8 October 2014
By Mark Rayner
Williams reveals struggles in hope to help others.
JOEWilliams has revealed that an ongoing battle he had with depression came to a head during his time with Dubbo CYMS and he attempted suicide before admitting himself to a mental health ward. The talented rugby league star turned boxer has chosen to speak out about his battles in the hope others will learn from him and it was during his time in Dubbo that he was worst affected, despite the success his team was experiencing on the field.
“When I was coaching Dubbo CYMS and making the grand final, I was really struggling. We had made the semi-finals and I approached the club to get a week off and I had to be admitted to a mental health ward,” he said.
“People like Kevin Walkom and Luke Jenkins were great to me and Neil Milgate was another one I confided in. They were as dumbfounded as anyone that I was suffering but it shows it can happen to anyone in any walk of life.
“During that year I had an unsuccessful suicide attempt and I wrote letters to my children and sent text messages to the mothers of my children.
“I did everything in my power to end it because I couldn’t see any other option.”
Williams said he now recognised he had been suffering from depression for a long time but early on, he didn’t recognise it and thought his situation was normal.
“For as long as I can remember it has been there. From when I was a kid and when I was playing in the NRL,” he said.
“I found I was really struggling with expectation and it wasn’t expectation from others, it was the expectation I was placing on myself.
“It’s something I know now that it’s not going to get away and I look at it that I’m not trying to beat it, I’m just trying to manage it.
“There are some days that are worse than others, days I don’t want to get out of bed but I am learning how to manage that.”
Williams credits most of his turnaround to his partner Courtney Merritt and his children.
“My fiance Courtney is the reason I am still here. She’s an inspiration to me. She overcame leukaemia and cancer and lost her mother when she was a child and that has shown me that I can overcome my battles too,” he said.
“I am grateful that I am still here and I want to make the most of my second chance.
“I want my kids to grow up with a dad. I’m glad I can talk to them all the time and they know they can talk to me.”
One of Williams’ best cures for his depression has been sport. He gave up rugby league after CYMS’ grand final loss in 2012 and began to concentrate on boxing, where he has been incredibly successful.
He returned to football this year with the Wagga Brothers but says boxing is his true passion and he will have another fight in Wagga on Saturday, October 18 against Indonesian fighter Rusmin Kie Raha.
“It’s been proven that exercise helps and for me that is true,” he said.
“When I’m training hard and I’ve got a goal, that is when I’m best.
“It’s when I’ve got too much time and start to think that I get down.
“My training has been fantastic. I’ve had a great preparation for this bout. I was carrying a bit more weight because I played footy this
year but I’ve worked hard to shed that and I’m ready to go.”