Only a Game? - Depression in sport is not a load of balls

England's Jonathan Trott.
England's Jonathan Trott.

When will people realise that sport is only a distraction?

If the Ashes ceased to exist tomorrow morning would Planet Earth continue to orbit the sun? Yes. Would there still be plenty of things for the human race to converse about? Yes.

Why is it then, when something as important as someone’s mental health comes to the fore in the world of sport it gets trivialised to the nth degree.

Depression is just as real an illness as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. And like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, depression can kill.

South African-born test cricketer, Jonathan Trott, withdrew from the winter Ashes in Australia earlier this week.

Trott cited a long-standing stress-related condition for his decision to fly back to England but for some reason, Aussie cricketer David Warner thought he was well within his right to label Trott “poor and weak”.

Warner has since admitted that he went too far with his comments but the fact that he and so many other men and women would think the same way is very worrying.

If Trott had withdrawn because of a cancer diagnosis or had he withdrawn because of a brain tumour, would Warner or anyone else for that matter have labelled him “poor and weak”? Absolutely not. So why do some people think it acceptable to belittle those suffering from anxiety, stress or depression?

The answer is very, very simple - ignorance and a serious lack of contrition.

Depression affects the lives of not only sports men and women but the lives of people from all walks of life.

Depression knows no social boundaries and just because a person is a successful sports man or woman does not guarantee that they will be exempt from the awfulness that depression can visit upon them.

German goalkeeper, Robert Enke, took his own life after battling with depression and former footballers Stan Collymore, Clark Carlisle and Leon McKenzie have spoken openly about their experience with the illness.

Whether people want to admit it or not, depression, anxiety and stress related conditions are serious, real and need to be talked about.

The only way David Warner and people who hold similar opinions to him can ever be made see the error of their ways is by other people conversing about depression openly, honestly and without fear of being demeaned or judged.

Treatment for depression does not always leave a physical mark like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Sometimes a person suffering from depression might look fit and healthy but what is going on inside their head is just as devastating as any other illness.

Ignorance and a lack of contrition is not exclusive to just Australian crickets like David Warner.

It’s sad to say but many others think the same and utter the words ‘pull yourself together’ when someone is suffering from depression.

Would they say the same thing to someone with cancer or multiple sclerosis? No. Then they shouldn’t say it to someone with depression.

Depression is an illness and those suffering from it should be helped as opposed to hindered.