Tim Paine has opened up on his mental health battles and struggle with confidence through the middle part of his career after suffering a setback through injury.
The Australian test cricket captain revealed he struggled to sleep and eat and started to hate playing the game as his mental health deteriorated.
The 35-year-old was tipped to be Australia’s long-term wicket keeper after he debuted in the national side in 2010 before he broke his right index finger in an All Stars Twenty20 game three months later.
His finger was shattered and required seven rounds of surgery, sending Paine on a two-year recovery mission that played in his mind on his return to the pitch.
‘When I started training and playing again I wasn’t too bad, until I started to face guys who bowled a lot quicker,’ Paine said on the Bounce Back podcast.
Tim Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) has revealed the depths of his mental struggle after suffering a finger injury
‘And they’d be running in and instead of thinking about hitting the ball, I was thinking: ‘Geez I hope he doesn’t hit me on the finger’.
‘From there it was just a downward spiral. I lost absolutely all confidence. I didn’t tell anyone about it.’
Paine’s mental scarring from the injury changed his mindset and altered his playing style, with drastic consequences to his personal life.
‘I got to the stage where I was scared of getting hit, and I just had no idea what I was going to do,’ Paine said.
‘Instead of watching the ball I was thinking about getting hit or what might happen. When you’re doing that the game becomes very difficult.
‘I couldn’t score runs for an extended period of time. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was so nervous before games. I was horrible to live with.
Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) began to suffer severe anxiety on his return from a finger injury
‘I love training for cricket, and I love watching cricket. But when it came to my part in the game I just hated it. I would rather be anywhere else in the world because I was convinced I was going to fail.’
Paine said he became ashamed to leave his home and kept his struggles to himself.
‘I was embarrassed at what I had become,’ he said.
‘No one knew I was struggling, not my mates, not my partner. There were times when she was at work and I’d sit on the couch crying. It was weird and it was painful.
‘I didn’t want to socialise with people as I was embarrassed and thought people would think less of me. I was embarrassed to phone my parents. I became a real homebody.
‘I tried to deal with it by laughing it off but it got worse and worse and worse and worse.’
He eventually sought help with a sports psychologist from Cricket Tasmania and had results immediately.
Paine said he struggled to eat and sleep at the height of his anxiety and kept his demons to himself
‘It was the first time I had actually told someone how I was actually feeling and what was going on,’ Paine said.
‘I sat with her for maybe only 20 minutes that first time and I remember walking out of that room and instantly feeling better, that I had let someone in.
‘And, in the end, the first step to dealing with it was admitting that I needed help. It still took six months, but I remember walking out of that room and feeling instantly better.
‘I wish I had sought help earlier.’
Paine said he wants to use his story to encourage other men to open up about their internal struggles and share their emotions.
‘I was taught to just get on with it. But I now try and share with younger players that you need people to talk too and share,’ he said.
‘The stigma of not talking and men being big and brave and tough, we’ve been able to spin it a bit and say, it’s actually braver to speak up; it’s braver to share things.
‘You’re not alone.’
Paine (pictured with wife Bonnie) wants his story to encourage other men to open up about their emotions