IAIN RUSSELL, the Queen of the South striker, has admitted there were days when he "didn't want to wake up in the morning" during his ongoing struggle with depression.
Russell was speaking at the first screening of Mind Games: Mental Health in Scottish Football, an educational film produced by PFA Scotland, the players' union, in conjunction with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and 'see me', Scotland's campaign to end stigma attached to mental health. Russell and Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, both feature in the 15-minute short discussing their experiences with the illness.
Russell was 28 years old when he first began to show signs of depression, the then Livingston forward hitting what he describes as "rock bottom". Now 31, the player says he has "more good days than bad" after receiving support from his managers, team-mates, family and PFA Scotland, and hoped that by speaking publicly about the condition it would encourage others in a similar position to seek out help.
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"I went to see a doctor and he prescribed me anti-depressants," he said. "But I didn't think I needed them - and that's where the lies started. I said I was taking them when I was hiding them; I wasn't eating, I was going into training and just hiding away in the toilets not wanting to speak to the boys. I took six weeks off because, with not eating, my body shut down and I got a viral infection. I was quite ill. That was definitely my lowest point. I didn't want to get up in the morning. Sometimes I didn't even want to wake up in the morning.
"The main reason I am doing this [speaking about it] is to help anybody out there. I have played with boys, I'm still playing with boys, who are struggling. I would encourage people to confide in someone, because they will be surprised by how people react."
Lennon, who has spoken publicly about depression in the past, admits in the film that his condition was so severe that not even an Old Firm victory over Rangers could lift his mood. "I played in Celtic-Rangers games where I've no recollection of the game," he revealed. "I remember winning 2-0 at Ibrox and the dressing room was euphoric. I was just sitting in the corner relieved it was over, wanting to go home and close the door, turn off the light and not speak to anybody.
"I got better through taking anti-depressants. The way the doctor described it to me was simple. If you've got a cold, you take a paracetamol. So there's no reason why you
can't take an anti-depressant for depression."