After his exit from the 2021 Masters, the 38-year-old snooker player spoke openly about his battle with depression. The star, who notably enjoyed triple success at the Crucible lost his dad when he was only 16 years old, a tragedy that hit the young snooker player hard, so much so that he didn’t even want to play his beloved sport. Speaking to The Sun about this difficult time in his life, Selby said: “For the first six months after he died, I more or less curled into a ball and didn’t want to play snooker. It was the last thing on my mind.”
Since hitting what Selby referred to as rock bottom, the snooker champion has urged others not to suffer in silence, but instead to ask for help when it is needed.
This was encouraged by the Covid-19 pandemic, where Selby admitted that he struggled to keep his own mind active.
“It is tough,” he said. “When people are going through depression it’s very tough and times like this don’t make it any easier because you’re locked in your house and you have so much time to think about stuff.
“When I was going through it – and even now I’m still on the medication to this day – I went to see the professional people and they were telling me to do things that you enjoy and you try to keep your mind active.
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“But it’s difficult when you go through times like this because the things you do enjoy you cannot go and do.
“The only thing you can do is speak to the professional people. Speak to your family and cry for help and get them to help you as well.”
In the past, Selby has credited his wife Vikki Layton for giving him the strength to pull through the difficult times he has faced.
Speaking out about his difficulties with grief and mental health issues Selby added: “Vikki is a fantastic woman. She has been a big part of my success, make no mistake about that.
“It’s tough, I won’t be the only person to go through this and not the last.
“If you are going through that, you need to speak out, don’t curl yourself up in a ball like I was doing.
“Speak out, speak to the people closest to you, and make them realise what you are going through, so they can give you their full attention.”
Selby isn’t the only snooker champion to have spoken out about the importance of mental health recognition within sport as fellow player Ronnie O’Sullivan, who suffered from a breakdown and depression added to the commentary.
He said: “It’s good that people are talking more about these issues and considering people’s wellbeing.
“Sports people struggling with mental health problems shouldn’t be penalised.”
The NHS explains that depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.
How to tell if you are depressed
Depression, like many mental health conditions affects people in different ways and can cause a multitude of symptoms.
This can range from feeling unhappy and hopeless to losing interest in the things that you used to enjoy.
The NHS goes on to explain that there can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains. Depression, at its mildest can leave you feeling persistently in low spirits, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal.
It’s important to seek help from a GP if you think you may be depressed. Many people wait a long time before seeking help for depression, but it’s best not to delay. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can be on the way to recovery.
Treatment for depression often involves a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine and will be recommended to you on a personal basis.
For confidential support from trained volunteers, you can call Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected], or text SHOUT to 85258.