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Kiwi O'Brien admits having depression

Press Trust Of India
Jul 10, 2011 at 04:56pm IST

Wellington: The list of cricketers who have battled depression keeps getting longer, with former New Zealand pacer Iain O'Brien becoming the latest to admit that he suffered from the ailment during his entire career.

The former pacer, who turned 35 on Sunday, said he bullied himself into remaining normal even while he battled lows.

"How have I got through to now without doing anything about it? It's different for everyone. But I think I bullied myself into doing things and trying to live normally," O'Brien told Sunday Star Times.

Kiwi O'Brien admits to battling depression

The former pacer said he bullied himself into remaining normal even while he battled lows.

O'Brien said he first experienced depressive lows while representing his university team and continued to have the problem even while representing the national team.

"I'd just got back into the Test team after two-and-a-half years out of the mix but for the first two weeks of our tour to South Africa, I didn't really leave my room. I was just too scared.

"I went and played cricket, went to training and did a bit of shopping. But most nights I'd eat by myself and order room service," he said, recalling the 2007 tour of South Africa.

"The rest of the time I'd either hang out in my room or sit by the pool. Wrapped up in it is how you value and see yourself. I didn't feel as though the guys I was on tour with were equals by any means.

"I didn't want to bother them, so I looked after myself. That's still how I deal with it sometimes even now. If I'm having a few bad days, I'll try to get away from people.

"I probably should have piped up about it earlier on, just around the team and that sort of thing. But it's not easy a thing to talk about," he added.

O'Brien, who played 22 Tests and 10 ODIs taking 73 and 14 wickets respectively, joins the likes of England all-rounder Michael Yardy and former opener Marcus Trescothick in opening up about depression.

"Go back to the very start and you have to ask the question: is it cricket that acts as a catalyst for mental illnesses or is it the people who are drawn to it?

"I'm serious here because the sport does kick your arse very quickly. You can have a great day and then be a nobody the next.

"If you went around the dressing room, you could pick someone who was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, you could pick someone with Asperger's Syndrome and then there's those affected by depression.

"There would be a small minority who would actually be quite normal," he said.

O'Brien said despite the problems, he has battled, he is determined to lead a normal life.

"A couple of cricketers over here, once they'd finished playing county cricket, didn't know what to do with themselves, so they committed suicide. I don't want to be one of those statistics," he said.

"I don't want this to fester away either. I've never been quite that low but I've certainly been on the way to being that low. I don't want to deal with that. I don't want my wife and my daughter to deal with me like that," he added.

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