Growing up I had a privileged upbringing, parents/grandparents that would do anything to help me achieve what I wanted and for this I can’t thank them enough.
I was lucky. I was a natural at most things, picked up new skills/traits easily and managed to breeze through a lot without trying.
Sport was always at the forefront; football in the early years before quickly moving onto cricket. I was always a high achiever in these sports, playing football for Huddersfield Town’s academy, cricket for Huddersfield Cricket Club, Yorkshire County Cricket Club and my school, Broad Oak senior team at twelve years old. I achieved a lot and I’m forever grateful.
I never really saw myself as a superstar or someone who was good at it if I’m being honest. That came naturally through the rise I had. Granted, I always wanted to be the best I could be but most of all through the ages I wanted to score goals, make runs and take wickets.
Once you achieve some sort of status within your chosen professional game, the environment you’re in becomes aware of who you are. This changed my view of myself. It created a mind-set in which every time I did something I had to be almost perfect, whether in sport or in other avenues in later life either in work or otherwise.
Once the pressure rose, the thought process of myself changed. I would constantly question every decision, every mistake I made and every good time I enjoyed that, in my head at the time I thought I could have spent improving myself instead. I stopped seeing the good and I only focused on the negatives.
As many people are aware I had a lot of great times in cricket. I achieved more than I could have hoped and dreamed of but to me this was never enough!
Instead of appreciating my achievements for what they were, I believed I under-achieved. I viewed myself as a failure, told myself that I hadn’t done enough, not gotten to a level where I should have reached, failed myself my family, my friends and everyone!
I tried to counter-act these negative thoughts by throwing myself into university, achieving a Degree in Sports Science.
However, upon completing my degree, through my eyes, I believed I had nothing. I was living at home, with no job, having let my goal of becoming a professional cricketer fall by the way-side, with nowhere to go and my dreams shattered…I considered myself a failure.
This is when the depressive thoughts kicked in. it overcame me like a thunder storm. I was trapped, fighting myself every day. I felt tired, angry and hurt. I was lost.
All I could think of was the negatives, the failed life plan and false, perceived notions that I had let everyone down. What was I supposed to do? I fucked up right? The superstar everyone thought I was going to be didn’t turn out that way. What was I now? What was my identity? I believed I was a nobody! A failed person.
I hated myself for it. How could I live with this imagined guilt in my head that I had let these people down? What can I do?
The worst aspect of all of this was the mental pain and anguish. I was crying, breaking down in shops and walking around my local area. Just being outside caused me to teeter on the edge emotionally. To be blunt, I was a mess.
This is when I tried it. Physical pain. I couldn’t bare it any longer. In my mind I thought inflicting physical pain on myself would take the mental pain away, at least temporarily to give me some respite from it all.
I punched a wall, breaking my hand in the process. However, all this did was make it all worse! I was now mentally and physically struggling.
I reached breaking point and had serious suicidal thoughts; “Why should I be here?” I thought to myself, “What’s the point anymore?”. I would get in my car and just think of driving through walls and off roads.
If it wasn’t for my family, I wouldn’t be here.
Since I started my road to recovery I have had periods of relapse like many people do. I’ve self-harmed and contemplated suicide on a number of occasions. My arms have scars surrounding them and show the physical pain I inflicted upon myself to try and do something to distract myself from the mental pain I was going through.
Over a period of a few years the best way to describe my mental state has been ‘on and off’. For while I think I’d wrestled control over my mental health issues but then it would spark up again.
The Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) have been instrumental in helping me and I can’t thank them enough. A local GP has also been vital to me and has helped me through my toughest periods.
I still have down moments. If things seem wrong or I make mistakes I am extremely hard on myself. I just want to be perfect, yes this is impossible! But to me it sometimes feels it isn’t.
This has had an impact on everything I do in life. The smallest mistake or annoying thing amplifies these feelings and I can’t stop it! In work I find these feelings pervade especially strongly. I just want to do everything right and make a positive impression, showing people I am capable and can do what is asked of me.
It’s an ongoing battle and I still have bad times but I am finding ways to cope with my mental health issues.
Admitting I had a problem was always the hardest thing. I went to the doctors and said “I’m struggling”, they diagnosed me and sent me away with medication to treat my mental health issues in the form of tablets. I took them and thought, “right, I’m fine now, sweet.”
I never really admitted that I was in a very bad mental state until a few years later.
I self-harmed very badly on one occasion and my mum/dad found me. The pain on their faces and how scared they were hit a nerve. It was the kick up the arse I needed. It made me realise that I am loved and I have to find a way through this.
I went back to the doctors and also for the first time spoke with the PCA.
I was assigned a councillor which I see monthly and receive medication from the doctor which, over a year has been adapted to my mental health needs.
The best advice I could give to anyone who is struggling is to speak out. I was ashamed at being a twenty-something year old bloke who’s lived a life of luxury, playing professional sport, ‘having it all’ in some people’s eyes and had depression. I felt like I couldn’t admit that, why?
I contemplated for months and months until finally, I sat down and wrote a social media post.
I was scared, what reception I would get? I had already pushed myself away from everyone, what would happen now?
Honestly, without doing that I don’t know how I’d have got through. The reception and support I received from it I am eternally grateful for. My cricket club friends, people I grew up with and members of the public rallied round and gave me a lift to push me on my journey. It is true when they say talking is the best medicine! I can’t deny it. It bloody works!
Seeing a councillor has showed me that I can talk openly. He provides a safe place to let it all out whatever the reason and I won’t be judged for it.
The way he helps me to view things is something I’m taking into my life right now and I’m trying the techniques within everything I do.
Going running and walking the dog are two methods I’ve found which help me control and improve my mental health. They allow me to switch off and just let my mind be at peace with itself.
My methods are different to other people but we all have our own ways to help us get through difficult times in our lives. I still struggle every now and then like anyone does but now I have things in place to help.
This is a little snippet of my struggles and the steps I’ve taken to improve my mental health. I would love the opportunity to share my story with others and help whoever needs it, through their own tough times.
If anyone ever needs any help please get in touch.
Charlie Roebuck is the Disability Community Cricket Officer for the Yorkshire Cricket Board and former player for Yorkshire Cricket Club.
You can follow Charlie on Twitter.
For more articles like this, check out our experiences section.