Brad Hogg’s journey from depression to joy

A failed marriage led Hogg to hit the bottle hard, shortly after he prematurely announced his retirement from the sport in 2008. His mental health deteriorated as well, with a distraught Hogg even contemplating suicide on a few occasions...

Former Australian cricketer and television commentator Brad Hogg at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Earlier this year, during the Big Bash League, 45-year-old chinaman bowler Brad Hogg received praise for holding his own against younger rivals. That he excelled on the cricket field after battling alcoholism, depression and suicidal thoughts is an even greater accomplishment.

A failed marriage led Hogg to hit the bottle hard, shortly after he prematurely announced his retirement from the sport in 2008. His mental health deteriorated as well, with a distraught Hogg even contemplating suicide on a few occasions. Hogg would drive over to Port Beach (Fremantle, Western Australia) and consider taking a swim, never to return to shore.

Those were dark days, Hogg admits. “In 2010-11, things were out of control. I tried to act like I had everything covered, just like a tough Aussie. I didn’t want to show the insecurities behind this persona that I had created,” he says, in a chat with Sportstar here on Tuesday.

Generally, things are not as bad as you think it is. The situation is blown out of proportion in your own little world, your own mind. You have to stop worrying about what you don't have, and focus on what you have. You have to address suicidal tendencies before it takes over

Hogg, who revealed these personal details in his autobiography ‘The Wrong 'Un’, was fortunate to have good people to call on. Among this group is Cheryl Bresland, whom he is married to now.

The Western Australia cricketer explains that the power of the mind is all-conquering. “When you’re going through a rut, you ask yourself the wrong questions. You must strive to ask the right questions.

“Generally, things are not as bad as you think it is. The situation is blown out of proportion in your own little world, your own mind. You have to stop worrying about what you don't have, and focus on what you have. You have to address suicidal tendencies before it takes over,” he says.

Hogg has recently begun to work with charity organisations which deal with mental health issues. The experience has been illuminating.

“Mental health issues are very prevalent these days, given the pressures of modern-day life. You’ll be surprised — there are a lot of people who seem to have everything in the world, but then they're going through some very tough times. Personally, it is rewarding for me to talk openly about my problems. It's also nice that people talk to me about their issues. I hope that I’m able to make a small difference in their lives,” he says.

This is not to say that a rejuvenated Hogg is immune to feeling low every now and then. “You might see me as a happy-go-lucky chap – which I am, 90 per cent of the time. There are times when I am upset, but I have the tools to handle it now. I must admit, however, that I often have to be reminded how to use these tools,” he says.

Hogg is not keen on the macho persona associated with professional sportspersons. “We’re all tough, but when you admit your insecurities, you become even tougher,” he says.

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