Ronnie O’Sullivan talks about depression
The volatile and ambidextrous snooker genius Ronnie O'Sullivan is hot favourite to win the 2009 world championships which begin this weekend at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. But in an interview with the Guardian, O'Sullivan admitted that his constant battles with depression have not helped his preparation for the tournament. "When I can't play the bread-and-butter shots that make the game simple, I lose my rhythm and think, 'This ain't good," he said. "All season I've been struggling with them feelings. I become nervous inside because I'm not sure what I'm going to produce next."
It was probably "them feelings" that led O'Sullivan to destroy his favourite cue in a fit of rage at his Essex mansion earlier this year. Despite that act of destruction, O'Sullivan went on to win the 2009 masters competition using a new cue that he only acquired the weekend before the January tournament.
But it's not just on the snooker table that Ronnie 'the Rocket' experiences his depressive mood swings. "I lie there some mornings and think what's the point of even getting out of bed?" said the three-times-world champion. "I end up lying there until one in the afternoon. I'll struggle up, have a cup of tea and that's pretty much it. Those are the days you just lose."
However, O’Sullivan said he had stopped using alcohol and Prozac. "Fuck that. I got rid of 'em. I'm not saying they're bad, and they did help me, but I'd rather not rely on some pills to get me through the day." Instead, he has taken up running, which he says helps clear his head and gives him "a reason to get out of bed in the morning".
The 33-year-old has an added incentive going into the world championship. For the first, his father Ronald - imprisoned for murder for the past 17 years - will be able to watch his son play at the Crucible on a television outside the walls of Sudbury prison. Due to be released later this year, he is entitled to short periods away from jail. However, he won’t be allowed to travel to Sheffield until after his release. "Next April it'll be even better," his son told the Guardian. "My dad will be there, at the Crucible, hopefully watching me defend my title in person. Wouldn't that be lovely?"