Ex Wigan Warriors and Salford Red Devils centre Dan Sarginson says the death of his brother has been a driving force in his desire to help others
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Sarginson is now determined to help people who may be struggling with mental health, by using the experiences he has been through.
The two-time Super League winner lost his brother Adam weeks before the 2018 Grand Final, and explains: “I was wallowing in self pity for a while with extreme sadness, and it was such a deep and touching thing, but on the flip side of it, it does awaken other parts of you that were asleep and dormant.
“I was numb to my mental health but when I lost my little brother, I started to dive deep into, why did he feel so down and sad?
“Through exploring that and having nowhere else to turn to find any reasoning in my mind, I started to realise massive similarities between how I felt and he felt.
“I kind of felt like I owed it to myself to overcome this and change my reality and the way I live life, working through the issues that I would blame other people for really.
“Losing him is such a driving factor for me.
“I look up to all his qualities. Everyday I try to get closer to what he was and what he gave to the world.
“It’s extremely sad but there’s a lot of beauty in it as well deep beneath the surface.
“I’d love to share my experience with people, so that might be getting in front of a crowd and offering my story.
“I know when I would be struggling and people would speak to me openly and honestly, I found it very inspiring and it helped me a lot. I want to look down that route.
“I want to help young athletes and young children just believe in themselves and move away from this fear and doubt.
“It all leans towards trying to help people, especially men’s mental health.
“There’s certainly a passion with two other brothers where we’ve struggled quite a bit.
“I do know how hard it is as a man to talk about your feelings.
“There’s a lot of obstacles in the way when trying to fix problems.
“If I’m able to help in any of those ways then I’m open to it.
“It’s just about exploring options at the moment, but that’s where I feel most passionate.
“I don’t think I can save the world, but if I can help one person out of 100 then that could’ve been me amongst 99 other people.
“Wherever it takes me, I’m sure it’ll be everything I want it to be.”
Sarginson believes more can be done in rugby league and beyond to allow people to be more open about their mental health.
“It probably moves alongside society where it’s very focused on fixing the problem once it’s arrived rather than helping it at its root,” he stated.
“There are things that seem very obvious to me now, but growing up I had no idea.“It’s kind of the awareness of your emotions and that it’s okay to feel them.
“They are just indicators of how you are feeling.
“As a society we are just numb to our emotions, and we’ve never really been taught how to feel them.
“Sometimes it can sound as simple as that but it’s certainly something that has helped me a lot.
“It’s helped me come to this decision now.
“In my mind people can look at me playing for Salford thinking ‘you’re a professional rugby player and you have a good lifestyle,’ but it’s not what I’m feeling inside.
“I could’ve carried on playing for five or six more years but still wouldn’t have felt like I wanted to.
“My body would’ve said no, but my mind would’ve told me to keep playing because it’s aligned with society.
“The rugby league norm is to play into your 30s and make as much money as possible.
“Even my relationship with money has completely changed, it’s very important and you need a certain amount, but I’m comfortable and able to follow where my passion is taking me in the end.”
Sarginson says he is settling into life away from rugby league, but admits he is keeping an eye on some of his former teammates.
“The first few weeks have just been about trying to chill, while doing some gym and yoga at my own pace,” he said.
“I’ve just been resting my body really because it’s taken a battering over the years.
“It’s good to just kick back and not have much to do while I work out what direction I want to move in now.
“I’ll keep an eye on Salford this year, because I did the pre-season with them and know how hard they’ve worked.
“Of course I’ll be cheering for them, on the edge of my seat, questioning my decision while they’re playing, but then seeing someone drop down injured and being ‘okay that would’ve been me.’
“I’ll definitely remain a fan of the sport.
“Once players move on and I don’t know too many of them, I’ll probably just watch the big games and some of the international stuff.
“I don’t think I’ll be booking off weekends to watch back-to-back games, but I will definitely keep an eye on it.”