19th Sep, 2020

Kitto gives hope to others after beating battle with depression

Rob George 21st May, 2020

WARRIORS scrum-half Jono Kitto has opened up on his battle with depression and the ‘humbling’ experience of sharing his struggle in a bid to help others.

Speaking on a special Worcester Warriors podcast to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Kitto was joined by team-mate and podcast host Marco Mama and former Wasps lock foward Kearnan Myall to talk about mental health in sport.

Myall retired in 2018 and is now studying for PhD in psychiatry at Oxford University, where one of his chief aims will be highlighting and tackling the issues which affected him and other players.

For Kitto his own fight ‘began to get serious’ in 2011 at the age of 19 and told Mama and Myall of the daily challenge which faced him from the moment he woke up.

“I was getting really sad and not knowing how to describe why I was feeling like that, I got to a point where I would wake up in the morning and be gutted that I had woken up. I had no idea how I would get through the day,” he said.

The 28-year-old said, while he had ‘strong thoughts’ about suicide, he had never attempted to take his own life.

Nevertheless the scrum-half said he endured a period where he hoped for a naturally occurring accident such as being hit by a bus would take place to end his life.

“Those thoughts genuinely went through my head because I was so over living in a way that seemed so impossible to get through a day without sadness and a whole lot of effort,” he admitted.

“I felt I couldn’t take my own life because I felt I couldn’t do it to my family and because of my faith I believe my life is not my own to take into my own hands so they were the two things which stopped me. They were also the first two things to play their part in my journey out of it.”

When asked to reflect on the causes of his depression, Kitto said he put it down to some experiences as a child and unresolved trauma he admitted he hadn’t dealt with properly.

“I was anxious all the time, I hated myself in a really strong and bad way. It got to the point where my brain said ‘I can’t cope anymore’ and I went into depression for nine, ten, 11 months,” he said.

Kitto shared the tale of being made captain for a team back in New Zealand at the age of 19 and his elation which came to a shuddering halt when he got into his car after the game and ‘bawled my eyes out for 30 minutes’.

After confiding in his parents, Kitto began his journey out of depression and said help from family and friends, from counselling and latterly through sharing his experiences with the Rugby Players Association (RPA) had all stood out.

“I feel like I am the best place I have been for a long time, certainly so in the last six months. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had, I wouldn’t take it back because of its allowed me to have conversations like this and to see the impact it might have had on other people’s lives.

“Sharing what has happened to us and things which helped can hopefully help someone else not to give up when they are at their worse is hugely humbling,” he added.

Search for Worcester Warriors podcast on Spotify or iTunes or visit www.warriors.co.uk/2020/05/18/worcester-warriors-podcast-episode-three for more.

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