Former England Cricket captain Freddie Flintoff made comments on the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! about how he has cut out drinking to help with his depression.
He said: “I genuinely thought I’d had enough of it. It catches up with me in the morning… I suffer with depression and it doesn’t help at all. I just hit rock bottom afterwards. So you’re far better without it.” He added: “You try and drink to change how you feel, it’s just a bad [thing]. Life’s so much easier with not having any. The things that tend to go wrong are drink-fuelled.”
Flintoff retired from professional cricket in September 2010 but came out of retirement last year to play for Lancashire in the T20 Blast. He has been in Australia for the past few months playing for Brisbane Heat in the Twenty20 Big Bash. He is now in South Africa, where I’m A Celebrity Australia is filmed.
In 2012 Flintoff presented a documentary called The Hidden Side of Sport which featured boxer Ricky Hatton, former footballer Vinnie Jones and snooker player Graham Dott revealing more about their depression and its effects on their careers.
Flintoff explained this helped him to identify that he was suffering from depression. He said: “I never knew what it was and I’ve always never said anything. And then speaking to other people I identified with how I felt, and I could sort it out, treat it. I couldn’t expect my mates to talk if I wasn’t going to say anything about it.”
While playing cricket, Flintoff seemed to be a confident character, but only realised this may have been hiding underlying feelings after finding out he suffered from depression. He said: “I don’t think there was one moment [I realised I had depression]. It was when I spoke to people, you’d talk about their experiences and how they felt. And I’d say, ‘That’s exactly how I felt or can feel.’
“You know when you feel a little bit down, you physically can’t get up. Or you can’t get off your bed. It’s hard to explain, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders – fear, guilt, all sorts – for no apparent reason.”
Flintoff’s depression when combined with drinking was not without its consequences during his career. He was removed as England vice-captain in 2007 and banned for one game after he got drunk and took a pedal boat out to sea after a World Cup defeat in St Lucia. He was also disciplined in 2009 for missing the team bus for a visit to World War I sites in Belgium the night after a squad dinner.
Flintoff now has a different approach when he feels down. He said: “I see it now like, if I have a bad ear, I’ll see a doctor. If I get an injury I’ll see a physio. If I’m struggling with my head, I’ll see someone.”
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Depression can effect people differently, but here are some of the most common indications:
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness that last a long time
- Loss of interest, even in things you usually enjoy
- Feelings of anxiety
- Feeling constantly tired and sleeping badly
- A change in appetite leading to weight loss or weight gain
- Loss of interest in friends, family or work
- Loss of self-confidence and feelings of worthlessness
Although sometimes there is a trigger for depression, such as bereavement, losing your job or even having a baby, you can become depressed for no obvious reason.
If you feel as though you are depressed there are a few ways to help:
- Talk to someone you trust, like a family member or close friend
- Eat healthy foods
- Quit alcohol, drugs and cigarettes to detox the mind
- See your GP who will have lots of advice. They might also recommend you see a counsellor or therapist.
Being depressed is nothing to be ashamed of and you should not be afraid to talk to someone about it. It could be the first stage to getting your life back on track.