They say ‘your health is your wealth’, but most importantly for many sportsmen and women it’s your mental health that is your wealth.
Mental health in sport is so often overlooked and often an athlete may be left with feelings of loneliness and abandonment, unsure of where to turn.
For one League of Ireland footballer the battle with depression affected his ability to function, especially during his time in college.
Cabinteely defender Conor Keeley 20, spoke to me recently about it.
“For the majority of my life I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression, To this day it’s a constant daily battle. It has held me back with football, school, college and many other things in life.”
“I struggled with it my first time attempting first year in college, after failing all my semester 1 exams. When I opened up the results I began to panic instantly and got myself into a really bad state mentally, telling myself I wasn’t good enough and that I’d never be capable of doing a degree, which was a scary thought at the time, but of course it wasn’t true.”
“With my anxiety for the last decade I nearly always put these bad scenarios in my head which causes me to have massive panic attacks, even though the scenarios I think of are ridiculous looking back on them but I could never help it, whereas nowadays I know how to cope and deal with it better.”
What did you do, or who did you turn to for help?
“I turned to many councillors and even a hypnotherapist to help me, which over time has helped me a lot. My parents and family have been so supportive throughout all the years while I was suffering which I am truly grateful for.”
Keeley also spoke about his ongoing battle with depression in a video for Aware’s 10 in 10 which you can view here;
Keeley eventually returned to college, and last week posted on Twitter that he’d passed his repeat exams
Two years ago being in a bad place and dropping out of college was tough to take, but going back to it this year and passing my repeats today is such a relief couldn’t be happier 🙌🏻📚
— Conor Keeley (@ConorKeeley97) September 10, 2018
He also explained that he had another reason for returning to college, “Coming back to college this year was the best decision I ever made. Football helped with this massively too, knowing that an opportunity to represent your country through the college was a massive factor in returning.”
“Passing my exams was obviously the main priority but the college also helped show me that I had a chance to play for the Irish Universities team which was a massive honour to try and aim for and luckily enough the hard work paid off and I got my first call up. I owe the people around me in the college a massive thank you for helping me achieve that.”
What would Conor say to any young person who finds themselves in a similar position to him?
“What I would say to people in my situation is that there is always people out there who want to listen. No matter how big or small the situation is, or how bad that you’re feeling, please talk because it can make you feel so much better, knowing you’ve someone to talk to about what problems you’re going through.”
“I know from my experience how hard it is but it’s always key to try to remain as positive as possible but the main thing is to make sure you talk.”
Picture Credit: Paul Lundy