This week on NITV’s current affairs program Living Black, host Karla Grant sits down with former rugby league star and world champion boxer, Joe Williams, to talk about his success and achievements as a gifted athlete, and his battles with addiction and severe mental illness.
In the lead up to R U OK? Day, Williams shares his harrowing journey with mental illness, as documented in his autobiography, Defying the Enemy Within.
“I’ve been fairly vocal about my alcohol abuse and my drug abuse, with both recreational and prescription drugs,” Williams tells Grant. “It was all an escape from a reality that I just couldn’t confront because this noise going through in my head was so constant. It was a barrage of just, negativity that tried to attack my brain every single day.
“Now, at the time, I had three kids. I was convinced that my kids didn’t love me. I was convinced that the mothers of my kids didn’t care about me. That I was better off dead. I was convinced that my parents didn’t love me, and that my siblings didn’t care about me. I was convinced that my life wasn’t worth living anymore. I was in so much mental pain. I didn’t want to die, but I just wanted the pain to go away. And I felt at the time that the only way that I could make this pain to go away was ending my life.
“…I’ve had some extremely great memories in my life that I’ve been lucky to have, you know, traveling the world helping people and I’ve played in two sport disciplines that I’ve done fairly well at. People say, you must have some good memories Joe. The most vivid memory of my entire life is the day I tried to end it. I relive that every day.”
Living Black uses documentary style storytelling to tell compelling human stories, taking a comprehensive look at some of the most important issues affecting Indigenous Australians.
R U OK? is a suicide prevention charity in Australia, reminding people that having meaningful conversations with mates and loved ones could save lives.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
If you need to talk, Lifeline can be reached on 13 11 14.
Wednesday 12 September at 9.00pm on NITV.