Darren Jolly has revealed the extent of his mental health battles. Picture: Jim Lee Photo
Darren Jolly has revealed the extent of his mental health battles. Picture: Jim Lee Photo

‘Broke me’: Darren Jolly’s terrifying mental health spiral

Dual-premiership ruckman Darren Jolly has opened up about his mental health battle.

The former Collingwood and Sydney star was given life membership at Collingwood's annual general meeting last night.

In an emotional address, he detailed his troubles, revealing he spent time in a mental health facility and wanted to end his life.

"Everyone is probably wondering what I've been up in this last seven years, certainly (since) when I finished footy back in 2013," he said.

"There's been some highlights, like competing in two series of renovation show The Block, and winning one of them. Gaining my full builder's license and purchasing a house in Kew to start my building business.

"I can honestly stand here and tell you that's pretty much the extent of highlights I've had over these last seven years."

Jolly, a father of two who separated from wife Deanne last year, says his downward spiral started after health challenges in 2015.

"Since 2015, I've been thrown some extremely difficult challenges in my life that I'd never thought I'd have to deal with," he said.

"Challenges that have tested me in every single way. Those include being admitted into hospital to remove a brain tumour after I was told by a GP that I just had a sinus infection.

"Having A Current Affair completely defame my new building business just as I was getting started over a build I did in Kew.

"Having everything I've ever made in footy and after footy invested in a 2½ year legal battle due to clients I built for not paying.

"After spending extreme amounts of money fighting for what's right and winning, I've had to sit and wait the whole year because the same clients appealed their loss.

"Spending three weeks in a mental facility to deal with depression. Leaving my 15-year marriage because I fell out of love and wanted a happier life.

"I can stand here tonight and say everything I was going through broke me. After a long slow burn, I had this unrealistic expectation I could fix everything on my own.

Darren Jolly in action for Collingwood in 2010.
Darren Jolly in action for Collingwood in 2010.

"It'll be right, I'll fix it, I was telling myself. I was constantly telling myself and other people I was fine and acting like everything was OK when in fact, it wasn't."

Jolly, 38, said he finally sought help after almost taking his own life.

"One day I finally acknowledged to myself I couldn't get through this mess on my own and needed help was the day I almost did something stupid and ended my life," he said.

"Everything was too much to handle and I lost control. I lost my drive to keep going, I lost my purpose in life, I lost my direction and I lost my path. I thought it was easier just to go.

"I'm not ashamed to stand here tonight and tell you I spent time in hospital to deal with my issues. I look back now and say it was the best thing I could have ever done.

"I learned a lot about mental illness including depression and the coping mechanisms to get back on track. As there are still some challenges to go through, I'm in a much better headspace now to deal with them.

Darren Jolly with his ex Dee and their daughters Lily and Scarlet. Picture: Josie Hayden
Darren Jolly with his ex Dee and their daughters Lily and Scarlet. Picture: Josie Hayden

"I now enjoy talking about my experiences because one, it helps me with my recovery and two, I hope talking to people about my experiences might help them with their issues and difficulties and show them that men who play AFL or men in general, aren't immune to life's struggles.

"I have great people around me to help me now, the three people who are here, my mates and mental professionals.

"I'm taking each day as it comes and continuing to work towards a happier and more fulfilling life.

"I know one day I'll get to see my girls. I pray that's sooner rather than later, I will get through this and be a better man for it."

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire applauded Jolly's courage to speak out, saying on his Triple M Hot Breakfast show that the room was captivated by his story.

Jolly also won a premiership with Sydney.
Jolly also won a premiership with Sydney.