I was quite wary about starting to read Marcus Trescothick's autobiography Coming back to me. It chronicles not only his lifelong love of cricket and his professional achievements, but also his struggles with depression and the impact it has had on his career and family life. It has had wonderful reviews, awarded the William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2008, so it had to have a quality worth reading.
But what worried me about reading it was his admission of and reactions to depression. Yet that was also the prime reason for picking up the book. In my teenage years I watched both my parents suffer from depression, my mother to a level that hospitalised her for several weeks, and at university age another close family member was close to taking their life. Knowing what it is like as an observer, living with the highs and lows, made me wonder if I could really read what this brave man had been through.
Marcus set out in detail the steps leading to his breakdown - the pressures of being on tour for months on end and his evident love of his wife and daughters. He also writes about how afraid he was of going public, a chapter entitled 'The Lie' when he was interviewed and only told part of the story. But when he had a few more months to come to terms with the illness he recognised that the only way to explain his absence from international trips was by admitting to his problems. He did make one more failed attempt to play overseas, but didn't get further than Dixon's at Heathrow. The crippling anxiety attacks and fearful separation from his family were too much. England's best batsman is never to play international cricket again.
Depression is a dreadful illness, coming in many forms. Marcus' strength of character to write about his experiences will undoubtedly help many others to be open and honest about their own situations. Despite my concerns, I was eagerly turning the pages, willing his illness to vanish as much as he had. It is not a book for a non-cricket-lover, but anyone with concerns about mental health should read this for Marcus's openness, honesty and candour. As a Yorkshire lass I have problems with his prowess for Somerset, but huge admiration for him as a man.