Kirk Dixon - my fight with depression

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It’s not common knowledge but I was actually diagnosed with depression by my GP earlier this year.

It is a State of Mind-themed round in Super League this week so we’re trying to raise awareness of mental health issues and the great work that organisation does.

Hopefully, I can help do that by talking about my own experience.

It was halfway through this season when I was feeling down.

Everything was getting to me and it started to affect my home life and things like that.

Sometimes you can’t talk to your loved ones about certain issues and you want to talk to someone impartial so State of Mind is a fantastic cause.

I also, privately, actually met a counsellor from the Sporting Chance clinic.

He was a great bloke. He didn’t judge me or anything and he was there to help me through my problems.

I had been struggling and doing the usual thing of a rugby player – not wanting to open up.

Given the nature of the sport we play in, we tend to put a front on and don’t put our hand up when we need help.

Yet it can affect any human being.

I think people reckon the life of a professional sportsman is something where you can just do whatever you want and everything’s always great – but that’s not the case.

It can hurt some of the stuff you read or hear about yourself. You are in the public eye and, depending on what sort of character you are, you can react in different ways. It can certainly affect you.

Once you do start to talk to people and open up – and I did tell some people – it’s amazing how many others in the sport are in the same situation.

A few of the boys can understand where I’m coming from and appreciate what I’m talking about.

It’s good to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a bit of a dark place.

I can really sympathise with people who have been through it now.

It had been just a culmination of things that got on top of me.

Things like probably not being 100 per cent after the injuries I’ve had in the last few years and also the fact we weren’t playing well as a team at Castleford (Tigers) at the time.

It all built up and became a big thing. I was feeling down and when it all came together it did affect me.

I kept telling myself ‘It’s not that, it’s not that’ and convinced myself I was ill.

Fortunately, I’ve got a great family around me and I did eventually get diagnosed with depression. It has helped and I am feeling a lot better now.

But it underlines the work that State of Mind – and Sporting Chance – do.

It is a really worthwhile cause. It’s been well-documented that once you finish your playing career, things can change and times can become difficult but also during your career too.

To have someone there who you can go to, to talk to and just run things by is a great concept.

Obviously, we all know what tragically happened to Terry Newton.

If you can have someone of his calibre suffering it shows how many it can affect.

Unfortunately, for him and his family, he didn’t confront it quick enough.

But now, with this State of Mind round, including our game against Bradford Bulls tomorrow, it is building the profile so hopefully more people feel able to seek help when they do need it.

I am certainly glad I did.

Interview by Dave Craven