My Dark Days

Date: October 2, 2011 / Posted by control

By Colleen Egan, The West Australian, 1 October 2011 –

Sports broadcasting star Glenn Mitchell has told how he sank into a deep depression and prepared to take his own life following his shock resignation from the ABC.

Mr. Mitchell made national headlines in May when he walked out on his 21-year radio and television career and flew to South Africa for a prearranged trip.Speaking this week at the Floreat home he shares with wife Karen Tighe, a fellow ABC presenter, and their five-year-old son James, Mr Mitchell described how he had struggled with depression on air and off and had been on medication since first seeking help in 2006.

A recent change in diagnosis and medication has relieved his symptoms and he is now helping Lifeline with a campaign to reduce suicide rates among men. Mr Mitchell, 48, said that when he quit the ABC after broadcasting 950 football matches and four Olympic Games he was in a state of total confusion and was “spiralling into an abyss”. He had returned from a gruelling trip to the World Cup cricket tournament in India in April to back-to-back football commitments and missed appointments with his psychiatrist. “I couldn’t sleep, I was feeling more and more run-down and my mind was moving at 1000 miles an hour,” he said.”I just couldn’t cope with it.

The ABC, to its credit, tried to talk me out of it but I said ‘no, to hell with it, I just can’t do this anymore’. “It wasn’t long after I got to South Africa that I started thinking ‘what the hell have I done? I’ve thrown my job away’. “After he returned to Perth and was unable to get his job back, Mr Mitchell plummeted further into crisis. “I decided that I’d had enough of life totally,” he said.

“I thought that Karen would be better off without me, James would be better off without me and probably the world’s better off.”I drove up into the Hills and down a track.”I had already written notes to James for when he was old enough to understand and I’d written one for Karen.” Mr Mitchell said his life was saved by a ranger who saw a length of hose in his vehicle boot and sat talking to him. “If it hadn’t been for a forest ranger then I wouldn’t be sitting here talking today,” he said.”

He asked my name and I said ‘Glenn Mitchell’ and he said ‘you’re the bloke at the ABC’ and I said ‘well, I was the bloke at the ABC, I’m not anymore’.”We talked for a while more and I just got back in the car and came home.” His wife noticed the hose that afternoon and, despite his excuse that he was “taking it down to Bunnings”, she feared for his life and found his psychiatrist’s name in the telephone book soon after. Ms Tighe said the crisis was the most terrifying time of her life.