In recent years more and more men have begun to open up and talk about their mental health. Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of those men. In the past the snooker star has talked about his fight with depression, a condition he calls “snooker depression” as it is brought on by the act of playing snooker. After his victory over Mark Allen, he told the BBC how he manages the condition during the game.
Describing the match as emotionally hard O’Sullivan said he’s not: “sitting there weeping and crying. As a sportsman you go through a lot of emotions out there and a lot of this word mental health is thrown about, I call it snooker depression.”
O’Sullivan added he doubts he’s alone in feeling this way saying: “Golfers probably get golf depression, tennis players probably get tennis depression. I’m sure if you ask Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis (fellow snooker players), they’d probably tell you the same thing”.
Overall O’Sullivan says it’s about “just learning to cope with it, to manage it and to try enjoy it, have a bit of fun out there”.
Even though the snooker legend is no doubt pleased with his victory the star appeared relieved to be away from the baize remarking: “Now it’s over I can breathe”.
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This isn’t the first time O’Sullivan has discussed his snooker depression before.
In 2019 he told reporters: “I find it hard to talk about my games, I have snooker depression for two or three hours after my matches. Talking about it puts me in a bad place.
“I call it snooker depression because it is depression due to snooker. I don’t just wake up and say ‘I’m depressed’ – you aren’t when you are doing something you enjoy.”
O’Sullivan appears stuck in an unusual position where what enjoys doing is also the trigger for a mental health condition many struggle to manage.
Just like other conditions depression is not just one state, it can be mild, moderate, or severe.
Furthermore, in common with other mental health conditions, it can have a number of triggers.
Understanding these triggers, degrees of severity, and the variety of symptoms of mental conditions is something the wider public is just beginning to understand.
As the UK moves further into a post-lockdown world, there will need to be a greater level of support and investment into the health system to support and treat those who are suffering alone.