Paul Merson and Chris Kirkland have both opened up on their personal experiences with depression, emphasizing the importance of discussing the problem with others.

By 90Min
November 08, 2017

Former midland stars Paul Merson and Chris Kirkland have both opened up on their personal experiences with depression, while offering words of advice to those in the game and outside of it who may be battling similar issues.

Merson, a former midfielder best known for his time at Arsenal, suffered with mental health issues as a player and notes that it could happen to anyone, regardless of social status or the size of their bank account.

“Some people may think they’re depressed because they haven’t got any money, but that’s not the case because you can have millions and it doesn’t matter," he said on Sky Sports' The Debate. “I was in treatment with Oscar winners, so it doesn’t matter who you are.

“It is so important to talk, I can’t emphasize it enough but it is the hardest thing to do as well.

"Every now and then, you get this horrible thing in your head that says ‘don’t ring so and so, they’re probably having dinner or are in the bath’, and your brain will always make an excuse. We need to talk more.

“In those days, you’re thinking ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me, how can I be like this? I’m playing the best sport in the world, I’ve got the best job in the world, I play for one of the best clubs in Europe, I’m earning good money and I’m like this. It can’t be right.’

“You’re embarrassed to tell someone because they would have just said ‘pull yourself together’. It was horrible and it has a vicious way of working where it drags you in to be alone."

Kirkland, who played as a goalkeeper for the likes of Liverpool, Wigan and West Brom, also suffered from depression and anxiety. He claims to still have problems with the latter, but has been doing just about enough to keep himself occupied.

“My wife didn’t know the extent because I hid a lot of it, not through shame, but just because I was scared,” Kirkland said.

“I didn’t really know what was happening and it just takes over you. You can be sitting there and all of a sudden, it can be like someone else has entered your body and you know what’s happening, but you just can’t stop it.

“I don’t like being on my own anymore. For six months, I never went out of the house. I didn’t answer phone calls or texts, something just takes over you but now, if I feel that way, I’ll take the dog out for an hour or go to the gym, I’ve started my own goalkeeping academy up because I need to keep occupied.

“I still have anxiety but I’ve been seeing a lady up in Manchester and she’s given me coping mechanisms for that so I can see a way now of battling it whereas before, you’re trapped in this vicious circle and it’s the worst thing ever."

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