Australia's Sharni Layton playing against New Zealand before her break.
Australia's Sharni Layton playing against New Zealand before her break.

Sharni Layton opens up on ‘mental health injury’

AUSTRALIAN netballer Sharni Layton says she has felt "really alone at times'', breaking down in tears as she talks about a "mental health injury" which has sidelined her from recent Diamonds duties and the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

One of netball's highest-profile players, Layton has opened up about her problems after taking an extended break from the game, revealing she was "in a really bad spot mentally'.

A netball fan favourite and rated as one of the world's leading defenders, Layton said she did not know how bad she was before taking her time out from the game.

"It's just amazing because you do, like, feel really alone at times,'' Layton said sport social platform 20 FOUR.

Sharni Layton in full throttle for the Magpies during Super Netball.
Sharni Layton in full throttle for the Magpies during Super Netball.

"It is really hard because the reason I took time off, I guess, was to try and get back for Commonwealth Games.

"I was in a really bad spot mentally. And like any other injury, if you do your ankle, strain your hamstring, you can't play at your best.

"You need to take time off to get that right. So I took time off to get my head right. I (sought) help. It was really great.

"I didn't realise how bad that I was to be honest with you.

"After taking a bit of time off, I realised that I wasn't OK and that it was going to take a bit longer to get back than I would have hoped."

Sharni Layton is rated as one of the best netballers in international netball.
Sharni Layton is rated as one of the best netballers in international netball.

Layton, preparing for the upcoming Super Netball season with the Magpies, also explained why she has not spoken about her issues publicly.

"You think there's something wrong with you and you think it's just you. That's why I haven't spoken up about it earlier,'' she said.

"I still don't really understand it. It's such a hard thing to explain.

"I was like a bull at a gate, I was probably trying too much, I probably had too much on my plate, trying to push my sport, trying to play my best netball, trying to do everything. You just can't.

"My mind is constantly, you know, on edge, just going, that's a bit of my personality as well.

"It was about learning who I am.

Madi Robinson, left, with team mate Sharni Layton and young fan Jazmine Easton at Christmas.
Madi Robinson, left, with team mate Sharni Layton and young fan Jazmine Easton at Christmas.

"The amount of injuries I've had have put me out for a good two years of rehabilitation.

"I would rather have them all at same time than a mental health injury, because you have a plan, you know what you are doing, there is so much more research around it, whereas as when you don't know what's going on in your head it's pretty scary.''

Layton said she is grateful for the ongoing support of the netball community, family and friends.

"It is just amazing because you are really alone at times. To have everyone around me, no one even knew what was wrong. I didn't talk to anyone about it,'' she said.

"I have the whole netball community, the girls were phenomenal, all reaching out to give a massive hug. I love hugs, so getting big hugs is awesome.

"Even people who didn't know me, the messages I was getting, like 'stay strong, do this, do that', you don't even know what's wrong but you are giving me all this love.

"To have them be like, 'we've got you, keep going', it just gives you that love and hope and that feeling. I am so grateful, so grateful for it.''

If you are experiencing depression or are suicidal, or know someone who is, help is available. Lifeline: 13 11 44. Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636



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