Paul Merson: Sky Sports pundit opens up on battle with depression
Last Updated: 04/01/20 11:11am
Paul Merson has revealed his battles with depression left him wanting to take his own life, but the former Arsenal midfielder hopes speaking out will help others in their own mental health struggles.
The start of all of the FA Cup third-round ties will be delayed for 60 seconds to encourage people to 'Take A Minute' to consider their well-being.
The campaign is a collaboration between Public Health England's Every Mind Matters and the Football Association and Heads Together's Heads Up campaign, one which is also being supported by the Duke of Cambridge.
Merson enjoyed a successful playing career with Arsenal, winning the First Division championship twice as well as the FA Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup.
The Sky Sports pundit was capped 21 times by England and also had playing spells at Middlesbrough, Aston Villa and Portsmouth.
Merson's off-field battles, though, have continued to prove a struggle against alcoholism, drugs and a gambling addiction.
Writing in a column for the Daily Star, Merson opened up on how the situation had left him feeling at rock bottom 12 months ago.
"On Monday I'll have been sober for a year. But this time last year, I wanted to kill myself," Merson said.
"I couldn't go on any more. I just couldn't see a way out. I had the tablets in my hand. I didn't take enough to do anything but I had them there. With vodka. It was scary.
"It was only because of the kids really, and my wife, and a little bit of consciousness, that I didn't.
"Fear probably as well. I was scared to do it. When you're in that place, you don't see how it's ever going to pass. But I have the tools now. If I get into a real down situation, I know it will pass.
"So when I see this weekend's FA Cup games kicking off a minute later to raise awareness for mental health I will remember that time when things got dark and think: 'Thank god that's not how I feel any more.'
"I'm telling you this because I hope it helps someone. If even one person reads this and it helps them, then it will be worth it."