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A tale of recovery from a former footballer

When ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle went missing in 2017 he thought everyone would be better off without him. We hear from him and his wife about recovery from the brink of suicide

When ex-footballer Clarke Carlisle went missing in 2017 his wife Carrie thought the worst: he had severe depression and had already attempted to take his own life.

Found safely after appeals on social media, he then spent weeks in a psychiatric hospital and 18 months in therapy.

Clarke’s whole sense of identity was tied up with football and the buzz it gave him. He recalls how a knee injury at 21 made him feel like a failure, pushing him towards destructive behaviours with alcohol and marathon computer game sessions.

Carrie responds to the question sometimes asked by well-meaning people: How could he put you through this?

“Clarke didn’t put me through anything. This illness [severe depression] invades and puts all of you through it collectively.”

The Carlisles share their tips for recovery: asking for professional help; talking openly to their children about feelings; their daily marks-out-of-ten check-in; how much the Pixar film Inside Out teaches them and their family about emotional resilience.

(Photo caption: Former footballer and broadcaster Clarke Carlisle and his wife Carrie Carlisle – credit: BBC)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond

Producer: Paula McGrath

Available now

27 minutes