Monday 5 December 2016

'I just thought I could end it all now' - Jason McAteer bravely opens up about battle with depression on the Late Late Show

Sasha Brady

Published 01/10/2016 | 09:39

Jason McAteer on The Late Late Show
Jason McAteer on The Late Late Show

Jason McAteer has opened up about his battle with depression following his retirement from professional football.

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The former Irish international said he struggled with suicidal thoughts during his lowest moments and explained his "bad bout of depression" started when he retired from football and found himself without purpose.

"You go home and there's nothing there. You're not going in the next day, your friends aren't there," he told Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show.

"I got really messed up," he said.

The dad-of-one said he found it hard to adjust to his life without his career and found himself feeling lonely and detached.

"First of all when you finish playing it's at the end of the season so everything's fine. All the lads are on holiday so you go on holiday... and then you come back and they go back [to work] pre-season and then the season starts and you realise there's no football club and you haven't got it anymore.," he said.

"It became very, very difficult."

McAteer, who's expecting his second child with his wife Lucy, said it took him a while to recognise that he was suffering from depression.

"Depression takes a hold of you and you don't realise that you're in this world. You think it's the norm. You're doing things out of character, that your close friends or family would see.

"I got to a point where I was a real mess."

The former Liverpool midfielder said that he contemplated ending it all one day when he was driving to collect his son Harry from school.

"I remember one particular time I was driving through the Mersey tunnel to get Harry, pick him up from school. I just thought I could just end this all now... I could absolutely quit on everything."

5/10/2013. Story David Raleigh. The happy couple Jason McAteer and Lucy Edwards leave St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick on Saturday afterfoon following their wedding. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22
5/10/2013. Story David Raleigh. The happy couple Jason McAteer and Lucy Edwards leave St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick on Saturday afterfoon following their wedding. Picture Liam Burke/Press 22

"But then Harry's image came into my head. How would he take it? Or an oncoming car? Who would be in it? Would it be a mother or kids? What was the impact of that? Before I knew it I was at the end of the tunnel."

McAteer said that he drove to his mother's house later that night and confessed the true extent of his suffering to her and after "lots of tears" his mother encouraged him to see a therapist.

Speaking on the Late Late Show he struggled to hold back the tears as the memories of his struggle and the impact it had on his loved ones came flooding back but said he now feels "amazing".

The 45-year-old also had advice to offer anyone who is struggling with depression.

"You've got to admit it, you've got to tell yourself that you're a mess," he said.

"You've got to admit that otherwise it's not going to work. You've got to be honest with your therapist and tell them how it is. They'll guide you in the right way and they'll bring you through it and you come out the other side and you're stronger."

McAteer said that his wife Lucy, who he wed in 2013 at St Mary's Cathedral in Limerick, helped him through it and now they're looking forward to introducing their two-year-old son to his new brother or sister next year.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article, please www.samaritans.org or call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123 (ROI)

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