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Observations placeholder

Johns, Andrew Gary - Conversations with Richard Fidler - Andrew Johns shares his mental health battles



Type of Spiritual Experience



Andrew Johns began playing junior rugby league in his home town of Cessnock, New South Wales for the Cessnock Goannas. At an early age it was evident he had plenty of playing ability and Johns joined the Newcastle Knights junior ranks at age 15 in 1989.  Four years later, at 19, the opportunity at first grade presented itself as Johns was tested off the bench during the 1993 season in a handful of games. The following year in the last pre-season trial for the 1994 season, Matthew Rodwell, Newcastle's then-regular halfback sustained a knee injury handing Johns his opportunity. Subsequently, he was named in the starting line-up against the South Sydney Rabbitohs and in his début match made an immediate impact as he amassed 23 points and won the Man of the Match award. He soon formed a winning partnership with his older brother, Matthew Johns, who had played five-eighth at the Knights since 1991.


Matthew Jones does not have bipolar and appears not to suffer from mental problems as such the manic depression is unlikely to have been inherited.

A description of the experience

ABC Conversations with Richard Fidler - Andrew Johns shares his mental health battles Thursday 15 November 2007

He's managed to be one of the greatest rugby league player of all time.  Andrew Johns is a man who loves reading, cooking and is trying to live with a disorder that takes him through powerful mood swings…………

Andrew's dad was a third-generation coal miner. "There's many times when we were growing up [I remember] hearing the phone ring at three or four in the morning and hearing our mother hysterical. There's been falls down the mine and our father got trapped or got hit by a big hunk of coal and he was rushed to hospital. It was dangerous work."

His dad took him down the mine. "Growing up in Cessnock, all we wanted to do was play rugby league for Cessnock and work in the coal mines like everyone else did, like everyone else's father did. He took me down the coal mine, which is three or four kilometres underground. He took me down, he took my brother down on a different occasion. I think in a way to show us what it was all about, to give us some extra motivation to shoot for something else."

The mood swings started around his mid-teens.

"I remember for no reason feeling awfully down and locking myself away in my room. Didn't want to talk to anybody. My parents didn't know what was going on. I suppose depression back then, no-one knew much about it. I didn't want to tell them. Men are supposed to be strong and macho, especially in a rugby league community. When I started doing the book I thought if this can help teenagers, especially young males who can be having troubles to come forward and seek help. Hopefully people can read this story and think, 'If he had it, I can come forward and also seek help'."

He knew he was so much less than perfect. "I knew deep down that I had incredible flaws, that I was troubled. I was doing things that, if people knew, they'd be ashamed of me. And this is what I lived with a lot of my football career, until I came out, spoke the truth, got it all out and from that point on my well-being has gone through the roof."

The source of the experience

Johns, Andrew Gary

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Manic depression