Dynamic Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell spoke about his battle with mental health, which forced him out of the game for two months.
Having just scored a 28-ball 62 in the first of three T20Is against Sri Lanka at home, Maxwell took an abrupt break from the game in late 2019. But the factors that led him to the decision had built up over time, the 32-year-old suggested in a chat with cricket.com.au.
"It can certainly wear you down when you're putting on a mask of being an international, domestic, whatever cricketer you are. When you're putting that on every day for people to see in public, it can really weigh you down and you can forget who you are, and forget what sort of person you are."
In the first few weeks of his break, Maxwell tried to keep to himself and a return to the game was the last thing on his mind. But things began to change when he confided in Moises Henriques, who had experienced just what Maxwell was going through.
"Moises was one of my first phone calls after I got the courage to pick the phone up and actually talk to someone," Maxwell said. "He has been amazing in that sort of space and he was able to talk me through what I was going to be feeling over the first few weeks.
"Not everyone goes through the same sort of feelings, but I found he was someone who I was able to confide in and talk to about pretty much everything that was on my mind and what I was going through. And he actually made me smile for the first time in a while, even if it was a joke at our expense, and the way we were feeling."
Maxwell was able to chart his way back in the game through a stint with his club team Fitzroy-Doncaster in Victoria's Premier Cricket competition, and was soon prepared for a return to competitive cricket, with Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.
The dashing all-rounder took on the added responsibility of captaincy for the 2019-20 season, which he feels helped his cause as it provided him with a way to stay engaged without having to obsess over his personal performance. He went on to score 398 runs at a strike-rate of 148.51 in the tournament and led his side to the final.
"I almost felt like [captaincy] was an outside interest, like it was something to distract me away from my own game," he said. "I wasn't just thinking, 'everyone's waiting for me to do something here', or 'everyone's putting pressure on me about what I did during the World Cup or what I did over here, what I did for Victoria'. It just felt like I wasn't overindulging in something that was just my game."
Maxwell has admitted that the battle with mental health is an ongoing one, but his biggest takeaway from the recent experience is to be honest about how he's feeling going forward.
"I'm a lot more open in the way I communicate with people," he confessed. "I don't beat around the bush. I make sure I'm 100 per cent honest with everyone. I want people to know exactly how I'm feeling and that's not being brash, that's not being over the top. It's just being honest, so they can be honest back to me as well."
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