"You have got to speak up" - Chesterfield's new signing Matt Tootle on getting through his gambling addiction and helping others
"Once you come through it and you come out the other side you are proud of getting through it and how strong you are to be able to still be here and be happy.”
That is the message from Chesterfield signing Matt Tootle to anyone who is struggling with their mental health.
The 29-year-old had a serious gambling addition and tried to take his own life when he was 25.
But the former Crewe Alexandra man, who has joined the Spireites on a season loan from Notts County, has now gone 16 months without placing a bet and is now using his experiences to help others.
“The gambling began when I was about 24,” Tootle told the DT.
"I used to like a bet but it got bad after a personal experience in my life and then the anxiety started and it was more of a reaction.
"It got out of control for about three years and once my mind and everything was fine I literally just said one day 'I am not doing this anymore' and that was it.
"I don't miss it, I don't look back on it and I try and help people now who I see who I think might have a problem in and around football which I do see quite a lot.
"It is the same on the mental health side, I do a lot of voluntary work on that as well at the moment.”
At his lowest and darkest moment, not only did Tootle not want to play football, he did not want to live.
He said: "My mental health was very serious.
"I did not want to play football anymore, and I did not want to live either.
"When I was 25 I did try and commit suicide and I am glad that happened because it made me realise where I was and made me realise how much I wanted to live.
"I look back at it now and I am proud of it.
"Once you come through it and you come out the other side you are proud of getting through it and how strong you are to be able to still be here and be happy because when you are bad you never think there is going to be a happy day in your life again.
"You have got to speak up, you have got to talk to someone, anyone, who you trust and not see it as a negative and see it as you are normal. Everyone struggles and has their problems and see it like that rather than bottle it up.”
The full-back says there is a problem in football with mental health, and that he was “overlooked” by clubs because of it.
"There is a problem in football with mental health and how people judge you.
"I think I have probably been overlooked quite a few times because they think there might be a problem with my mental side but that is how the game is and that is why I appreciate Shez bringing me in because he knows me and he did not even ask me about any side of that and that is how it should be really.”
One point Tottle wishes to clear up is speculation that he was not playing at County because he had relapsed, which is not true.
"This has been a problem with me, it has been annoying me in the sense that a lot of people, while I have not been playing, think that I have been struggling again but I have been 16 months clean with gambling,” he added. My mental health has been as good as ever for over three years now and I am absolutely fine. I am in a really good place mentally.
“I have had normal problems lately in a sense that I am not happy that I am not playing and I am not happy that I have not been involved and the main thing for me is playing football now, that will keep me going and keep me happy and that is all I want to do at the minute.”