Former Cambridge United midfielder Ruth Fox will be a special guest speaker today at the PFA’s Injured.Two mental health and emotional wellbeing conference taking place at St George’s Park.
The 19-year-old, has spoken openly spoke about her battle with mental health issues and how she hopes to use her experiences to help others suffering from depression.
“I felt very isolated and alone, I really struggled to be with anyone.
“I felt like I had a duty to be happy, as I’d had a really strong family, was financial stable, I went to a private school and all of that, and I felt like ‘what have you got to be depressed about?’
“That was the overriding feeling for me… I couldn’t even socialise with my friends and was crying for days and days on end but had no idea why.”
“For me at that time, I couldn’t deal with the social side of football, the comradery of the team.
“I also lost a lot of weight, I was controlling what I was eating. It was incredibly challenging.
“I felt the stigma immediately. If people asked me why I wasn’t in school, I just said I was ill – I didn’t specify that I was mentally ill.
“Mental illness was something that I had never heard of… or let alone come across.
“In November, I reached a real, real low point and I actually attempted to take my own life twice.
“Everytime I got in the car, I had visualisations of crashing the car. I remember getting out of my car and standing by a road for hours and hours, just considering jumping.”
Fox has used football as a release and whilst sport can come with its own with pressures, she says her club has handled it all very well.
“For 90 minutes a week, I could just completely forget about everything
“I’m very lucky that my coaches offered me support in my darkest times, but I’m very aware that some other coaches wouldn’t have been the same and my aspiration is that every single coach is at least aware of mental health and the issues that players can face.
“I know what it is like to lose hope, I know what it is like to reach a point in my life where there was nothing left to give, it was a horrific place to be.”
The PFA’s Injured.Two mental health and emotional wellbeing conference is in its second year and brings together health-care providers from football clubs around the country with the aim of fostering a more integrated approach to mental health in football.
Fox concludes: “’Injured’ encompasses both physical and mental health. We are talking the talk with mental health now, it’s time we walk the walk.”
Ruth Fox has written a book about her experiences, which is available to pre-order now at Amazon - Within the White Lines: How the Beautiful Game Saved my Life (The Inspirational Series).
Getting support via the PFA…
The PFA provides members with a 24/7 counselling telephone helpline. This 'round-the-clock' support is available to all members past and present.
All services are private and confidential, PFA members (or concerned friends and family) can contact the PFA:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PFA Members can call the 24hr Counselling Helpline: 07500 000 777