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Wolves star Wood fighting back after Priory hell
7:20am Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
WOLVES star Paul Wood spent three months in Manchester clinic The Priory after trying to kill himself on New Year’s Eve.
The prop forward was referred to the private hospital, often used by celebrities dealing with mental illness and addiction, by club doctors at Warrington Wolves.
He was in a downward spiral, locked in a battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression, that saw him nearly take his own life.
Intense counselling sessions and group work followed at The Priory during which Wood started to piece his life back together.
The 31-year-old is now speaking out about his desperation as part of RFL campaign State of Mind, in a bid to show others contemplating suicide they can find the support they need.
“When I was doing the course at the Priory, people were inspired by the fact I’m a professional rugby player and felt my story could help others,” he said.
“I was really surprised.
“At first I didn’t want to say anything because I’d had a lot of press attention, but then I thought if I could help other people, I should do it.
“I just want people to know if they are feeling depressed, or worse, they just need to speak to somebody, the closest person you know.
“Don’t feel they don’t care - they will always care.
“I didn’t think there would be people there for me and then I found out there was.
“There are people out there that will help you too, so go out and find them.”
It was the worldwide media focus following Wood’s testicular injury in last October’s Grand Final defeat to Leeds, that proved the tipping point.
He was already seeing a psychiatrist and on medication over the OCD condition he has faced since childhood.
Then the disorder that also prompts depression worsened dramatically, with thoughts of quitting rugby league for good.
“It started before the Grand Final match because I’ve always had a few issues to sort out,” he said.
“The OCD anyway meant before games I’d have to tie my boots, or wash my hands a certain number of times, or have the volume on an even number when I was listening to the radio in the car.
“But after that game, everything just got on top of me and I spiralled into depression, struggling and bottling everything up.
“I rang in sick to training when there was nothing wrong and that just isn’t me - I’m always there giving 100 per cent.
“Instead, I was driving round in my car not knowing what to do.”
A break-up with wife Shelley followed in November, and more news reports over a subsequent ‘fling’ with adult television channel model Holly Henderson, sealed his suffering.
On December 31 last year the father-of-two, collecting belongings in bin bags from the empty family home in Wigan, ‘lost it’.
Placing a bottle of vodka on the side, he searched frantically for pills that would end his turmoil.
“It wasn’t a cry for help or anything like that - I would have done it, killed myself,” said Wood.
“I just wanted it to be all over, it was the only thing in my mind and it was the only way out I could see.”
“I’m just thankful I couldn’t find any pills and got a second chance.
“I got some help and my family and Tony Smith (Wolves coach) were so supportive.
“It was the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Wood is now reunited with wife Shelley, and young children George and Darcey.
He says he is feeling happy again and is looking forward to the future, after signing a two year contract extension with Wolves.
“I was the last person people would expect to feel like that - I was the guy that loved having a laugh,” said Wood.
“People would look at a professional rugby player and say you play sport and get paid for it, your life is rosy, how could you not be happy?
“But it’s not that straightforward - this could happen to anyone and the most important thing is you don’t bottle it up, and get some help.”
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