Mitchell Johnson has revealed he’s been struggling with depression since retiring from professional cricket in 2018.
Johnson, who took 313 wickets in 73 Test appearances, including 37 at 13.97 in a legendary display of fast bowling in the 2013-14 Ashes, spoke emotionally about the issue during the filming of Channel 7’s SAS Australia.
“I’ve found it tougher since retiring from cricket,” Johnson said. “All of a sudden, you’re not doing as much. You sort of lose your purpose a little bit.”
Now aged 38, Johnson retired from Test cricket in 2015 but played on for three further seasons in the IPL and Big Bash.
“I struggle with, probably, confidence at times. I’m in that transition now where I’ve been out of playing cricket for about two years,” he said.
And when asked by the presenters if he’d found retirement hard, Johnson responded: “Yeah plenty of times. I found out I’ve got depression … but I think the depression was something I’ve had even from a younger age.
“It [cricket] sort of blocked things out in a way. It sort of hid the depression, but there was a lot of times where you would go back to your room, you’re away from family and you start to dwell on things.
“Through my cricket career, I actually just dealt with it [depression]. It’s just about me now actually moving forward and taking it upon myself to be active with certain things, to keep my mind going.”
Johnson suspected that the lifestyle of an international cricketer had at times exacerbated his condition, particularly on long tours away from home, and said that he had found Australia’s tour of South Africa in 2011 a particular challenge.
That tour came off the back of Australia’s home Ashes defeat in 2010-11, in which Johnson’s erratic form had been regularly mocked by the Barmy Army, and he admitted that it had “got to the point where I wasn’t enjoying being a professional cricketer”, and that he “took everything personally”.
“You have your moments where you struggle with it really bad and it can be tricky when you’ve got a lot of time to think about things,” Johnson said.
“You’ve just got no control whatsoever and your mind starts playing those tricks on you, you start thinking of the worst.”