Rathbone reveals troubled past
31 Jan 2012
Clyde Rathbone says his struggles with anger and depression are linked to the emotional abuse he suffered as a child.
On Tuesday, the former Wallabies winger posted a revealing account. Rathbone admitted that he has battled with depression, and now that he has faced his demons he wants the world to know the truth.
‘I was born in South Africa 30 years ago I’m the oldest of 4 boys, I had a difficult childhood, I was abused emotionally by someone who should have been looking after me. And it had a huge effect on me,’ Rathbone wrote.
‘A number of things can happen when you’ve been emotionally abused. Every negative thing I heard about myself, things that were said repeatedly to me became my truth, I started to believe that negative voice until it became ingrained, it affected me in nearly everything that I did and every decision I made.’
Rathbone went on to say how sport provided him with an outlet for his anger. He captained the Baby Boks to the junior world title in 2002 before receiving a contract offer from the ACT Brumbies. The KwaZulu-Natalian later graduated to the Wallabies Test side, and because of these successes he tried to convince himself that what had transpired in his younger years was of no relevance.
‘The fact is those issues never left me completely, they would express themselves in many ways. I would be angry or irritable or feel tension and stress and not really know why but for the most part I would say I functioned as well as I could and anyone who met me would think I was completely “normal”. And I maintained that fictitious existence for years.’
A string of injuries eventually forced Rathbone to retire at the age of 27, and without that sporting outlet, he slipped deeper into depression.
‘Though my body was broken I agreed to play some minor level club rugby. I injured myself in a match and needed surgery to insert a titanium plate in my face. I was on a lot of painkillers and I would go days when I would hardly get out of bed. I felt despairingly low all day, I had no motivation or optimism, I began having suicidal thoughts.’
It was during this time that the depression started to effect Rathbone’s marriage, and he eventually told his wife about what had happened to him when he was a child. After failing to help Rathbone through this troubled time, his wife left. It was after her departure that Rathbone began to see a psychologist and address his issues.
‘For the last six months I’ve been completely free of any sort of depression, I experience the general ups and downs of life and every now and again you get a curve ball thrown your way but at no point have I ever felt as though I’m becoming depressed or that I’m slipping back into old habits.
‘I think of my mind in the same way I think about a broken bone that heals stronger than it was before. I feel indestructible, I rarely flinch and when I do I make sure [I] forge ahead anyway.
‘I need everyone I know and everyone I don’t to read this,’ Rathbone wrote. ‘I need that for me but mostly I just need to tell my wife that I love her and that I’m sorry, and that anything she chooses to do for her happiness is the right decision. I need her to know that she should never settle for happier than she’s been in 10 years when what she deserves is happier than she ever imagined you could be.’
For Rathbone’s full account, click here