During Taylor Adams’ first two years with the Giants, he was in a bad headspace, which led to the 13th pick in the 2011 draft feeling anxious.
In his heart, he knew a move back to Victoria was the decision he had to make, but he was worried about letting those around him down.
Adams opened up to AFLPLayers.com.au about the anxiety he experienced when seeking a trade in ‘Courageous Conversations’, a series featuring AFL players talking about mental health, in partnership with the Movember Foundation, aimed at reducing the stigma around mental illness and increasing mental health literacy across the AFL industry and wider community.
When speaking about how he felt during his final year at the Giants, Adams says his mental state was affecting his ability to play at the highest level.
“I started thinking about leaving the Giants really early into my first contract, probably within the first six months, because I wasn’t happy there,” he said.
“My mental state wasn’t where I thought it should have been to be playing professional AFL football and there was definitely some anxious times.”
After feeling that a move back to his native Victoria was the right option for his future, Adams became apprehensive at the thought of telling Leon Cameron and his teammates about his decision to return home.
What made Adams’ emotions feel worse was when he felt the decision to return home had disappointed those closest to him.
“Leading up to the final decision I was really nervous to tell Leon (Cameron) and the coaching staff, but also all the players and my friends that I’d made up there,” Adams said.
“There was a lot of self-doubt. I felt like I was a little withdrawn when I’d say no to dinners and catching up with mates.”
“The conversation with Leon… he was a little bit surprised by my decision, that made it all the more difficult to leave, but deep down I knew that it was probably the right move.”
In a much publicised trade, Adams was traded to Collingwood, involving a deal which saw a straight swap with Heath Shaw in 2013.
After initially leaving the Giants, however, Adams still couldn’t shake the feeling of anxiousness, until he turned to his close family and opened up to them for support.
It’s those moments where Adams opened up to his family which made him feel like he could overcome his feelings.
It’s something Adams is passionate about letting people know, especially young men, that it’s OK to talk about your emotions.
“I think young men are more inclined to bottle things up and think we can handle everything by ourselves and that it’s seen as almost weak to speak up and I couldn’t be more passionate about that being the complete opposite to what the truth is,” Adams said.
“I think the more that we can open up as young people and break the stigma and break that weakness or softness about asking for help and confiding in people, then the better off we are going to be.”
To highlight how the definition of courage has evolved in the players’ eyes, the AFL playing group has made the decision to expand the selection criteria for the AFL Players’ Most Courageous Award, presented by the Movember Foundation, to ensure that courageous off-field acts are recognised alongside on-field actions.
The players have also donated $60,000 to the Movember Foundation through the AFL Players Care program. The money will support men’s mental health initiatives and assist the foundation to reach its 2030 goal to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25 per cent.
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