As humans, I’ve felt that our natural instinct is to always overthink or over-complicate matters.

And as anyone who has ever suffered from any form of anxiety or depression will tell you, the longer it takes for you to talk about your mental health issues, the larger your problems seem to become. 

It goes without saying, that simply opening up and talking about your problems can be life-saving. Even if the person listening can’t offer any advice, sometimes just talking to someone else makes such a difference.

I had fair bit of depression earlier on in my life when I was 18 years of age. I remember it was not too long after I finished high school, and I was feeling a little bit lost with where I was in life. 

I’m someone that really likes a lot of structure and for the first time in my life, I was waking up everyday without direction and without purpose. 

Coming out of high school, I had no idea where I wanted to go with my life or what I wanted to do. I finally worked out I wanted to study education at University and four years later, I was a qualified teacher. Then with the emergence of the AFLW competition, women’s footy gave me another path to follow. 

After the first season of AFLW there was a lot of hype, for obvious reasons; that was super exciting, and I had a very good season and probably did a lot better than I expected to go in the competition. 

Then coming into the second season with the Brisbane Lions, I don’t know..I’d sort of gone through a lot personally where I suppose different things had changed within the dynamic of the team and I just wasn’t really sure how to approach the season ahead.

The last thing I wanted to do was be at football. The external hype that was there a season earlier had gone away and I was finding it really hard to motivate myself. I just felt like much of what I was doing was becoming redundant and you have to remember that the AFLW season makes up only a small period of our annual calendars.

During the off-season, I was at the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and I didn’t want to do anything during the day. I had been given a pre-pre season program to do and everyday I wasn’t completing it, I would feel more and more guilty.

It wasn’t until about two months out from the season that I decided enough was enough and I needed to go and see the team doctor and talk to him about what was going on. 

There would be days prior to preseason where I would literally not want to get out of bed… the only thing in my life that made me somewhat happy was my little dachshund, Nacho.

Obviously, my family was a massive support during the process, but I was living in my own place and asking for help wasn’t always the easiest thing. But little Nacho would always be there and there would be times where I didn’t want to do anything.

Sometimes we would run and get his ball or run and get his lead…. just to get me out of the house so I could take him to the park or for a walk.

Honestly, as silly as it may sound, Nacho saved my mental health with the way that he was and the way that he has been being such a good companion. 

Always being there and taking him out for walks, because you know how much physical exercise improves mental health, even just things like a little dog walk or taking him to the park and socialising with other people and their dogs.

I really think that he really, really helped me through such a really tough time. 

The fact that you, as a dog owner, are their most important person in their life and they make you feel…I don’t know they just love you so unconditionally and no matter how crap things are, how bad things have gone through the day, he’s always there and it’s the greatest thing, he’s just so excited to see you, it’s so nice.

I know a lot of people think I am a crazy dog lady, but hey, don’t judge until you’ve had a dog yourself! I mean I did dedicate a goal in AFLW 3.0 to him, so maybe I am a crazy dog lady….

But you do need to seek help and I did exactly that by going to the team doctor, which as tough as it was, I learned was a massively courageous act in itself.

Our club doctor couldn’t have been any better about the situation.  He was just like ‘Look I think you’ve sort of come at the right time’.

I mean I should have probably done something a little bit earlier which would’ve made last year a lot easier, considering I would have gone into the season in far better shape physically.

I know there tends to be a little bit of stigma around mental health but I have no issue of admitting that I’ve had mental health issues… everyone goes through some form of mental health demons.

We all just feel it but in different ways. But I wasn’t really too worried I suppose because I just knew that I was at the point that I just needed some help with it all because it was becoming a little bit too much.

The message to anyone else going through anything, is talk to anyone that you can talk to; whether it’s just a family member, friend, anyone.. a professional, just talking to someone else can make a massive difference.

Because once you sort of get it all out it’s a big part to helping get yourself back on track.

I make sure that when I’m not feeling great, I’m going and talking to our team psychologist. And obviously our season is so short, it’s such an emotional roller coaster from week to week.

I think just making sure that you get on top of things as they come about and working them out and remembering it’s just a game of football at the end of the day.