Celebrity

NRL star Darius Boyd speaks out about his mental health battle

The NRL superstar bravely opens up about his battle with depression in his uncompromising memoir
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Like many elite athletes, Brisbane Broncos player Darius Boyd seemingly had it all.

WATCH: Darius Boyd’s sweet photo of his little girl

A hugely successful career – now spanning 15 years – in the NRL with two premiership medals under his belt, and representing Queensland 28 times in the State of Origin competition.

Boyd, 33, is also happily married to wife Kayla and a very proud dad to his two adorable daughters, Willow, 4, and Romi, 11 months.

But six years ago, Boyd tells WHO, the wheels were falling off.

“I was seeing a therapist for a few years before I checked in to a mental health clinic,” he says.

“I wasn’t getting what I needed out of it because I wasn’t 100 per cent committed. When I hit rock bottom, I realised I had some massive issues I needed to sort out. Only then, was I open to getting the help I needed.”

Darius Boyd
Darius is one of the NRL’s highest profile stars. (Image: Supplied)

Those “massive issues” Boyd refers to include a childhood in which he didn’t know who his father was. He lost two significant adults in his life before his teens.

His mother was hospitalised with depression, and Boyd’s closest friend in rugby league, Alex McKinnon, suffered a devastating spinal injury in 2014.

Known in the sport as a perfectionist, Boyd’s form (then) for the Newcastle Knights dipped during that season when Kayla briefly left him after she learned of an infidelity – that’s when Boyd knew he needed help.

“I brushed problems aside,” he says.

“I focused everything I had into rugby league but I eventually realised I couldn’t go on like that.”

Darius Boyd
Darius with his wife Kayla and the couple’s two daughters. (Image: Supplied)

With his wife’s support, Boyd checked in to a private mental health facility for a three-week stay. Six years on, he says he still regularly visits a psychologist to keep his mental health on track.

Boyd’s current team, the Broncos, are close to the bottom of the league ladder, fixtures have been severely impacted by the pandemic and he’s retiring at the end of this season.

But Boyd says he now has the tools and support to cope.

It’s also why he felt now was the right time to publish his autobiography Battling the Blues (out now).

Darius Boyd Book
Darius has written a new memoir about his mental health battles. (Image: Supplied)

“My life has been a roller-coaster ride. But I think it’s really important for men in the public eye, especially, to speak out and say it’s OK to ask for help,” he says.

In retirement, Boyd says he’s looking forward to giving his body a rest after playing footy for 25 years, spending more time with his family, maybe having “a couple more kids” and continuing to work in rugby league, particularly in the mental health space.

Darius Boyd NRL
Darius celebrating after a try. (Image: Supplied)

“I’m hoping my book can be a useful tool for others who have troubles with mental health,” he says.

“Writing it was very emotional at times but looking back, I’m really proud of my journey and how far I’ve come.”

For help contact Lifeline on 131114 or lifeline.org.au

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