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Matthew Mitcham speaks about depression and ice addiction

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 23 November, 2012 - 11:31 AM
Matthew Mitcham.

After revealing his battle with depression and crystal methamphetamine addiction in his new book, Olympic gold medal winning diver Matthew Mitcham spoke openly about his battles with Neil Mitchell.

Matthew said his drug use first began at a young age, before progression to an addiction to self-medicate his depression.

Matthew told Neil Mitchell of a self-harming incident which led to his grandmother taking him to hospital to get eight stitches to his arm led to him turning to drugs.

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"I suppose it was the guilt of the pain that I put my grandma through that really shocked me out of that," he said.

"Rather than addressing the problems and learning some healthier coping mechanisms, my coping mechanisms just changed to binge drinking and then pot and LSD."

As a perfectionist, Matthew said he was resolute in ensuring no one became aware of his ‘ice’ abuse – including his partner who was living with him during his drug use.

"I was so ashamed of what I was doing, of the place I had gotten myself to, that I'd made sure nobody had found out," he said.

"I would detox for a week or two before I went away to competitions. I didn't want to be caught and I didn't want to be seen as a drug cheat."

Matthew said despite using drugs during 2010 and the first half of 2011, none of his medals were at risk of being taken away from him.

"Diving itself is not a sport of absolute power, absolute strength, absolute speed or absolute endurance, which is what this drug would've helped with," he said.

"It's a sport of precision and consistency.

"I would detox for a week or two before I went away to competitions. I didn't want to be caught and I didn't want to be seen as a drug cheat.

"I wasn't using drugs to enhance my performance, I was using drugs to change my feelings."

Matthew said he believed his battles with depression and addiction were genetic, with his mother having also faced the same problems with alcohol.

"She had never learnt effective coping mechanisms to deal with her problems," he said.

The lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games prompted Matthew to give up his drug use nearly a year before he donned the green and gold to compete for Australia.

"I had such a powerful goal, and that was the Olympics and that's what kept me sober," he said.

Matthew denied reports he would use crystal meth in his car in the middle of diving training, adamant he did not want his career to be jeopardised.

"Diving was the most important thing to me. I would never interrupt a session to go and do that," he said.

With fellow Olympic athletes Ian Thorpe and Chantelle Newbery also opening up about their battles with depression, Matthew defended the Australian Olympic Committees handling of athletes’ mental challenges.

"The Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Sports Committee can't put in place support systems for a problem that they don't know exists," he said.

"I know for a long time...I thought that having depression was a weakness. I felt like I was unjustified in having depression, I felt like I had no good reason. I was shaming myself for having depression and so I kept it to myself.

"That's why I make a large point of the fact that if we try to de-stigmatise it, take the taboo out of it, then people aren't going to feel as reluctant to share their problems.

"I think it's only just starting to get to the point where the stigma is taken out of depression in sport."

LISTEN: Matthew Mitcham with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • Mitcham is no hero. If he really wanted 'to come clean' he would have done so before a book deal. This guy deserves no respect.

    Nathan Sunday 25 November, 2012 - 10:06 PM
  • Creepy eyes is that his real body?

    mandy Friday 23 November, 2012 - 6:25 PM
  • Suck it up sunshine...Oops

    jgl Melb Friday 23 November, 2012 - 11:44 AM

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