Coronavirus: Paul Merson reveals struggle without football - 'Some days have been really hard'
Paul Merson: "With mental health issues, the last thing you want to do is isolate"
Last Updated: 14/04/20 7:08pm
Paul Merson has revealed his struggles coping without football during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Sky Sports pundit returned to his ongoing efforts to maintain a positive level of mental health during the lockdown, having previously spoken candidly about his battle with depression, a gambling addiction and issues with drugs and alcohol that left him feeling suicidal.
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Speaking on The Football Show on Tuesday, Merson admitted he has endured times where he has struggled to stay upbeat.
He said: "Some days have been really hard if I am really honest. With mental health issues, the last thing you want to do is isolate.
"Football is massive, it was a massive part of my life when I left school at 16 years of age. Fortunately I have two little kids aged two and five who keep me busy but I miss the football on Saturdays and The Debate on Mondays.
"When I'm not feeling good, football gives me something to look forward to, I see the lads and sit down and talk about something that I love and that isn't there at the moment."
Griffiths: Most important thing is to speak up
Merson is not alone in finding it a challenge to fill the void left by the absence of games.
Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths has urged anyone struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus lockdown to speak up and get help.
Griffiths spoke openly about his own struggles after missing the second half of last season while dealing with personal issues.
The 29-year-old offered advice to anyone feeling the mental strain of isolation and anxiety over the virus as he told the Celtic View Podcast: "Just to speak up. That's the most important thing.
"If people keep stuff bottled in a lot - and that was the case with me, I kept things bottled up - it will tip you over the edge. But the more you speak out, there are loads of people who will be willing to listen and give you advice.
"If you can speak out, it might end up helping you, and you can start enjoying life again."
The Scotland forward was back to form after the January break, hitting eight goals in 13 games and providing a further three assists. And he is determined to hit the ground running whenever football resumes.
"It's obviously not an easy time for players, fans, everybody connected with the club but the main thing is we stay safe, we are all healthy and we make sure we are raring to go when we all come back," he said.
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