Thursday, December 03, 2015

Monty Panesar opens up about his mental health

Monty Panesar bowling for Sussex at Grace Road, Leicester

The England team is desperately short of spin bowlers. Yet we do have a 33-year-old who has taken 167 test wickets and has taken five wickets in an innings 12 times.

Monty Panesar is the forgotten man of English cricket, yet at his best he would walk into the test team.

Over the last couple of seasons there have been stories that he has become difficult to manage, with commentators hinting that there are deeper problems they cannot talk about.

Now Panesar himself has opened up about his problems in the Guardian:
“I was suffering from paranoid thinking,” said Panesar, who hopes by opening up about his mental health problems, past troubles can be better understood. “I was low on confidence, in denial and did not engage with team-mates or coaches. The world felt against me and I gave over-the-top reactions to small things.” 
Last April Panesar considered walking away from cricket altogether – “I fell out of love with the game and life in general” – only to be talked out of it and into professional help by Neil Burns, the former Somerset wicketkeeper who now works as his mentor. 
Having dealt well with celebrity status after his Test debut in Nagpur in 2006, he realised he needed outside assistance when regular approaches from well-meaning supporters on the street no longer felt as easy as they once did. 
“When I was unwell, it all felt quite intrusive and that helped me realise I had a problem. When what was previously normal in life became difficult, it made me realise all was not well with me.”
I wish him a full recovery and hope to see him back bowling for England one day soon.

Not only will opening up help Panesar, it will help the wider public's understanding of mental health.

Certainly, it was an education to learn that a positive, aggressive and uncomplicated batsman like Marcus Trescothick, who did so much to set the tempo for the innings and show other sides we were not afraid of them, could suffer from depression.

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