Clarke Carlisle on depression: 'It's the lowest place you can possibly be...you rationalise the option of suicide'

'I've been given another opportunity in life'

Kiran Moodley
Tuesday 31 March 2015 09:52 BST
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Clarke Carlisle.
Clarke Carlisle. (Shaun Botterill | Getty Images)

Clarke Carlisle has described in detail the painful and powerful hold of his depression that led to him being convicted of drink-driving and attempting to commit suicide.

The former footballer admitted that he tried to kill himself last year by walking in front of a lorry on the A64 near York. He left just hospital just over a month ago and still has the scars from the incident. It was revealed that Carlisle had been charged with a drink-driving offence on 20 December, just two days before the accident.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Carlisle said that during his depressive episode he was at "the lowest place that you can possibly be".

"You know at 35, I've had experience in life, I've got three beautiful children, I was married, and you get something that comes over you that takes your eyes off all of that and actually rationalises the option of committing suicide," he said. "You know that you must be at your lowest ebb."

Carlisle said that the scars on his face sometimes made him "disgusted" at what he attempted, but that they also were a reminder of a "second chance".

"It still feels very real. They’re a constant reminder," he said, referring to the scars. "Sometimes, it disgusts me that something can get a hold of your mind so strongly and grip you so powerfully to take you away from the things that you love. But today, on a daily basis, they remind me of how blessed I am and I've been given another opportunity in life."

Carlisle, who enjoyed stints as a player at QPR, Leeds, Watford, Luton Town, York City and Northampton Town, was also chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA). He said that he was receiving help with his depression before December's incident and that the PFA had offered him "fantastic support".

Yet Carlisle admitted that he did not help himself as much as he should have, saying that "the vast majority of help (with depression) is self-help".

"I wasn't doing the things that I should have been doing to maintain my mental well-being and once you start getting into a spiral of secrecy and masking your emotions and running away then it is exactly that; you spiral down and its incredibly difficult to stop."

Carlisle also responded to Tweets sent by Ralf Little that some deemed inappropriate.

Carlisle, who used to live with Little, simply said that "because of my chaotic lifestyle, I hurt him and there are consequences to those actions. Just like the fact that I’m in court for my behaviours while I was in my depressive episode, I’m not sat here asking for absolution of responsibility there’s a just an element of understanding and awareness that I think needs to raise in society about the illness."

The former PFA chairman was also asked about Katie Hopkins' comments about depression after it was revealed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had struggled with the illness and had been treated for suicidal tendencies. Lubitz killed 149 people when he plunged Germanwings flight 9525 into the French Alps last week.

Hopkins tweeted: "People with depression do not need a doctor and a bottle of something that rattles. They need a pair of running shoes and fresh air."

Carlisle responded: "Katie Hopkins clearly doesn’t understand depression and hasn’t grasped the fact that it’s a illness. People who say pull yourself together – it’s no more an option to not be depressed than its an option to not have flu...It needs diagnosing."

Good Morning Britain also asked Carlisle whether he still thought about the lorry driver who hit him last December.

He said: "I think about him and pray for him everyday."

Anyone in need of confidential support can contact the Samaritans in the UK 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90.

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