Sam Hutchinson believes his personal battle against depression has made him a stronger person.
For a footballer who has had to scrap just to revive a career which forced him to retire at Chelsea when he was 21 due to a degenerative knee condition, Hutchinson is no stranger to battles.
Now 26 and battling to return to the Premier League with Sheffield Wednesday, the combative midfielder has revealed the dark times he endured after injuries ended his Stamford Bridge career.
He suffered insomnia, pushed away family members, and even sought help at The Priory clinic to treat his depression.
He spoke for the first time about his troubles in a national newspaper interview last week to try and raise awareness in sport that depression knows no sporting boundaries.
“I did the piece not for people to feel sorry for me, but to raise awareness for others,” said Hutchinson, who had been at Chelsea since he was seven years old.
“It was a long time ago. Everyone reacts differently, I reacted to certain situations in a different way to what others will.
“It was the first time I was honest with someone. I just didn’t give the same generic answer.
“I have grown up and certain issues had to be spoken about.
“I pushed my family away, the only one I didn’t was my wife.
“That was lucky, because she saved me, pulled me out of it and made me play football again. Now, I am probably the happiest I have ever been, with my kids and everything.
“It’s made me stronger and more mature. I was always quite strong, because I had to put up with the injuries.”
Hutchinson has previously been spared some Owls training sessions to manage his long-standing knee problem.
But new head coach Carlos Carvalhal has certainly had an impact on his career.
“Yeah, he makes me train every day, which has helped,” revealed Hutchinson. “If I don’t train now the aches and pains come back a little bit. The more I do is helping me.”
He has made 27 appearances this season, already the highest in a single campaign for the midfielder – an illustration of how injuries have taken their toll.
His all-action style has also brought 12 yellow cards, but Hutchinson revealed a few niggling injuries had forced him to “calm down” and actually improve his disciplinary record.
“The injury is fine, it’s something I have had to manage,” said Hutchinson. “Last month really hasn’t been the best for me, but I felt good on Tuesday at Brighton.
“I picked up the injury at Birmingham in the tackle, I don’t really know what was wrong. Fingers crossed I am over it.
“The only thing that has calmed me down is probably I was feeling a couple of niggles, and couldn’t get around the pitch as much.
“I won’t ever calm down, it’s not my character. Sometimes you need it, that’ my make-up and it won’t change. I am not generally like it off the pitch and I am not one to get myself into any trouble.
“That’s how I have made a career in the game, thus far, so I am not going to change.”
A fit Hutchinson is key over the remaining 10 games if Wednesday are to earn a place in the play-offs.
They sit in sixth place ahead of today’s trip to Nottingham Forest, where Hutchinson played on loan in 2012-13, but have failed to win in their last five outings.
Hutchinson played in 0-0 draws at Hull City and Brighton & HA, but missed defeats to Rotherham United and Preston North End, plus the 1-1 home draw with QPR.
But he said: “There’s no panic, none whatsoever. We are still in the play-offs.
“It’s hard when you have a little slump, but you are going to have it throughout a season.
“Middlesbrough are going through it, at the moment, too.
“We are not getting beat badly by teams, 1-0 here, an unlucky decision there.
“We played well the other night when we went to Brighton, who are flying, having put four past Leeds the previous home game.
“We drew 0-0 and were probably unlucky not to come away with a 1-0 victory. We will be a stronger team when we come out of it.
“We have the confidence now, going into every game thinking we should win it. We have the squad, great manager, backroom staff.
“The only thing we don’t have is facilities, but they will be coming, hopefully.”
One goal in their last five games shows where Wednesday’s problem has been, and today’s return of suspended top scorer Fernando Forestieri should help.
Hutchinson is not expecting to find the net himself, having scored only one goal this season, against Arsenal in the League Cup.
“I am never allowed to cross the halfway line, so there’s no chance of a goal,” he joked. “The one against Arsenal will do me for the rest of the season.
“I don’t really care about goals, if we stop them, that’s my job.
“It’s important (to get a win), but we are keeping clean sheets, we are a collective as a team and we are doing the job we need to do.
“Obviously, it’s important to score goals, and we are all trying to win games.
“Having Fernando (Forestieri) back in the team, hopefully, will be a big shout.
“We are in a good position, a good place, both as a team and as a squad.
“It’s a mini-slump and I can’t really see it lasting that long with the quality we have in the squad.”
For more information on dealing with depression visit The Priory Group’s help page HERE