Western Storm star Fi Morris says a referral for counselling from the Professional Cricketers’ Trust “saved her life” after years of struggling with depression.
Morris, who also helped Southern Braves to the final of the women’s Hundred in the summer, said there were times when she was unable to get out of bed or leave the house, such was the extent of her illness.
The 27-year-old sees her mental health as an “ongoing battle” but says being able to open up to a counsellor has been a massive help to her.
“It has saved my life, I can definitely admit that it has saved my life,” she told the PA news agency, in an interview to mark World Mental Health Day.
“The way that I feel about myself now and the way that I view myself is totally different to how it used to be and it’s definitely saved, and changed, my life.
“There was such a long time when I was just in denial about how I felt, ‘I’m not depressed, I don’t have depression’. As soon as I admitted it was something that I struggled with, it all became a bit easier.”
Morris traced the start of her difficulties back to a serious assault she suffered while a student at university.
“I was later diagnosed with PTSD following the assault, and that manifested in a lot of depression and anxiety,” she said.
“It was a bit of a struggle for me. I had lots of friends there but I had lots of low moments too. I wasn’t the biggest talker and never wanted to talk about the struggles I had.”
Morris’ mental health issues persisted into her cricketing career.
“I quit cricket for a couple of years and when I started again I struggled with changing people’s perceptions of me,” she said.
“People in and around cricket had always seen me as someone who didn’t take it seriously and made a lot of mistakes, that I just wanted to have fun instead of knuckling down.
“I struggled with people not seeing me in a serious light any more.”
The lowest point for Morris came in 2016 at the end of the first Women’s Super League season, when she played for Southern Vipers.
“I’d been away travelling for about seven or eight months just before we started. I was pretty unfit when I got back and played in the Super League and didn’t really enjoy it,” she said.
“We won the first year of it, and went from this massive high of playing on TV, having a lot of attention, playing cricket and getting paid to do it and living with friends.
“I then went and lived back at home. I was unemployed, I was living with my mum in the middle of nowhere and that was probably the lowest I’ve been.
“I was probably sleeping 12 to 13 hours a day but then getting up and just feeling absolutely shattered. All I could do was go and lie on the sofa and watch telly. I definitely couldn’t work.”
Morris initially turned to the NHS and started taking antidepressants, and said she “chickened out last minute” from other conversations where she was close to opening up.
The turning point finally came late last year, after a conversation with Storm personal development manager Martin Cropper.
“I opened up to him and he said ‘right, we’re going to get you some help’,” she said.
“It was a really quick process and he put me in touch with someone the next week. It’s perfect for me, it gave me enough time to trust her and open up as much as I could have done.”
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust is a charity which provides a wide range of support to members of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, the players’ union.
Since 2015, 460 PCA members have received mental health support from the Trust, including Morris.
She now hopes to help others find the right support, and believes World Mental Health Day serves an important purpose.
“I always just thought I was the only person in the world that was feeling this way,” she said.
“The more you hear about other people that have had their struggles as well just makes you feel a bit better that you’re not alone, you’re not crazy, you’re just having a bit of a tough time.”