Rathbone reveals battle with depression
February 2, 2012
Former Brumbies star Clyde Rathbone has gone public with his battle with depression © Getty Images
Former Wallabies international Clyde Rathbone has revealed he suffered from depression throughout his rugby career.
The 30-year-old, whose 26-Test cap career was ended by injury in 2009, has gone public with his battle in a bid to help other players who may be suffering like he did during a playing career that included U21 World Cup glory with South Africa in 2002 and spells with The Sharks and The Brumbies.
"This is an opportunity to make something good out of a bad situation... I just thought it was now or never," Rathbone told the Canberra Times. "Hearing something like this when I was going through it may have helped me. The message is that depression is not just survivable and the goal should never be just to survive, you should be thriving."
In a powerful blog post, Rathbone revealed that his marriage began to fail and he shut himself off from the world before eventually seeking professional help.
"Anyone who met me would think I was completely normal," Rathbone said. "And I maintained that fictitious existence for years. [Forced retirement] was a catalyst for a flood of negative thoughts I had pushed to the background, many I had for years slowly began coming back... I slipped further and further into depression until I was chronically and severely depressed. I began having suicidal thoughts."
Rathbone, who grew up in South Africa before moving to Canberra where he lives today, has no doubt his depression impacted on his form during his playing days. "There's no question that my depression affected my performance," Rathbone said. "There is no question that I would have played better, been more successful in rugby if I wasn't depressed. I know that, because I wasn't enjoying it."
But he is glad that his decision to share his story is already having a positive impact. "I had a teammate text me and say they've had depression for seven years," he said. "This has reinforced what I've known - that depression is everywhere, but it's hidden, it's under the radar."
Rathbone has since been overwhelmed with support and hopes to channel that energy. ''I've been blown away by the support. It's been fantastic, it's been draining, but I can't believe what people are willing to share and you feel energised by it,'' Rathbone said.
''I need to develop a way to keep the momentum kicking along because the awareness will fade away within a day or two but the people that need help don't stop needing help when the story's not hot. It's been good to get it out there, people just need to be confronted and talk about it. It's never as hard as you think... you have to keep doing things that are uncomfortable and scare you.''
Current Brumbies coach Jake White, who took charge of the Baby Boks triumph 10 years ago, plans to invite Rathbone to share his experiences with the current squad. ''There's no book that teaches what Clyde went through,'' White said. ''I will ask Clyde to come and hand out the jerseys at one of our games and talk to them about how lucky they are to play. 'He now appreciates what he had when he was 27 years old... some young boys think it will last forever but they don't know how quickly it can go.''
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