What is going wrong in your life?
You're an AFL footballer,
you're living your dream.
I couldn't bear to look at myself and go,
'You know what, you probably need help now.'
What does help even look like?
When I was four months old, dad got
offered a job to move out to Beijing,
and then we moved over to Hong
Kong for another six years.
But I just remember playing so much sport.
And that's where I started playing
rugby when I was about five or six
and that was my introduction to
competitive sport and I used to love it.
We first arrived back in Australia early 2010,
and three days in I went on my first school camp.
And all I can really remember is just thinking
everyone hated me and struggling to fit in.
Eventually I got to a point where I was
stressing about where I was sitting at lunchtime,
who I was going to speak to during the
day, whether I looked like a loner.
I didn't know my first panic
attack was a panic attack.
I couldn't figure out a little problem, I
threw a pen, slammed my head into my desk,
I just had no control over how I was feeling.
I just felt helpless that my mind was
taking control of the rest of my body.
I struggled to understand that people
like me could have things like this go on
because I'd had the picture perfect life so far.
I still remember really intensely
how proud I was when I got drafted,
and Juddy handed me that jumper.
I think the thing I remember the most
is how quickly my emotions changed.
All my exposure to AFL football has been that
they live a perfect life, there are no worries.
Frankly it definitely wasn't the case.
You're struggling with this aggressive anxiety disorder
but you're still
in front of a packed MCG,
how does that even break even?
But there's an aspect of being able to hide
behind the identity that I have out there
and that's probably why it was a safe haven
for me when I was playing AFL football
and why I struggle so much when I'm not.
Like at the time I really
struggled to go back to being me.
How hard that is to conceptualise, that in front
of 80,000 people, you're not under pressure
but at home on your own you are.
- "Gillon Mclachlan today said that footy always
finds a way, and the latest is the entire,
all 10 Victorian clubs being now based in Queensland."
- I found out the day before that we were
flying up to Queensland for 25 days.
Pretty much the second I got up there I
realised that something was really off.
You know, thoughts of self-harm were
well past the point of being worrying.
I sort of started unpacking
why I was even in the industry.
I hadn't enjoyed any of my first two
years and it got to the point where
football wasn't necessarily detrimental to
me but football could no longer save me.
My plan was to retire and forget about football.
I thought that me escaping football was
me escaping my mental health problems.
I didn't like the idea of rehabilitation or didn't
like the idea of taking care
of my mental health either.
In fact, I had these associations with
it that I was a weakling because I had to
and all this stuff that I've been
prejudiced towards since early childhood.
I'd like to think that I'm tough and angry
and all of these things that we think
the perfect 80s or 90s footballer
is, and that's kind of how I grew up.
When it finally became obvious to
other people how much I was battling
the amount of time they put into me to fix things
was the best thing that ever happened to me.
And that's why I'm so big on
telling other people what's going on
because often they have a better
idea of the picture than you do.
The biggest things for me were
the understandings of what was
actually going on hormonally in my brain
and having some way to justify how I was feeling.
So I had a psychologist, a
psychiatrist and medication.
When I finally got to that point where, when I
was in a downhill spiral or something like that,
how I could come back to terms with, 'alright
this is why I'm feeling this way, these are the little things
that I can do to to get away from it,
or give myself a second and
get back in the moment.'
Knowing who I've got in my corner as well
so I don't feel alone even when I'm struggling.
I now realise my purpose in football might be
a little bit bigger than just being good at it.
I'm gonna do everything in my power to make
people feel like suffering like this is okay.
I'm an AFL footballer but I can be human.
I don't have to be this super tough guy.
I know other people struggle,
I know everyone does.
And that's what makes it okay for me to.