Former Geelong midfielder Simon Hogan has revealed the extent of his struggle with depression, which resulted in him quitting elite football.
Hogan, who played 22 games for the Cats between 2009 and 2011, has spoken about his illness in an AFL Media-produced video titled The Elephant In The Room.
“I was stuck in my own thoughts and was just so frustrated that this had happened to me,” the 25-year-old says in the video, which will be used to educate young players about mental illness.
“I felt really lost, and I guess I just couldn’t see the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t see a way to get out of this wreck that I was in.
“I remember one day, in particular, when dad was home.
“I remember sitting in my room on the floor for about two hours with this bottle of sleeping tablets, and sort of holding them to my mouth a few times.
“Not wanting my life to end, but wanting to end this pain and not knowing how to do it.
“Thankfully, dad came down and sort of broke the spell, and that was really another turning point in realising how serious this illness had got for me.”
Hogan was soon diagnosed with a depressive disorder. He was fearful of the way his Geelong teammates would react to his situation.
“I guess the manliness and the macho culture associated with footy clubs was a big part of why I tried to hide what I was going through,” Hogan explains. “I thought I couldn’t show any weakness.
“The most surprising thing, once I did open up, was the incredible support I got from everyone – from the blokiest of blokes and the people you wouldn’t expect.
“Everyone was so supportive and wanted to help me in any way they could.”
The video in which Hogan speaks so candidly is part of the AFL’s 2014 club education program, which aims to promote safe, welcoming and inclusive environments for everyone involved in football.
Three other videos have been produced, featuring ex-Gold Coast player Joel Wilkinson discussing racism, former Port Melbourne assistant coach Peta Searle talking about the role of women in the game and openly gay grassroots footballer Jason Ball speaking about the impacts of homophobia.
Hogan is proud to have played a role in the program.
“I was happy to tell my story, because it’s important people have a greater understanding that depression is a health issue that can affect anyone at any time,” he says.
“I want to help increase awareness among players and more broadly, because once diagnosed, mental health issues can be treated very effectively.”
Although he now describes himself as being “well”, Hogan still sees a psychologist every three weeks.
“I have also made quite a few lifestyle adjustments, the biggest one being retiring from (AFL) footy at the end of 2012,” he says.
“It was a tough decision. I really loved footy and loved the footy club, and still do.
“(But professional football) wasn’t the right balance for me, and I needed to sort of have a bit more of other things going on in my life.
“I’ve got to study and to work and now can still play (grassroots) footy on the weekends.
“I’m back enjoying footy like I used to as a kid.”
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance or support, please contact:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
For more information about mental health please visit: www.mindhealthconnect.org.au
This article was originally published on afl.com.au and can be accessed here.