Wednesday 16 October 2019

'I never liked who I was. It got to the point where I didn't care if I died' - Ex-Ireland prop Rodney Ah You

Rodney Ah You during his time playing for Ireland in 2014. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rodney Ah You during his time playing for Ireland in 2014. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Ireland prop Rodney Ah You has revealed the mental health battle he fought early in his rugby career that saw him almost take his own life.

The 30-year-old, who was capped for Ireland three times in 2014 while playing for Connacht, spent eight seasons playing for the western province and Ulster, before joining Newcastle Falcons in 2018.

However, when he was a young player in New Zealand, Ah You struggled with his self-esteem. Speaking in a short film about his life, Tamāloa, the prop says that a difficult relationship with his father contributed to his feelings of depression.

The Wellington-native was particularly hard on himself when it came to evaluating his on-field performance, which his dad was also critical of.

"All those bad moments with my dad after rugby, I just bottled it all up," he said.

"I didn't realise how negative I was. It was always like, 'that was a s**t game'. The whole time, I just never liked who I was. It got to the point when I was 21 where I didn't care if I died. I got pretty bad during the night sometimes. [Thinking] If I just take a big truck and smash into a car, that will be me done."

Things reaching a tipping point after he sent his wife Bella a text message saying goodbye. Thankfully, she alerted some friends and Ah You was taken to hospital just in time.

"She called my flat-mates to check up on me," Ah You said.

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"They asked what I was doing. They were the ones who took me to the hospital. The whole time I said, just don't take me there. The doctor said it was a good thing that I came when I did, any longer and I would have been dead."

Ah You subsequently sought help from a mental health expert and was able to turn a corner, going on to have five children with his wife as well as becoming a full Ireland international.

"It took a while for me to open up to a psychiatrist," he says.

"The first session was just an awkward silence. After a few months, it was like letting go in a way. It gave me knew ways to re-train my mind. I told the squad I was suffering with depression. It took years, but now I can say I'm a good person. I like myself now."

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