Throughout my professional career I never really fully understood the issues surrounding mental health until I became affected. Playing rugby for over 17 years was a privilege and something I never took for granted. I felt as if I had been chosen, one of the lucky ones and I knew one day it would have to come to a stop. We all say that we are ready to stop, but who are we kidding? To play a sport 90% of the population do for a hobby professionally is something to be very proud of and becomes part of your DNA.
There are many ways that sportsmen and women retire and none of them are easy for the individual involved. Being told I was not being kept on as a player and wanting me to transition into a coaching role was easier said than done at the time. The stresses and strains, not only on me but my family, started to take their toll a few months down the line. I had no sense of direction, felt like I had lost my identity and purpose in life. As all good men do, I bottled it all up and put on a brave face everyday. There is certainly an art to acting like you are coping that’s for sure but deep down there was a real struggle.
This became easier once I came to terms with and decided to deal with the situation. Speaking to someone independent who could listen to your problems and allowing you to vent without judgement was a godsend and something I would highly recommend. This gave me the ability to find direction, clear the fog that misted my eyes daily and slowly I gained a sense of purpose. Transition is something that is continual in all walks of life and I am eager to promote the awareness of mental health.
By promoting and supporting men’s mental health, MESOA can change the way us men get up in the morning and attack the day. This will give us a purpose and an identity to help take life by the scruff of the neck!
Thank you, MESOA, for everything you stand for!