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Matt Tootle opens up on mental health struggles


Joe Jones

Notts County defender Matt Tootle has opened up on his battles with anxiety and depression, saying nobody is immune from mental health struggles and urging people to seek help.

The 26-year-old revealed how he had enjoyed a superb season at Crewe Alexandra going into the summer of 2014, but "something then just triggered" in his mind while he was on holiday in the off-season.

Speaking during Mental Awareness Week, Tootle told Leigh Curtis of the Nottingham Post: "I was on top of the world. There was talk of a move to Blackburn, Burnley and Nottingham Forest and as any player who has been at Crewe will tell you, and given the club's history, it's all about 'that' move.

"I went on holiday and something then just triggered in my mind. I was reading the newspapers and there was so much bad news happening to good people. Then I just started thinking deeply about life and how you can be happy at one moment but knowing it can all change in an instant.

"It hit me a bit and I just started panicking, thinking I hope that doesn't happen to me. Those thoughts then become obsessive and they snowball. Anxiety took hold and in the end you keep on recycling those thoughts over and over and over again. It was the worst week of my life.

"After that I returned back to Crewe for the following season and I played 16 or 17 games and just wasn't at it. What was going on in my mind was just too important. I was sweating, hiding in my own house and it just got ridiculous. It got to the stage where it was affecting my reputation. Crewe fans were probably thinking 'why is he rubbish all of a sudden?'.

"I eventually told my mum and she said I just needed to give myself a break. I told Steve Davis, who was the manager, and the physio about what I was going through.

"The fans had no idea what was going on and they probably thought I was trying to force a move because it was the end of November and I just stopped playing.

"But I went to the Priory Clinic and they then sent me for cognitive therapy. If you have any kind of anxiety or anything like that, if you can begin to understand it then you can deal with it."

"We should be talking about this every day let alone one week of year. The problems with mental health is that you can't see it.

"If you see some guy with a broken leg in casualty and there's another just sat there with his head in his hands, you think the guy with the leg is worse because you can see he's in pain. But people suffer in silence and this is what we've got to address."

Read the entire Matt Tootle interview on the Nottingham Post by clicking here.

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