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What is going wrong in your life?

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You're an AFL footballer, 
you're living your dream.

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I couldn't bear to look at myself and go, 
'You know what, you probably need help now.'

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What does help even look like?

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When I was four months old, dad got 
offered a job to move out to Beijing,

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and then we moved over to Hong 
Kong for another six years.

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But I just remember playing so much sport.

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And that's where I started playing 
rugby when I was about five or six

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and that was my introduction to 
competitive sport and I used to love it.

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We first arrived back in Australia early 2010, 
and three days in I went on my first school camp.

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And all I can really remember is just thinking 
everyone hated me and struggling to fit in.

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Eventually I got to a point where I was 
stressing about where I was sitting at lunchtime,

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who I was going to speak to during the 
day, whether I looked like a loner.

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I didn't know my first panic 
attack was a panic attack.

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I couldn't figure out a little problem, I 
threw a pen, slammed my head into my desk,

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I just had no control over how I was feeling.

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I just felt helpless that my mind was 
taking control of the rest of my body.

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I struggled to understand that people 
like me could have things like this go on

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because I'd had the picture perfect life so far.

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I still remember really intensely 
how proud I was when I got drafted,

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and Juddy handed me that jumper.

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I think the thing I remember the most 
is how quickly my emotions changed.

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All my exposure to AFL football has been that 
they live a perfect life, there are no worries.

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Frankly it definitely wasn't the case.

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You're struggling with this aggressive anxiety disorder

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but you're still 
in front of a packed MCG,

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how does that even break even?

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But there's an aspect of being able to hide 
behind the identity that I have out there

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and that's probably why it was a safe haven 
for me when I was playing AFL football

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and why I struggle so much when I'm not.

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Like at the time I really 
struggled to go back to being me.

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How hard that is to conceptualise, that in front 
of 80,000 people, you're not under pressure

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but at home on your own you are.

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- "Gillon Mclachlan today said that footy always 
finds a way, and the latest is the entire,

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all 10 Victorian clubs being now based in Queensland."

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- I found out the day before that we were 
flying up to Queensland for 25 days.

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Pretty much the second I got up there I 
realised that something was really off.

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You know, thoughts of self-harm were 
well past the point of being worrying.

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I sort of started unpacking 
why I was even in the industry.

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I hadn't enjoyed any of my first two 
years and it got to the point where

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football wasn't necessarily detrimental to 
me but football could no longer save me.

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My plan was to retire and forget about football.

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I thought that me escaping football was 
me escaping my mental health problems.

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I didn't like the idea of rehabilitation or didn't

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like the idea of taking care 
of my mental health either.

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In fact, I had these associations with 
it that I was a weakling because I had to

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and all this stuff that I've been 
prejudiced towards since early childhood.

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I'd like to think that I'm tough and angry 
and all of these things that we think

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the perfect 80s or 90s footballer 
is, and that's kind of how I grew up.

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When it finally became obvious to 
other people how much I was battling

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the amount of time they put into me to fix things 
was the best thing that ever happened to me.

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And that's why I'm so big on 
telling other people what's going on

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because often they have a better 
idea of the picture than you do.

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The biggest things for me were 
the understandings of what was

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actually going on hormonally in my brain

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and having some way to justify how I was feeling.

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So I had a psychologist, a 
psychiatrist and medication.

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When I finally got to that point where, when I 
was in a downhill spiral or something like that,

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how I could come back to terms with, 'alright

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this is why I'm feeling this way, these are the little things

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that I can do to to get away from it,

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or give myself a second and 
get back in the moment.'

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Knowing who I've got in my corner as well

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so I don't feel alone even when I'm struggling.

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I now realise my purpose in football might be 
a little bit bigger than just being good at it.

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I'm gonna do everything in my power to make 
people feel like suffering like this is okay.

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I'm an AFL footballer but I can be human.

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I don't have to be this super tough guy.

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I know other people struggle, 
I know everyone does.

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And that's what makes it okay for me to.