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Player Stories: How I Tackle Mental Health

Chapter V

Finding the right words

When I was 16 years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, which is an aspect of autism.

It feels difficult to speak about my life at around this time because as I look back now, I realise that I was such a different person.

Did you know that those of us with Asperger’s/Autism are at a greater risk of experiencing mental health problems than the general public? Most of this is down to lack of resources and support, but I can clearly see the link from my own diagnosis and my mental health.

A common occurrence with people who are on the spectrum is that they tend to have obsessions that they hold on to so dearly. This usually appears in random and rather precise ways such as a favourite part of a song or a movie.

It could just be that I liked the sound of a specific part of a song or that there was a scene in a movie with vibrant colours. It’s difficult to stop thinking about a specific thing when it becomes an obsession.

There are also other broader things such as frustration, fidgeting, and finding it extremely difficult to describe how you’re feeling. This usually leads to bottling up emotions. It’s usually the case that people who are on the spectrum aren’t very good at facial expressions or body language. Even finding the right tone of voice to use in a particular social circumstance is still difficult for me.

My passion for studying languages has helped me tremendously along my journey. It’s aided me with being able to find the right words to express myself accurately. I get to find songs and movies that I like in either German or French. As I “comfort” watch or listen to content in those languages I get to learn new words. I’ve found a way to turn it into a win-win scenario.

Since I started Rugby, I’ve seen my stress levels decrease exponentially. It’s helped me in ways I never imagined before. And at the same time, at Taexali, I get to figure out who I really am.

We hope that by sharing these stories show that, no matter how you might seem on the outside, even as rugby players, looks can be deceiving and anyone, absolutely anyone can be affected by mental health.

Together, we want to tackle the stigma around mental health.

For more information about mental health, or support, check out our charity partner: