Express News Service
KOCHI:"Before I realised what I was going through, things got really bad and I started considering suicide as an option. For a whole year, the idea of suicide was a very real option for me. I had thoughts of jumping out of the balcony." Chilling words, of Robin Uthappa.
The 34-year-old batsman is talking about what he went through between 2009-2012 when he experienced severe mental struggle. His disclosure takes added significance in the light of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's alleged suicide which caused nationwide shock.
The T20 World Cup winner cites his own example to explain that mental illness does not distinguish between the rich and poor or other divisions.
"At the point when I was depressed, I was earning the most amount of money in my career. I was the captain of Karnataka's Ranji Trophy team and playing for RCB. But you can't notice when this thing secretly climbs up on you," he adds.
Uthappa chose to confide in a close relative who helped him get the necessary assistance. He also admitted that cricket was a good distraction, but added that there was no support system within the sport when he was grappling these thoughts.
"There wasn't necessarily a support system within the cricketing set-up. I never spoke about this with my teammates. The sport can make you feel mentally tired because you are travelling and living out of a suitcase for 250-300 days a year. That can get to you mentally, but the trigger could be anything. It is important to recognise it and seek help," he says.
Pacer Mohammed Shami had also recently opened up on having suicidal thoughts, while Australian cricketer Glen Maxwell took a break from cricket to address mental health issues.
Uthappa believes teams having sports psychologists and mental conditioning coaches will go a long way in helping avoid such dangerous thoughts.
"Having a mental health expert on board will be great for sportspersons because they will know there is somebody to talk to. If they can smoothly integrate that into the team chemistry, it would be wonderful," he adds.
Sushant's death has sparked a dialogue on mental health and Uthappa hopes his experience makes people wait before taking their lives.
"I decided to reveal my struggles to raise awareness. When I was considering jumping off the balcony or ending my life, something within me kept telling me to wait. The voice didn't tell me to stop. The voice just said 'wait' and I listened.
"I want people to know that you can actually come back from such a state and live a happy life. That's why I talk about it because everybody deserves a good and happy life. It is important to break the stigma attached to mental health and depression or going to a psychiatrist. There is no shame in seeking help," says Uthappa.
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