Former Premier League player Clarke Carlisle has opened up in a powerful Newsnight interview about his ongoing battle with depression and his attempt at suicide last December. The father-of-three, who previously played for Burnley, Leeds United and QPR, spoke poignantly about the day he tried to take his own life.
"There's an accumulation of things that happened over the course of three years that brought me to that point; in conjunction with the fact I was at the ebb of one of the most intense depressive episodes of my life," he explained.
Clarke opened up about his ongoing battle with depression and his attempt at suicide
Clarke, 35, suffered from cuts, bruises, internal bleeding, a broken rib and smashed left knee when he was hit by a lorry travelling on the A64 near York on 22 December, 2014.
He still has visible scars on his face and head from the incident, which he described as a "blessing" because he has been "given a second chance". The former footballer went on to describe breaking the "traumatic" news to his three children aged 16, seven and four: "My eldest daughter was absolutely outstanding and has a level of understanding which made it easier for her to comprehend.
"With my youngest it was much more difficult to convey that message to them. I was blessed I was able to sit down with them and talk them through it."
But Clarke, who has helped to launch a Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness, said he was unable to promise his loved ones that he won’t ever attempt suicide again.
The former footballer played for Burnley, Leeds United and QPR
"One of the hardest things to say is when your wife says to you: 'Promise me you won't go there again?'," he revealed, adding: "I can't promise that. How can I promise the unknown? I can't do that. I suffer from depression, depression is with me on a daily basis."
He continued: "What I can promise is every day I will do my upmost to maintain my mental wellness and mental health, but we are talking about the unknown and I can’t make promises I can't keep."
Speaking at the launch of the Mental Health Charter, he made it clear that his attempted suicide is not something he is ashamed of. "People are delicate stepping around it - there's no shame invested in it for me," he said. "I attempted suicide because I was very unwell."
He added: "I'm managing my illness on a daily basis and I can tell you today I'm very well."
How do you spot the warning signs that either you or a loved one might be suffering from depression?
Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital says: "Depression can present itself in different ways, in different personalities. However, most people will lose their general enthusiasm for life, reduce their social activities and may appear more unhappy, tired and inattentive."
When and how would you recommend seeking help?
Dr Tom Stevens, Consultant Psychiatrist at London Bridge Hospital says: "Depression can often get better by itself. The first step should be to discuss the problem with those closest to you. The extra support from those who you trust can often be helpful while waiting for things to get better. However, if the problem is starting to impact on relationships and work, or has been going on for some time then it is worth seeking help. The first step in these circumstances should be your general practitioner. If depression is starting to lead to you feeling that life is not worth living and you are fearful that you might do something, then it is important to get help as soon as possible."