5 live Sport Special: Depression in Cricket
In the last seven months, I've been involved in two 5 live programmes on depression in sport - they've been probably the most revealing and moving pieces of broadcasting I've had the privilege to be part of.
Back in November, we told the story of Robert Enke, the German goalkeeper who committed suicide while in the grip of that terrible illness. And this week, I was in the studio as Marcus Trescothick opened his heart about the devastating effect depression has had on him.
Marcus was the key guest in a programme hosted by his former England team-mate and captain, Michael Vaughan. We also heard interviews recorded by Michael with Matthew Hoggard, who went through a desperately low time while on tour in New Zealand in 2008, and with the brother of former Nottinghamshire cricketer Mark Saxelby, who took his own life by ingesting weedkiller in 2000.
Cricket throws up very specific challenges to those with a tendency to depression - the long periods away from home, whether you're an international cricketer or on the county circuit; the many opportunities for introspection when you're sitting around in the dressing room waiting to bat or standing around in the field; the fact that your performance is measured by the stark statistics of batting and bowling averages.
But of course it's not confined to cricket.
Former All Black great John Kirwan told Michael how he'd suffered from the illness, and is campaigning for greater openness about it in his native New Zealand. And we heard from Clarke Carlisle about the Professional Footballers Association's new publication designed to help young players going through periods of mental stress.
Many things struck me during the two hours of the programme.
Most forcefully, the stark fact that depression makes no distinction for status and income. Like cancer, heart disease or any critical illness, it can affect people in any profession; from High Court Judges to council workers, from super-fit sportsmen at the peak of their careers, to teachers, journalists, or students.
But also that we seem to be gradually breaking down the misunderstanding and stigma that surrounds mental illness in sport.
When Frank Bruno was hospitalised in 2003, while suffering a bleak depressive period, the Sun headline notoriously read "Bonkers Bruno Locked Up".
After I wrote a piece for the BBC website about Robert Enke last November, some of the responses were dismissive of his problems - how, they asked, could a man on the brink of representing his country at a World Cup, with the privileges of a professional footballer, be depressed?
And when Michael Yardy came home from the Cricket World Cup last March, Geoffrey Boycott caused a storm when he joked on 5 live Breakfast that Yardy's depression might have been caused by Boycott's criticism of his bowling.
Trescothick told us that he'd been "very, very angry" when he heard Boycott's comments. Vaughan has recommended that his TMS colleague listens back to the programme to gain a greater insight into a subject which he clearly knew little about.
And we were inundated with emails, texts and tweets from listeners, many of them thanking Marcus for his honesty - and some from people who had, for the first time, realised that they were suffering from the same thing.
One 45-year-old man texted to say he was listening in tears, while walking his dog. He'd recognised that the symptoms Marcus was describing fitted exactly with his own.
Others told us that Marcus's bravery in dealing with his depression had given them the courage to seek treatment themselves.
It's a rare and humbling experience to know that a radio programme is having such a direct impact.
Marcus Trescothick was already a hero to many for his cricketing feats for Somerset and England. But his choice to be so public about his private problems might save lives - and that's heroism on a whole different level.
Eleanor Oldroyd is one of the presenters of 5 live Sport