Sunday 17 December 2017

'I had to practice being positive' - Munster scrum-half opens up about mental health issues

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Munster scrum-half Cathal Sheridan might not be the province's best known player but his decision to talk openly about his mental well-being should still have a far-reaching impact.

This week has done a lot to dispel the myth that rugby is a sport solely played by macho brutes - with Ireland internationals Jack McGrath and Hannah Tyrrell both speaking out about their mental health issues.

Sheridan is the latest player to open up, and he gives an eye-opening look into just how tough it can be for a professional player to deal with a long-term injury. After breaking his forearm in 2014, the scrum-half was ruled out for a significant period and it took a hefty mental toll on the 27-year-old.

In the latest IRUPA 'Tackle Your Feelings' video, Sheridan describes the internal anguish he suffered as he gradually withdrew from activities and passions that he usually loved.

"I broke my arm and following that there was a period of my life where I didn't enjoy being a professional rugby player," Sheridan said.

"I had been injured plenty of times before this instance, many much more serious and more long term, but I had always managed to deal very effectively with the challenges that go hand in hand with injuries. At the time I didn't even understand the effect it was having on me. Not only was I not enjoying being a rugby player, I wasn't really enjoying anything I was doing. It was only after a close friend questioned my behaviours that I realised I had been isolating myself, falling into bad habits and even blaming rugby for my frustration.

"Now I am a lot quicker to notice when something is wrong and I take action straight away.  I'm delighted to support the Tackle Your Feelings campaign - I'd encourage everyone to keep the lines of communication open and try not to isolate yourself during difficult periods. When something bad happens, it's normal to feel upset. If you're sad, feel sad, then go and do something about it".

Watch the full video here:

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