Be­lieve me,I’d be a bet­ter boss now...

DE­PRES­SION LESSONS VI­TAL

The Football League Paper - - MARTIN LING -

IT’S two-and-a-half years since I went down with de­pres­sion. A lit­tle less since I came out of the Pri­ory. And, touch wood, I’ve been well ever since. But the first ques­tion ev­ery­one still asks me is ‘Are you OK?’

Some­times I feel like say­ing ‘F***ing hell, that was ages ago!’ I want to walk round with a ban­ner say­ing ‘I had de­pres­sion but I’m do­ing fine now’.

But that’s my own fault be­cause I want to speak out, to nor­malise it and en­cour­age peo­ple to seek help. I want the prob­lem to stay in the public eye.

When I first took leave from Torquay in 2013, there were an aw­ful lot of ru­mours go­ing round.That I had a brain tu­mour, can­cer, that I was an al­co­holic – ev­ery­thing you could pos­si­bly think of.

Hon­est

My plan was to re­turn to the job and be as open and hon­est as pos­si­ble. Ob­vi­ously I never got that chance, so I’ve spent the years since do­ing TV, ra­dio, any­thing to ex­plain the dis­ease.

I’ve been to univer­si­ties and done talks. I’ve spo­ken to the League Man­agers As­so­ci­a­tion. Now the FA have asked me to get in­volved with a video.

On Oc­to­ber 3, I’ll be sleep­ing rough out­side Hornsea YMCA to raise aware­ness – and money – for home­less peo­ple and the prob­lems that led them there.

It’s amaz­ing how many peo­ple have ap­proached me about rel­a­tives of theirs who are suf­fer­ing and said ‘Would you mind hav­ing a cof­fee with them?’

I have an aw­ful lot of those cof­fees. Be­cause if I can speak to some­one who is in trou­ble, I will al­ways try to fit it into my sched­ule. My twit­ter feed is full of peo­ple who are strug­gling and I try to send lit­tle mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment. It isn’t much, but I hope it helps.

It’s al­ways go­ing to be part of my story and I’m not ashamed of it.To come through that hell, it has made me a bet­ter per­son.

Cop­ing

I used to think I was weak for be­ing de­pressed. Now I think I’m strong for cop­ing.

I don’t mind peo­ple talk­ing about some­thing that one in four peo­ple suf­fer from. I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber my con­sul­tant say­ing ‘You’re not the big­gest or best name that’s ever sat in that chair’. At the time, I thought he was just mak­ing me feel bet­ter. Now I know it’s true.

But while I’m happy to help oth­ers, I’d still love to be a man­ager again. I just think I’d be bet­ter. I’m a more rounded, more un­der­stand­ing per­son.

Will I get the chance? I know it’s harder. I know some­one will be tak­ing a punt. And I’m not go­ing to beg for a job. But my CV is strong and with ev­ery­thing I’ve been through, I’m con­vinced I’d make a bet­ter man­ager than I ever was be­fore.

RUSH MOVE: Clay­ton For­tune

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