“I was ashamed of what I had become”: Australian cricket star Tim Paine talks about confronting his inner demons – and how a secret battle for mental health kept him from eating
- Tim Paine has revealed the depths of his mental battle after an injury
- The Australian test cricket captain shattered his finger after being hit in 2010
- The injury changed his outlook and led to depression and severe anxiety
- Paine wants his story to encourage other men to be open about their emotions
Tim Paine has opened up to his mental health battles and struggles with confidence through the middle of his career after an injury setback.
The Australian cricket captain revealed that he was having trouble sleeping and eating and hated playing the game when his mental health deteriorated.
The 35-year-old was tipped as Australia’s long-term wicket-keeper after he made his national side debut in 2010 before breaking his right index finger in an All Stars Twenty20 game three months later.
His finger was shattered and required seven rounds of operation, sending Paine on a two-year recovery mission that was on his mind when he returned to the field.
“When I started training and playing again, I wasn’t too bad until I came across men who were bowling much faster,” Paine said in the Bounce Back podcast.
Tim Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) has revealed the depths of his mental battle after a finger injury
“And they ran in and instead of thinking about hitting the ball, I thought,” Gosh, I hope he doesn’t hit me. “
“From there it was just a downward spiral. I absolutely lost all confidence. I haven’t told anyone about it. ‘
Paine’s mental scars from the injury changed his way of thinking and changed his playing style, with profound consequences for his personal life.
“I got to the point where I was scared, and I just had no idea what I was going to do,” said Paine.
“Instead of looking at the ball, I thought about getting hit or what could happen. If you do that, the game becomes very difficult.
“I couldn’t score runs for a long time. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was so nervous before games. I was terrible to live with.
Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) began to suffer severe anxiety upon his return from a finger injury
“I love training for cricket and I like to watch cricket. But when it came to my role in the game, I just hated it. I’d rather be somewhere else in the world because I was convinced I would fail. ‘
Paine said he was ashamed to leave his house and kept his struggles to himself.
“I was ashamed of what I had become,” he said.
“Nobody knew I was having a hard time, not my friends, not my partner. Sometimes she was at work and I sat on the couch crying. It was weird and painful.
“I didn’t want to interact with people because I was ashamed and thought people would think less of me. I was ashamed to call my parents. I became a real roommate.
“I tried to deal with it by laughing at it, but it got worse and worse and worse and worse.”
He eventually sought help from a sports psychologist from Cricket Tasmania and had immediate results.
Paine said he struggled to eat and sleep at the height of his fear and kept his demons to himself
“It was the first time I told anyone how I actually felt and what was going on,” said Paine.
“I spent maybe twenty minutes with her that first time, and I remember walking out of that room and immediately feeling better that I had let someone in.
“And in the end, the first step to dealing with it was admitting I needed help. It still took six months, but I remember walking out of that room and feeling better straight away.
“I wish I had sought help earlier.”
Paine said he wants to use his story to encourage other men to open up about their internal struggles and share their emotions.
“I’ve learned to just keep going. But I’m now trying to share with younger players that you also need people to talk and share, ”he said.
“The stigma of not talking and men who are big and brave and tough, we’ve been able to turn it around a bit and say it’s actually bolder to speak; it is more courageous to share things.
‘You are not alone.’
Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) wants his story to encourage other men to share their emotions