ALEX Fasolo says he silently fought a mental health battle for years and struggled to hold conversations with friends before bravely seeking help this year.
The Collingwood forward enjoyed one of the finest days of his career kicking the sealer on Sunday less than two months after stepping away from the game to treat his depression.
Harking back to his childhood days in the backyard, Fasolo said of the clutch set shot: “I have taken that shot one million times, I was never going to miss”.
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It was a triumphant moment for a man who said he was unable to look friends in the eye and went to some “dark places” at the low point of his mental health battle six months ago.
“If I’m really honest with myself, it’s probably something I’ve been battling for years and probably the last 12 months it all came to a head,” Fasolo said on Triple M.
“I probably had to put my hand up and say ‘something is not right here’ and now I’m dealing with it.
“It’s something I’m still learning a lot about myself to be honest, and I’m getting better, getting the treatment I need.
“To think about where I was six months ago and the dark places I got myself into I almost feel silly, but it’s just one of those things and it’s becoming more and more common.”
Fasolo missed the Round 10 win over Fremantle to focus on his mental health in a decision that helped pave the way for other mental health sufferers including Dogs’ pair Travis Cloke and Tom Boyd.
The 25-year-old said he was feeling much better and was able to engage with people more freely now that he was seeking treatment.
And the benefits were flowing to the field, with Fasolo slotting 16 goals in his last six matches.
“I’m playing some OK footy at the moment, but more than anything it’s (the) weeks (behind the scenes) that were really killing me,” he said.
“I know I’m a lot more level and engaged with the blokes around me and I was getting to the point where I couldn’t hold conversations.
“I couldn’t look blokes in the eye.
“I just know the weeks are getting a lot easier for me, if that comes out on game day, even better.
“But I’m progressing and getting better.”
Fasolo lauded the Magpies and coach Nathan Buckley for the support the club had shown him after hiding his problems beneath “a front”.
“I reckon it took a lot of blokes by surprise,” he said.
“Maybe two, maybe three years I walk into the club each day and put on this big front and it was becoming too much to suppress,” he said.
“I had a few blokes fooled. I think a few blokes close to me knew something was going on, but I’m bloody lucky to have some really good mates at the club who were really supportive.
“The coaching staff and Bucks has been a champ about it, lucky I have got good people around me.”