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Andy Morrison's biggest battle

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Chris Bevan | 15:43 UK time, Friday, 2 December 2011

I am halfway through my interview with Andy Morrison when I notice the mass of scars on his knuckles for the first time, testimony to the scrapes he was involved in during his colourful career.

"I had too many fights to put into my book," the former Manchester City, Huddersfield, Blackpool and Plymouth centre-back tells me of some of the brutal off-pitch tales which litter his new autobiography. "So I just mentioned the ones which helped shape my career for better or worse."

An unashamed bruiser he may be, but Morrison does not glorify his violent past. In any case, his biggest battles have been psychological, not physical.

In a week during which footballers' mental health has been in the spotlight following Gary Speed's death, Morrison's story, which was published last month, makes poignant reading.

Andy Morrison

Andy Morrison battled demons during and after his playing career. Photo: Getty Images

As a player, he battled alcoholism and, at his lowest ebb in 1999, which actually coincided with some of his best times on the field with City, he considered taking his own life before vowing instead to ditch the drink.

Morrison was the inspiration behind City's promotion that year from what is now League One - a time when this week's Champions League tie with Bayern Munich would have been unthinkable for his old club and one that seems light years away from their current status as mega-rich Premier League leaders. He has been on quite a journey himself.

"It's said that when you reach the pits of despair you turn within and ask for help," Morrison reflects. "I was on my hands and knees when I looked at the sky and said 'please can you help me, I cannot take any more of this pain'. Thankfully I got the support I needed from Alcoholics Anonymous and for almost 13 years I have not touched a drop."

But that was not the end of his problems. After injury curtailed his career in 2002 at the age of 32, Morrison faced financial ruin, while the chronic depression he has battled since hanging up his boots came because he missed the buzz of matchdays that had been part of his life since he was a young teenager.

"When you retire, there is a part of you where you keep a stiff upper lip," Morrison, now assistant manager at Evo-Stik League Premier Division side Northwich Victoria, explained over coffee in a leafy Cheshire village near his home.

"I was saying 'this is the next stage of my life, I'm going to be positive. I'm going to move on and get my coaching badges' and all that sort of stuff.

"But I wasn't prepared in any way to deal with that huge void in my life. I'd been a footballer from the age of 15 and I couldn't have been more institutionalised if I had been in the army. I loved competing.

"When I finished I went through a period of desolation. I had a desperate period of absolute uselessness for anything. Your confidence is affected and it is a downward spiral from there. I had absolutely nothing to look forward to.

"It's hard for footballers because, in so many aspects of your life, you are so much better off than other people but it is where you are in your head at that time that matters. I remember Stan Collymore being ridiculed for suffering from depression. John Gregory, his manager at Aston Villa, said how could someone earning £20,000 a week have it?

"But when you are suffering from chronic depression you don't go to a hole in the wall, stick your card in, look at your balance and see you have £200,000 in the bank and go 'that's it, I feel brilliant'. It's much deeper than that.

"I think people are coming round to understanding it a bit more and hopefully there is no shame attached to it anymore.

"Thankfully for me, I dealt with my drinking problem and my addictive alcoholism before I retired. God only help me if I hadn't, because I only know for sure that I wouldn't be sat here with you talking because it would have just got darker and worse."

Andy Morrison inspired City's promotion out of League One in 1999

Morrison inspired City's promotion from League One in 1999. Photo: Getty Images

The good news for Morrison, and for those with similar problems, is that there was help out there then, and there still is now.

We do not know the reasons for Speed's death but the debate over mental health in football has been ongoing since Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke took his own life in 2009 and Rushden & Diamonds goalkeeper Dale Roberts killed himself a year later.

And despite the claims of Susannah Strong - author of a booklet on handling depression which the Professional Footballers' Association sent out to ex-players in the wake of Speed's death - that "there is no attention paid whatsoever to the mental health of footballers", the reality is that there has been a support system in place for some time.

Morrison, who was a warrior of a player known for inspiring team-mates and fans alike, feels Strong was right when she spoke of his condition being a taboo subject in football but says he was not left high and dry when he did reveal it and hopes others have the strength to do the same.

"There is a lot of support out there for footballers if they want to ask for it but when you are in such a desperate place it is hard to say 'I'm really struggling with life' and lower all your barriers and let your ego go," he added. "I was the captain of every club I played for and I felt it was out of character to say I was struggling.

"When I did, I spoke to counsellors from Sporting Chance Clinic. They offered great help. I was given anti-depression tablets but there is no quick cure. For me, and I can only speak for me, there were no innate words of wisdom which were going to help me through it. It's a process and you have to be strong. You need all the help you can get.

"Anyone who suffers from it has to be brave enough to first recognise it - because that is the hardest thing - and then be willing to ask for help."

Morrison is in a better place now. Professionally, he is enjoying his job with Northwich and dreaming of coaching in the Premier League. Personally, he savours life with wife Paula and their three children.

He has still not conquered all his demons, however. "There are days when the black dog is at the bottom of the bed when I wake up," Morrison adds. "He says 'good morning, I've been waiting for you'. There is nothing I can do to stop it happening, but now I know what to do when it does."

Follow me on Twitter throughout the season at www.twitter.com/chrisbevanbbc

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Very poignant story given recent events - maybe the tragic death of Gary Speed may make others come forward and face their demons - an absolute cult hero at City - I loved him

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Andy, look after yourself, and good luck in your career, and come back to us soon to say hello whenever you want a little lift.

  • Comment number 4.

    The more people who are informed by this debilitating illness, the better.
    Thank you for continuing to raise awareness.
    It helps us all.

  • Comment number 5.

    Very touching Chris, and thanks for posting!

    Andy, you're a true legend. Thanks for sharing your story, it sounds like many could benefit from hearing about your experiences.

  • Comment number 6.

    Rule number one if you are suffering depression is not to make big decisions whilst feeling low, externalizing the problem is not what you want, the illness may want you to torpedo your life.

  • Comment number 7.

    Good read and the more publicity that mental health gets the better.Well done Andy for tackling your problems the best you can and good luck in the future.

    Regards suicide 3 times more men commit it than women which tells it's own story.Would i not be right in saying that the suicide rate among footballers is actually lower then the national average.Just because people are successful or play professional sports doesn't mean that they are mentally different to the rest of us.Depression just like alcoholism doesn't care about your status,how much money you have or how "successful" in life you are.

    Anyway will keep an eye out for that book,seems like it will be an interesting read.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good peice of writing.

    If you suffer from depression, get support. There are plenty of resources out there in this great country to help you. You needn't suffer. The old saying "A Problem aired is a problem shared" is so true.

    People need support. Once upon a time it there were closer family units. Today, people get on with 'life' and sometimes don't have that family unit for support.

    There hasn't been one person that hasn't been through what you've gone through and come out a better person with expert support and guidance.

    ..and remember 'This too will pass'.

    God bless.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    @ Post#9 by tomolondon

    I'm sorry, but what a horribly ill-informed post. Conditions like depression don't descriminate. It is precisely your kind of ignorance that we are starting to chip away at. Did you even read the article? The money on offer isn't the key to happiness. No doubt it makes countless of footballers, and others in industries where the rewards are vast, perfectly happy. But as I said, depression doesn't descriminate and telling people to just "get on with it" because they happen to be on a substantial wage is likely to hinder, rather than help, the situation.

  • Comment number 12.

    Andy - great to hear your doing well and just wanted to say well done for writing your book and sharing your experience with us all.

    The more people realise this illness is about how you feel inside and not what people see outside then progress can be made.

    Money doesn't cure depression, it is about coping with the down days and progressing along a road of achievement to realise your selfworth.

  • Comment number 13.

    9. tomolondon

    What an incredibly stupid, insensitive, immature and ignorant thing to say. Your views are those that drive people to take such tragic, final steps. I'd love to say "I hope you don't ever have to go through something as all-consuming and endlessly bleak as depression", but maybe understanding how it feels to have this illness would stop you from writing such utter garbage. Mental illness doesn't discriminate between the rich and the poor, those that (as you say) "have made it" and those that "are struggling just to survive".

    A great article, it's just such a shame that debates such as these took the death of a footballing hero to be propelled to the mainstream. The more often I hear about Sporting Chance the more incredible the place seems.

  • Comment number 14.

    Excellent article, I hope a lot of people read it and some are able to gain the strength to ask for help.

    It is a shame the following two paragraphs are at the bottom, they really should be highlighted. It is impossible to explain depression, but this goes a long way:

    "Anyone who suffers from it has to be brave enough to first recognise it - because that is the hardest thing - and then be willing to ask for help."

    "There are days when the black dog is at the bottom of the bed when I wake up," Morrison adds. "He says 'good morning, I've been waiting for you'. There is nothing I can do to stop it happening, but now I know what to do when it does."

  • Comment number 15.

    tomolondon

    As my post was moderated for linking externally... I'll repeat what i saud:

    You hear that? Thats the sound of you missing the point entirely. Can I recommend you track down anything on Robert Enke, Marcus Trescothick, Frank Bruno, John Kirwan. All top stars - money, respect, adualtion - all means nothing where depression is concerned.

  • Comment number 16.

    9: You're right that people who know more about depression will probably disagree with you. It's something that can affect anyone, regardless of social background or wealth. Comments such as quit your whining are frankly insensitive and idiotic. It's precisely what should be happening more so that people don't feel ashamed and keep it to themselves until it all gets too much for them.

  • Comment number 17.

    Where is the sporting chance clinic or sent out booklet to help the people who don't earn hundreds of thousands. It's very difficult to get continued help through the nhs.

  • Comment number 18.

    What should be interesting to people is that it is a full spectrum of individuals within football who are affected by depression. Players, officials, referees, ex-players - and this not only occurs at all levels of the game (I know that personally, having suffered depression whilst a parks player) but outside the game as well.

    Depression is an awful illness, and for those who have serious depression, when you look back and see quite how close you were to taking your own life you also realise quite how much you need outside help. I would encourage people who struggle to at least talk with their GP, or a local church minister. It is the first step that is so hard - "I need help" is all you need to say, and help comes swinging in.

  • Comment number 19.

    9. @tomolondon

    Ridiculous thing to say, and if all you're after in this life is physical riches then I feel sorry for you. I understand those with more money lead an easier life, but depression doesn't give a damn how much you've got in your bank, it's an illness, not a case of manning up and "quitting whinging"

  • Comment number 20.

    @ #9. I am amazed that anyone in this day and age can still carry such an opinion, when clearly they have the basic intelligence to write, (though obviously NOT read).
    Such ignorance is astounding, and basically saying that if you are very rich, you've got no excuse for contracting cancer !!
    I do hope that eventually, this ignorance can be broken, as comments like those from TomoLondon are inexcusable, and just prove the enormous amount of ignorance that still exists.

  • Comment number 21.

    To the moderators, can we please leave in what some people are saying that most of us find negative? I want to read what these ill informed people have to say and you have opened a channel for honest debate. Maybe the weight of hostility shown to such ignorance could change a few minds which surely is the point of this type of conversation.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great Article.

    I think it's important to see comments like the ones made by Tomolondon. I think we need to be aware of the high level of ignorance and lack of any understanding that still exists about mental illness today. We also need public examples of depression to be made by people such as Andy to shine a light on this debilitating illness and start to hopefully question some people's dangerously skewed view of depression.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hopefully the tide is turning in people, particularly men, being able to be open about depressive illness.

    Articles like this and sportsmen or public figures disclosing their own experiences can only help with that.

  • Comment number 24.

    Glad to here that you are doing well after all your problems. You will always be welcome at M.C.F.C

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm going to try and defend No.9's post, in some way, because I want to make a point about what causes depression and how it can possibly be treated.

    Most people rightly point out that even if you have money and are successful in your career on a superficial level, you can suffer from depression. It can affect anyone regardless of salary, material or social status. Agreed.

    I want to ask a question: if you have money though, surely you can use it to change your life in a way that ordinary people suffering from depression, perhaps trapped in a job they hate, with family they have obligations to, are unable to?

    Environmental factors and life incidents certainly have a bearing on depression. My argument would be: if you have money, surely you can change your personal circumstances, you have more freedom to take control and try something positive to take your life out of that rut you are in, something that can change your mental outlook and get your balance back. You can move to a different country, have access to opportunities beyond most people, social as well as material, which can help- whereas people with fewer material possessions and lower social status are more limited in how they can deal with this illness.

    It's just a point I'd like to make- I'm not attempting to belittle this illness or wind anyone up. I'm just saying that privileged celebrities have better opportunity to beat this disease than ordinary people that you never hear about, who suffer from it. For example, the same applies to addiction and those people who can afford the specialist clinics to treat their problem.

  • Comment number 26.

    Tomolondon question, You live in a big house nice car safe job lovely family everythings good feeling happy, BUT then your partner has leaves you, takes your children and only lets you see them for a few hours every other weekend.....Still happy?

  • Comment number 27.

    A moving and intelligent article.

    Just wanted to add that, as a City fan, I often think of Andy now. He almost single-handedly turned round our season when he joined the club at our very lowest ebb, and it is surely a fact that all the exciting times we enjoy today are down in no small part to a few heroes from that time. For although there were a number of people involved - I'd particularly mention Joe Royle, Nicky Weaver, Shaun Goater, Paul Dickov, and above all David Bernstein - Andy was in many ways the never-say-die spirit on which the mother of all comebacks was built.

    I can't help wondering if clubs do enough to help their former heroes? I really don't know if City do or don't in Andy's case and I'd be interested to hear about it if anyone knows. But for me, in his own unique way of course, Andy is every bit as part of our history as Francis Lee or Colin Bell.

  • Comment number 28.

    #25 Vox Populi.

    If that were the case then the 3rd world must look at people in the west and not understand how anyone gets depressed either. We should never complain, feel down at work or in a relationship. We have it 'all'.

    After all we are all millionaires compared to 100s of millions of people living in true poverty. We should never be down, upset, depressed if personal wealth and opportunity are the criteria??

  • Comment number 29.

    In response to what appears to be a genuine question from post 25

    "I want to ask a question: if you have money though, surely you can use it to change your life in a way that ordinary people suffering from depression, perhaps trapped in a job they hate, with family they have obligations to, are unable to?"

    Possibly yes, but there's a part of depression (suffering myself) that beats you down saying "you're better off than most people, you should be able to deal with this - you're pathetic". That's certainly how i feel when it gets on top of me. I get paid well as an IT contractor and am very fortunate in may repsects, but it adds different problems.

    I think I'll be safe in saying that no poster here will have attained the same highs that professional athletes do. I'd love to play football or basketball in front of thousands to find out what it's like.

    There's one quote from AM that a lot of people suffering from depression will be able to relate to:

    "There are days when the black dog is at the bottom of the bed when I wake up. He says 'good morning, I've been waiting for you'. There is nothing I can do to stop it happening"

    He then goes on to say that he knows what to do to help this - and that's the good thing that's coming from athletes talking about this illness. HELP IS OUT THERE, you are NOT alone.

    Nice quote from poster 27 - "But for me, in his own unique way of course, Andy is every bit as part of our history as Francis Lee or Colin Bell." I'm sure he'd appreciate that.

  • Comment number 30.

    I have suffered from chronic depression since childhood along with personality disorder. There is no cure. I managed to work for most of the time but it felt meaningless. I had a complete breakdown when I was 58 a few years ago and luckily, my GP specialised in mental health issues. She managed to get me help. I had treatment from NHS psychiatrists and later psychologists as well as CBT nurses. I now have a standby team if and when I need it. I will be on massive medication for the rest of my life, but at least I have relief and control now.
    It is all the more galling when I read the vile bigotry published by media like the Daily Mail and The Express who portray anyone with a mental illness as a `scrounger` or `benefits cheat`. Is it any wonder that we have these tragedies when we have a country with medieval attitudes and Alf Garnett opinions fuelled by a bigoted press.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    One of my closest friends Brian Etheridge who played for Northampton Town, Brentford, and then in Belgium died earlier this year after losing a long battle against depression. Brian had a very successful footballing and business career. He was a great loss to his friends and his family. His problems began after selling his business. I think professional footballers are driven people and there should be specialist help available to those that need it

  • Comment number 33.

    Mental illness has very recently had its 'Rock Hudson' moment. Now because of the deaths of the footballers in recent years the illness is being accepted and not ridiculed.

    To be fair to John Gregory what he said at the time is how a lot of people then thought and less people now think about depression. I am sure he is now more enlightened on the subject.

    I'm a United fan but good luck to Andy, this illness doesn't discriminate so neither should we.

  • Comment number 34.

    28.
    At 10:10 6th Dec 2011, ComeEnglandAway wrote:


    #25 Vox Populi.

    If that were the case then the 3rd world must look at people in the west and not understand how anyone gets depressed either. We should never complain, feel down at work or in a relationship. We have it 'all'.

    After all we are all millionaires compared to 100s of millions of people living in true poverty. We should never be down, upset, depressed if personal wealth and opportunity are the criteria??
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I think there have actually been studies where people who enjoy a more basic way of life suffer from lower rates of depression (important to stress that I don't mean areas affected by famine or war though)

    It's because underdeveloped societies have a stronger sense of community; social, moral and emotional support for any individual who is suffering; they are closer to true nature rather than superficial, hollow material values and they have a lower sense of expectation as they are not exposed to idealised lifestyles. This social structure prevents depression developing in certain individuals.

    However, this blog is probably not the right place to intellectually analyse and discuss what causes depression and how it is best treated or make some kind of social study; I just wanted to raise something I thought was pertinent to counter the points which were all saying the same thing. Certainly I accept that depression is a very real illness and would never attempt to belittle it. My point really is that some aspects of our modern society are to blame.

  • Comment number 35.

    sheff-blue: Totally agree, I was at Maine Road too when we had Andy & the other legends like Goater and Dickov. Our club wouldn't be where we are today without their efforts. Hopefully City can do something for these guys.

    Andy you were immense for us! Thanks fella.

    Reading John Gregory's comment on Collymore's depression, it's a sad refelction on football that someone with such little understanding could reach such a high profile position of man management.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    First of all, great article. It is heartwarming that the tragic and untimely death of Gary Speed may have some benefit, in encouraging those who suffer with depression to open up about their illness.

    I have suffered with depression on and off for most of my adult life. I was unable to read the opinions of TomoLondon, but I am very pleased to see he is in the minority of posters. In his defence, it is almost impossible to describe depression to somebody who has not suffered with the illness. The bleakness, the hopelessness and the despair are probably unimaginable to people whose brains simply do not work in the same way as a depressives.

    The ignorance of reactions along the lines of "What has a rich footballer got to be depressed about? Try living in the real world, etc" are not borne out of malice. In fact I think it's often a case of genuine bafflement that somebody who is, on the surface "living the dream" can possibly complain. If you grew up dreaming of being a footballer, with all the money and fame and adulation that goes with it, and you end up having to scrape money together to pay the bills and afford a pint, then it is of course going to be difficult to comprehend how anyone living that lifestyle could possibly be unhappy.

    #25 makes a very good point. A footballer has far more scope to tackle the illness than the everyday person, not that there is any guarantee of success. For me there is no PFA or Sporting Chance Clinic, and private counselling is not an option financially; there is the doctor who will double my dose of anti-depressants and put me on a six-month waiting list to see a counsellor on the NHS. It would be wonderful if a footballer who has suffered from depression was to set up a charity for everyday young men with the illness. It would also make the footballer feel better about himself and his life: often the thing missing from a depressive's life is a sense of fulfilment. The same way Tony Adams has received nothing but praise and respect for being open about his alcoholism, it would benefit both the footballer and society to "give back" in this way. On a similar note, I feel the same opportunity exists for somebody to be the first openly gay footballer of the Premier League/Champions League era; the taunts that might come from the stands would be more than compensated by being considered a role model and an inspiration to millions of people.

    Best of luck to Andy Morrison, and thanks to Andy and his colleagues who have been open about their illness. Hopefully it will mak

  • Comment number 38.

    @9 you are so wrong it's untrue, whether that be because you dont understand this then fair enough but your thoughts and opinions are your own and are of the the minority. i suggest you go away and do some research before posting again on this subject.

    The book, the good, the mad and the ugly is a brilliant read, its pretty mental at times.

    good luck Andy

  • Comment number 39.

    Depression is extremely misunderstood by those who have never suffered from it. Some are scared by it, a fear of the unknown. I 'work' with people who self harm and the reasons behind self harm are many and varied, as are the reasons behind suicide. I've begun to think that, when people hurt themselves they are sort of removed from their 'normal' place, into somewhere dark, somewhere non sufferers cannot understand. They say that we have a large portion of our brain we do not use, maybe this part is what kicks in for depression, etc, etc.
    I would also like to comment on that City team from around the turn of the century. Please do not forget Terry Cooke, who along with Andy Morrison, turned the season round and also in my view the real forgotten man of that period, Kevin Horlock. Without Horlocks 1st goal the chance for Dickovs goal for 2-2 at Wembley would never have existed. The part Horlock played in Keegans 2002 promotion team should not be underestimated either.

  • Comment number 40.

    As someone who has suffered from depression for the past 4 years, seeing the likes of Andy Morrison and Stan Collymore coming out to crush the rumours that surround this illness is fantastic. It is so often misunderstood, I don't entirely understand it myself, but the more that it is brought into the limelight the better, things like this take courage as it is an illness that's looked down upon, but I really hope that this can bring a change in the way it is viewed.

  • Comment number 41.

    @9

    I can't see your comment but judging by others they were very ignorant. It is un-bias, money means nothing. infact if you look down the years think how many famous musicians, artists, sportmen and women, have taken there life due to depression. They all had everything but it still took grip. Its attitudes like that, that stop people talking about there problems.

  • Comment number 42.

    There IS help out there for anyone who seeks it, and there are some excellent organisations that are there to help, too: 'Mind' 'Rethink' and the national campaign: 'Time to Change - Lets end mental health discrimination' I have been involved with this national campaign for about three years, and have represented them through undertaking workshops, presentations and through the media. (Please see: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/?) I would be more than happy to help anyone discuss their MH concerns, as I can certainly empathise with them, as I have had depression for over 20 years and also suffer with PTSD, but this has not stopped me getting on with my life; just realise that I had to change things.

  • Comment number 43.

    Clearly it's better to have more material resources and better access to services than not to. However, depression can affect absolutely anyone and the issue should be to ensure understanding and access to services for everyone rather than berating an individual because he may have a lot of material resources.

  • Comment number 44.

    A lot of respect has to be given to Andy by City fans

    We were at our lowest point, third tier of English football, and players such as Gerry Creany, Jamie Pollock and Ged Brannan, playing with such abject naffness it had to be seen to be believed.

    Royle came in and sold about half the squad and brought in some proper characters. None came bigger than Andy.

    Andy Morisson, alongside people like Gerrard Wiekens, Kevin Horlock, Terry Cooke, Ian Bishop, Jeff Whitley, Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov gave the club some momentum and managed to turn it around.

  • Comment number 45.

    I too have suffered from very severe depression over the years and have just recently come out of a nightmare 12 month period. The crucial point is that people must appreciate the difference between "having depression" (a mental health illness) and "being depressed" i.e. feeling down. The latter you can sometimes pull yourself out of by positive thinking, the former you can not.

    Take my word for it - nobody would voluntarily stay depressed if it was simply an attitude of mind. It is a horrible affliction with a scary potential endgame; if people make sceptical comments to me about depression I tell them to imagine how despairing people must feel if they prefer death to life?

    I saw tomolondon's comment before it was removed & I wish the moderators would leave it in too as that is the sort of attitude that needs to be challenged very strongly.

  • Comment number 46.

    @17 The Depression Alliance can be a good starting point

  • Comment number 47.

    It's about time society recognised that depression isn't a vehicle for shirkers or 'weaklings' it is complex and often the result of damaged upbringings, which I think was also an issue for Andy Morrison.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    tomolondon

    your comments were removed as i presume they were of the same use as the last.

    None at all

    go away

  • Comment number 50.

    I have lived most of my Adult life abroad, i am English and when i am in UK i find that English people dont seem to be always so understanding of things outside the norm. If a person is depressed they tend to be avoided, labeled, boxed and sent packing.

    More awareness about this the better, i hear that SAD kicks in around now for more and more people all year.

    Its also very brave that people come forward to talk about these things so it will help others to talk about it and not be seen as some social outcaste.

  • Comment number 51.

    its genuinely unfortunate that it takes the deaths of celebrities for conditions to become real, and it is fantastic to see that facilities are being put in place to help these people. if only the rest of society would follow suit!! i am a sufferer of bi-polar, i have tried to get help many times, couseling especially, as i believe simply talking through problems can be the best remedy and can help you re-assess areas of your life. unfortunately i am currently a nobody all on my own, there is no-one to help me, i have asked and was passed from pillar to post, that or they offered to throw drugs at me.
    unfortunately whilst depression may well be getting its share of the spotlight from the media - real people like myself are left trapped in our homes, uncared for and forgotten.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Andy Morrison, what a Leg-End. I like most CITY fans remember his comanding performances at the heart of the CITY defence, he give everything and it obviously took its toll on a great leader.

    United had Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Dwight York. CITY had Morrison, Weaver, Terry Cooke, Kevin Horlock, true Blue legends and kudos to the other CITY supporter (#27-Shelf Blue) who mentions David Bernstien's great work.

    Andy Morrison take a bow, thousands are greatful for what you did, stay well and strive to take your leadership into management.

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 54.

    Vox_Populi (#25),

    While you are correct in that someone who has money can afford to take action to tackle the depression (from my limited understanding mostly this would be treatment rather than self-directed changes).
    However both the poor man and the rich man need to recognise that they have a problem and then willing to seek the help they need. From the little I have seen about depression this seems to be the hardest part as the depression makes people feel alone and without support so they don't think they can get the help - the money they have doesn't make a difference to this important first step.

  • Comment number 55.

    Good story. Actually this isn't a sport related problem ... in the USA a whopping 25% of women take anti-depressants. I wonder how many are depressed in total ? 50% ?

    Wow. It's just the complete failure of society.

    Let's not pretend.

  • Comment number 56.

    Good luck for the future Andy. I look forward to reading your book.

  • Comment number 57.

    Now can we please have some footballers coming out as Gay!! I'm 100% certain that staying in the closet is causing great pain and difficulty for many players (totally unnecessarily), so come on let's kick homophobia out of the game!

  • Comment number 58.

    I think people still confuse clinical depression, an illness, with the 'depression' they feel when their life isn't going well. The illness isn't an example of someone not being able to cope when things go badly. It's like suggesting a brain tumor is the result of reading too much. Reading too much can give you a headache - so can a brain tumor, but it doesn't make the conditions comparable.

    Having suffered my first bout of depression at the age of 19, and still suffering now, I know what I'm talking about. I still work, and people who meet me don't usually guess that I have this illness. I am successful both in my relationship and work, but there are still days when I can't get out of the front door without dread and nausea and the feeling that anyone who looks at me will see the word 'loser' tattooed on my forehead. I have had excellent help from the much denigrated NHS, but know that I'll have to be on medication and cope with depression for the forseeable future and beyond.

    I would like to thank Andy Morrison for having the courage to speak about this. There will always be people who will suggest that successful people have no right to be depressed, but that's like saying that sports stars and celebrities also have no right to have cancer.

  • Comment number 59.

    I'd recommend the book 'Malignant Sadness' by Lewis Wolpert, a succesful heart surgeon with a happy family life. He was stricken by chronic depression and was fortunate to begin to recover before he tried anything extreme.

    His book is both an autobiographical record of his illness and a detailed study of some of the causes of depression. His main conclusion is that depression is 50% life situation and 50% genetic, very generally speaking. Success and wealth ain't gonna stop you becoming depressed!

  • Comment number 60.

    Depression is a very complicated and often misunderstood disease.

    The rich/poor thing is very true about access to doctors/mental health professionals. I heard one NHS primary health trust having a year long waiting list for a professional counsellor / doctor (Crazy!? - also people attempt suicide just to get the help quicker, which is not required for the rich footballer) whereas the rich footballer can get help instantly through money.

    I know it is sad but anything that raises awareness / debate of this issue is a good thing. As time passes this will become more and more of a problem. 20% expected to be depressed by 2020 or something like that.

  • Comment number 61.

    Depression can hit anyone at anytime, i am not a huge football fan but if football/sport can be used as a vehicle to inform and help people of all walks of life then i say a big fat YES!

  • Comment number 62.

    I speak as someone that, as I mentioned in the earlier blog on this topic, have survived two full-blown bouts of depression and semi-regularly goes on shorter-term downers.

    Depression has triggers. Half the battle is working out what those triggers are. While TomoLondon's comments were presumably crass, Vox Populi has a point. A professional footballer has a degree of stability in his life, my depressions were generally triggered by loss of stability/potential loss of stability/general failiure in life.

    Therefore while I take everyone who goes through depression seriously, it is hard to understand why some high-profile footballers and managers go through depression, particularly Gary Speed who was one of the more succsessful ones. NOt only that but even the guys that knew him didn't seem to have a clue.

  • Comment number 63.

    I believe there is more to come with the Gary Speed story, we'll see what unravels in 6 months.

  • Comment number 64.

    Thanks for posting this, hope it helps you to get along with the black dog which us fellow sufferers have to do. Acknowledgement is key, and it's great that you have shared your experiences. All the best for the future.
    In regard to other coments, no one knew when I was depressed---I didn't know either! But I learned with hindsight that there were signals around (which I largely hid from self and others stangley). For e.g. my driving had become impaired -nothing too serious, but there appeared to be more idiots on the road causing me more near misses (it's a fact that judgement is impaired and taking in data/information and processing it takes longer and longer. At work I would pore over statistics and spread sheets and suddemyl no longer felt I could even look at them, let alone make sense of the information. I was OK with stuff in "2D" but anything more left my brain in a blur. This impacted on the length of my waking day..which month by month increased dramatically. I knew when I could finally get to sleep because the noise in my head would suddenly stop, as if the brain had completed its filing of the previous days activities.

  • Comment number 65.

    Interesting blog Chris

    Depression is not a football problem, it is a problem in all walks of life. I believe the real problem is, in certain professions, depression is a taboo subject with the belief that if made public, ridicule will follow.

    Football has forever been in the dark ages. The reality is, football is the same as society but for too long it refused to accept that it is no different to everyday life. It is unreasonable to expect that there is no depression, no homosexuality, no bullying and other issues. Yet until recently no one spoke of it.

    What's that ridiculous saying, 'real men don't talk about such things'. Now that is complete rubbish because it is only real people who do talk. Society was once like football but society progressed by coming clean and discussing issues openly.

    It is going to take football years to accept taboo issues and need to be treated with respect.

  • Comment number 66.

    #65

    Absolutely spot-on. It's 2011 and there are no openly gay footballers! Nuts. There needs to be a 'shift', sooner rather than later I say.

  • Comment number 67.

    Having read everyone's responses to my original post (#9) apologies. I chose totally the wrong wording and offended everyone and I realise that this was a stupid post to write. I realise I need to update my views about this subject.

    In response to those who say I must be ignorant about this, three people in my family including (two aunts and my father) were all diagnosed with serious depression, one of them, an aunt, has suffered it for 40 years.

  • Comment number 68.

    MGUK82 - I can understand the point raised by yourself and Vox Populi. However, I'd argue that what you are missing is the workload and strains that (generally) come with a large income. My wife was a high earner for a number of years, but was constantly battling depression. Yes, the money helps - but the price she paid for that was working a ridiculous number of hours (typically about 70 a week but a lot more on some occasions) and the pressure of being responsible for the lives and well-being of many others. The job may have been better for stability financially, but the varying workload and times of work made it difficult to have stable life outside work (if that makes sense). In terms of 'general failure' any time she did something less than perfectly she was worried not only about letting herself down but also everyone she was responsible for.

    About a year ago she turned her back on that career and is much better for it. Believe it or not facing bankruptcy and losing our home is much easier to deal with.

    Our combined income is below average now, but we are lucky enough that we can at least pay essential bills and buy food. I genuinely feel sorry for those that can't manage that, and would hate to be in that position. However, the difference between having enough to get by and having money to spare doesn't look that big to me.

    I'd say that the most important thing is not having money, but having friends and family that will support you through it.

    I can very much relate to the 'black dog at the end of the bed' comment, it is more good days than bad now but there are still days when it is just there.

  • Comment number 69.

    Great article, and a really interesting read. Depression is a really difficult and complicated subject, and sadly there is still limited understanding of it... I found the point about depression and money particularly poignant. The instinct is to look for physical things, real things to battle depression, hence the link between alcoholism and even suicide, and depression doesn't have a price where it can just be got rid of...

  • Comment number 70.

    I think this is a good blog, this can only be a good thing for sportstars. They maybe among the fittest people in the country......physically. But mentally there are just the same as anybody else.......problems, stress, families, money, same problems we all have. Also sportstars are more in the public eye which i would think can be reallly stressfull. What doesn't help is uneducated people saying things like "John Gregory, his manager at Aston Villa, said how could someone earning £20,000 a week have it? Managers should also be managing there staff as well, not just caring about results.

  • Comment number 71.

    Big: I see your point mate, I know full well that there are many different types of stability and I know that the bad work/life balance your wife had is an easy way to go on to a downer, best wishes to her.

    I guess we simply don't know enough about Gary Speed's personal life to know how his football activities were affecting that.

  • Comment number 72.

    @67.At 13:49 6th Dec 2011, tomolondon wrote:

    I commend you for admitting that you were wrong and apologising. These discussions must be open so that people can learn about the issue. That is why it was very brave of Andy to include this in his book and I hope it will be a lesson for others.

    Having a great deal of money means that you do not have to worry about things that other people have to worry about but you will always find something to fill that void. It is a bit like Parkinson’s Law where work expands to fill the time available to do it in. So while you don’t have to fret about paying the bills, other issues will occupy your mind instead.

    Having money does also mean that you can get better access to treatment but the problem there is that while the depression is there, many people will feel that it is their own fault that they feel the way that they do and feel that they do not deserve treatment. A lot of it comes from thinking that they are the only person who feels the way they do. When they see that it can happen to anyone, rich or poor, successful or not then hopefully they will have the courage to take action to help themselves.

  • Comment number 73.

    I find a key way to encourage understanding is to compare the terms "having depression" and "being depressed".

    Those with an ignorant stance are confusing the two. Someone unaffected by mental illness, yet have money problems and are stuck in a job they hate with responsibilities that leave them unable to leave etc have probably got reason to be 'depressed'. I use the term here to describe the feeling caused by negative yet actual and material events.

    I have depression but have never said "i am depressed" as it just doesn't fit what I'm trying to say and sounds or feels too related to material things.

  • Comment number 74.

    I agree with post.73 - I often think they should find another name for "depression" the illness as the word "depressed" has become too common a phrase in our every day language and hence leads to some of the ignorance that exists...

  • Comment number 75.

    Great article and it shows that regardless of wealth etc mental health problems can affect us all.

    I personally have mental health problems and suffer from "borderline personality disorder" or schizophrenia as it was known several years ago.

    Depression has a massive scale to it and it is possible to be depressed without being suicidal.

    The only thing I disliked about this article is the comment that "depression is a taboo subject in the world of football".

    Actually, depression is a taboo subject full stop, and it shouldn't be.

  • Comment number 76.

    @51.At 11:59 6th Dec 2011, bigbuba wrote:

    There are places where you can get help. Have a look at:

    http://depressionuk.org/
    http://www.overcomedepression.co.uk/
    http://www.depressionhelp.me.uk/
    http://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/depression.php

    If you really feel that you are trapped and forgotten, please go to your GP and discuss this as soon as possible. I am not qualified to offer you any advice but there are people who can help. You don't need to be alone.

  • Comment number 77.

    #66 Being openly gay in professional sport is a problem but it is already changing. When Gareth Thomas (rugby) came out as being gay to his Welsh team mates their reaction was perfect - cannot remember the exact quote Gareth gave but I think it was Stephen Jones he told and Stephen's reaction was basically, so what, glad you have told me, now are we going down to the bar for a drink. In other words whether gay or straight made no difference to how his Welsh team mates judged him and respected him.

    Anyway back to the blog. Fantastic article as many have pointed out. Just one point which really stood out for me.

    "I'd been a footballer from the age of 15 and I couldn't have been more institutionalised if I had been in the army."

    A very telling comment from Andy. I wonder if there is anything that armed forces could learn from sport or vice versa

  • Comment number 78.

    I saw a very interesting documentary about Gerd Muller on the weeked. After finishing with Bayern he went off to the US to join the dying embers of the NASL and even though he was relatively successful as a goalscorer, he gradually fell into alcoholism. It is not clear if this was connected with depression but what was clear was that he was relatively successful but disconnected with the life in Bayern that he clearly loved and he became a lost soul.

    Fellow players from Bayern ( including Der Kaiser ) brought him back from the brink by creating a coaching job for him.

    An example of a club looking after a former legend fallen upon hard times - there should be more.

    New Zealand has a higher than average suicide rate and the efforts of John Kirwan in trying to explain how depression affected him will hopefully lessen the rate. If it can happen to JK it can happen to anyone.

  • Comment number 79.

    There is no defence of #9's comment. And none for Vox Populi's either. I'm ashamed that both of you even exist.

    Let me explain what depression actually is to some of you folk who are lucky enough never to have experienced it. You feel completely alienated and lost even in a crowd of people. Your head is full of negative thoughts and there is absolutely nothing anyone can say that can help. You don't feel motivated to do anything and even if you were you are unable to do so. Eating has to be done in such small portions and extremely slowly like a baby. You feel constantly scared and fearful of everybody and everything.

    And hey, that's on a good day.

    Not at any stage do you think 'Wow, a Million pounds would really help right now.' Such a notion as suggested by the two aforementioned scandalous idiots turns my stomach to rot.

    Look at Gary Speed - he had it all; perfect family, decent wealth etc. But it got too much for him. I somehow found strength to carry on and get through it as did others in this thread but he unfortunately couldn't.

    Depression is easily the worst thing that can affect any human being.

  • Comment number 80.

    @67.At 13:49 6th Dec 2011, tomolondon wrote

    thumbs up for apologising,

    nice one mate

  • Comment number 81.

    @79.At 14:36 6th Dec 2011, T_Neumann wrote:

    "There is no defence of #9's comment"

    To be fair, he has admitted that he was wrong to post what he did, apologised and said he intends to find out more about the subject.

  • Comment number 82.

    Post 79. Think you've missed the point with Vox Populi's post, the gist i got was that with more money you simply have options that people with less do. I'd say that's accurate.

    We're all individuals, having more money may or may not make life easier dependent on the individual. That's the real point. Anyone - Anywhere - It's like any other illness.

    Enough posters on here saying it's difficult to explain - being able to talk about it more openly is so important.

  • Comment number 83.

    It is very hard to explain, even to those people close to you.

    Not being able to control your life is a big factor and this is where I find it hard to understand pro-footballers and their illness - I could change large parts of my life with money. Or maybe it woudl just swap one set of problems for another. Who knows?

    The pills help. They help you get up in the morning. You don't have to stay on them for long and, to be honest, they're very nice and you wouldn't want to be in that artificial state of mind forever.

    More people like Andy need to highlight the issue. I hide mine so well and hopefully one day there wont be a such stigma attached to it.

  • Comment number 84.

    The problem with Depression is that everything is looked at through dark glasses - if you own property you think that it might be taken over by squatters, you worry that your friends will abandon you because you are so morose and, as for money - it causes more problems sometimes - what if......... the bank folds, someone manages to hack into your account and steals it, what's the best place to put it etc. etc. Then of course you cannot get a good night's sleep and unfortunately normal doctors when faced with a case of Depression recommend a dose of tablets that they don't fully understand - dosage differs from person to person so it has to be a try it and see remedie. Too much and you go into overdrive spending money like water and then you fall mentally and are ashamed of yourself because of your irresponsibility. You need the full support of good people around you.

  • Comment number 85.

    Depression is hidden away in all occupations, is sport any worse than any other profession?

    Name a profession where if you went to your manager / HR manager and admitted to having depression, especially medicated depression, where the response would be any different to football, in fact with a fixed length contract and insurance you may even be better off in football?

    It is difficult enough for those with it to understand, those close to those with it cannot understand unless they have had it and admitted it. It is difficult to comprehend something that you cannot see, if you have a broken leg, fine that is visible and can be visibly fixed, if you have depression you can't see the injury and you can't see the injury being repaired.

    On the other side of things, with the massive highs and lows in sport, from being a champion to being a benchwarmer, in the reserves or longterm injured, or out of contract you can see why maybe it could be more prevalent in sport.

  • Comment number 86.

    Justin @77

    I wrote earlier of the taboos, being gay or depression, that are found in football and that is simply because football mirrors society. Football has to accept a share of responsibility BUT it's purpose is not to cure societies ills.

    Football cannot or will not change as long as the sponsors requirements are a factor. Afterall sponsors do not want a product that is associated with lifes problems. Plus you have to key in the locality and the fan base. Football will not change until society does.

    I come from an area of the UK where depression is by and large, accepted and treated with respect, being gay is considered normal. Where I live now, is like being in the dark ages, it is the complete opposite.

    Issues raise are one thing, changing the views of society are another and it will take time.

  • Comment number 87.

    EazilyGrizly @85

    Name a profession where if you went to your manager / HR manager and admitted to having depression, especially medicated depression, where the response would be any different to football, in fact with a fixed length contract and insurance you may even be better off in football?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    You have just highlighted what I wrote in my post @86. There are now many professions in parts of this country, that now take a totally different approach to to what was once a taboo subject.

    Football on the other hand has and still is clinging to the approach 'out of sight, out of mind'. It is only recent events that have highlighted issues that have been around for years..

  • Comment number 88.

    Depression isn't the only reason Gary Speed killed himself. Maybe the truth will come out, maybe now he has killed himself it won't. We can wait and see.

    As for depression I echo one of the earlier posters who said 25% of all american women are on anti depressants. Clearly its a failing in society coupled with an individual susceptibility to the illness.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 91.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 92.

    Good luck andy enjoyed watching you play for city may you continue in your successful recovery and never relapse.

  • Comment number 93.

    I fear that too much is made of football in many ways.
    It must be a fantastic high to play before big crowds, there is probably a good camaraderie in training and these things must make 'ordinary' life difficult to deal with, even with supportive and loving family.
    I am certainly no expert on mental illnesses and would not wish to make pronouncements or observations on this or any other cases.
    Suffice to say well done to Andy for his progress and best wishes for the future from a United fan.

  • Comment number 94.

    91. At 16:37 6th Dec 2011, JamTay1 wrote:
    62.At 13:01 6th Dec 2011, MGUK82 wrote:
    I speak as someone that, as I mentioned in the earlier blog on this topic, have survived two full-blown bouts of depression and semi-regularly goes on shorter-term downers.
    _____________________________________________

    People don't 'survive' depression. What a load of garbage. Learn to deal with your problems and take the rough with the smooth. The 'victim' I'm depressed mentality helps nobody.

    ------------------------------------------------

    you ignorant buffoon!

  • Comment number 95.

    79.At 14:36 6th Dec 2011, T_Neumann wrote:

    "Depression is easily the worst thing that can affect any human being."

    What a bizarre comment - depression is a dreadful disease but is it any worse than a multitude of other health issues. Who do you think you're competing with ?

  • Comment number 96.

    79.
    As bad as depression can be..it is not the worst thing that can happen to a human being.
    If you browse through the days news events..you will see over 50 people slaughtered in Afghanistan,among other items not considered newsworthy.
    I was talking to my best friend on Sunday,trying to raise her spirit because she has just been diagnosed with cancer.
    I lost a brother who died in a motorbike accident...more importantly..my mum lost a son and she mourned him for the rest of her days.
    Depression is but one symptom of life and one which the individual has to overcome,but it can be done.
    Having said that..good luck to Andy,even though he had the misfortune to play for the bitterside of my fair city!

  • Comment number 97.

    depression is not man made therefore i dont agree with popping man made pills, this just masksthe problem but never fix's it. maybe it's just how things are like some people are super intelligent and other's not so, some minds are happy and others are sad inside. u can talk about it all you want but it's not something surgery will rectify,it's pure n simple human works. not a fan of calling it a "disease". aids is a disease.

  • Comment number 98.

    66

    why? what difference will it make if a footballer admits he is gay? it's hardly a disease or something that is necessary to get out in the open. will the football world give off a huge sigh of relief if say frank lampard come out gay? wouldn't affect me in anyway so why the need?

  • Comment number 99.

    We can all say "I'm depressed" which just states a current mood at a given point in time!
    It is difficult for the sufferer to recognise they have clinical depression. Clinical depression is a mixture of many symptoms that even GP's find difficult to actually duagnose! So in many cases a person with clinical depression continue with their life with the depression going untreated (and perhaps unnoticed by his/her loved ones), and getting worse. Finally there can be a complete breakdown with suicide as a possibility.
    Even when you recognise you are clinically depressed, it is not an easy path back to normality. I hope that in writing his autobiography it has helped Andy in coping!

  • Comment number 100.

    @82

    And I say that's inaccurate. And I also say it's total rubbish. But you wouldn't understand. You just presume that being able to fly to the Carribbean on a holiday at any time, or having access to private healthcare provides a higher chance of getting through it. Neither applies. And it's all well and good saying that it's better to have a choice then not to; but it's purely theoretical, really. Poor people have just as much chance of winning the battle against depression then rich people; it's about determination, strength of mind and in some cases.... well... it depends whether you believe some things are meant to be.

    @95 What a bizzare question you ask me. And #96, the pair of you bring a rather strange angle onto this debate. Presumably neither of you have suffered depression so I'm not sure how you can dare question me.

    But I will say is this. War yes, cancer, yes. We've all probably lost someone to either of those things. But they are totally different situations. Some cancer you bring on yourself, some you are born with and it doesn't manifest itself until much much later, and some you get out of the blue for no reason. It's tragic and a traumatic experience for all those involved in any of those circumstances. But the reality is that part of life is to die, and there are any number of ways we are all going to die, it's the inevitable end that awaits us all, and that may be in the war theatre or elsewhere.
    So with that last sentence in mind, anything that could possibly want to make a human end their own life, is, for me, the worst of them all. Yes, an illness can make people want to commit suicide and it happens. But fit and healthy individuals? Wealthy people? Popular people? A chemical inbalance in the brain that has the power to override all reason, sense and logic, forgetting, rather, not caring at that moment how precious everything is? A decision made at the same speed as flicking a light-switch?

    Nothing more horrific then that for me.

 

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