How concussions drove the rising footballer to the brink of suicide – and the new sport that aided his recovery
- Brendan Verrier was once a promising AFL player
- Concussion symptoms ignored could have been fatal
- Battled suicidal thoughts, ultra-marathons are new focus
- If you need support, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
Brendan Verrier was on track to achieve his dream of becoming an AFL star when his world came crashing down in 2017.
A nasty tackle late in a game while playing for the South Fremantle Bulldogs in Western Australia changed everything.
But rather than admit he had a serious concussion, Verrier – a talented midfielder – continued to chase a Sherrin for the next few weeks as footy was ‘his identity’.
And before Verrier realized it, the damage was done.
Verrier had Second Impact Syndrome, which occurs when another head injury is sustained before the first concussion has healed.
Brendan Verrier was on track to achieve his dream of becoming an AFL star when his world came crashing down in 2017
Verrier finally found salvation in ultra-marathon running and now graces picturesque trails in Alice Springs (pictured)
Increasing brain swelling followed – and with continued dizziness, lightheadedness and unsteadiness, a diagnosis of vestibular disorder was finally made.
Dark thoughts – including suicide – entered Verrier’s headspace and he knew he needed a new passion for life.
A move to Alice Springs last January after accepting a job at Yirara College, an Aboriginal boarding school, was the fresh start Verrier needed in life.
It was also a location with numerous running routes – namely in the West MacDonnell Ranges.
It has proved to be Verrier’s salvation.
“I remember the first time I went out on the trails, I just felt this beauty in these mystical, magical areas that we have in the desert,” he told the ABC.
“It grabbed me right away and it felt like I was really myself when I ran these trails.
Brendan Verrier ignored concussion symptoms from playing AFL, quickly setting him down a dark path
Verrier contemplated suicide before happily finding his new life passion: trail running
“It felt like me, it felt like I was Brendan again, after four years of not being myself while dealing with my brain injury and my mental health issues.”
Verrier has proven to be anything but a novice in what is a brutal sport, both physically and mentally.
In May, he won the West Macs Monster 40-mile ultra-marathon, breaking the course record by 25 minutes.
“I still want to test my mind and body and see where this takes me,” he said.
“The longer you’re there, the harder it gets, but I’ve been through some hard things before in my life.”
Call for confidential crisis support:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
More than blue: 1300 224 636