few hours later, I was awoken by police at my door.
I didn’t even know Brett wasn’t downstairs watching TV.
‘Brett’s been in a car accident. He was attempting suicide,’ they said.
I fell to my knees. Rushing to his side in hospital, I tried to understand how I could have missed the signs.
‘I wanted to end it. It was all I could think about,’ he was crying like I’d never seen before.
‘But what about Monroe? What about us?’ I asked. Brett said he just hadn’t thought about us.
Brett had crashed on purpose. He’d been drinking, he’d overdosed on sleeping tablets then tried to drive his car off a bridge.
He’d crashed into two parked cars.
Brett and I had been together 12 years, I thought I knew him inside out. How had I not realised he was so depressed?
Brett started having therapy. It was only then that he started to talk. He was given anti-depressants and his sparkle slowly came back.
I call depression the silent killer. If you break your leg, you fix it. But when your mind is broken, you ignore it – sometimes till it’s too late.
Brett has learned not to bottle up his emotions now. As a man it was all about never showing weakness. Now he’s accepted it’s okay to ask for help.
People presume because we had money and a fancy lifestyle, Brett had nothing to be depressed about – I thought that too. I’ve learned the hard way that there’s a lot more to depression than that.