Not seeing dad before he died because I was playing IPL made me hate cricket: Ben Stokes

England Test team skipper Ben Stokes has opened up about his mental health and panic attacks. The all-rounder revealed he was still on anxiety medication after returning from a six-month break to focus on his wellbeing.

Stokes took a rest from the game last year to focus on his mental health as he was suffering from a series of panic attacks following the loss of his father to brain cancer almost two years ago.

He announced in July he would retire from one-day cricket citing the “unsustainable” rigour of playing all three formats of the game.

Ben Stokes Ben Stokes was ruled out of IPL 2021 (Rajasthan Royals Twitter)

On his break from IPL

Stokes said he felt deep resentment towards cricket when he took the break because he had been unable to visit his dying father as much as he wanted.

“The last time I saw Dad was leaving New Zealand to go to the Indian Premier League – that was dictated by cricket. He wanted me to go, he really loved me playing for Rajasthan Royals and the people there. But it made me hate cricket, I thought it was the reason I didn’t see my dad before he died. I should have opened up about it sooner – I just thought ‘cricket, cricket, cricket’. It’s not a regret … but I’d do things differently,” Stokes said.

“So I had a real thing with cricket at the time I took a break. I was really angry at the sport because it was dictating when I could see my dad,” he told the Telegraph in an interview.

On anxiety medication

“I never thought I would be on medication to help me for that kind of stuff. I am not embarrassed or ashamed to say it because I needed the help at the time,” Stokes said in an Amazon documentary, which will be released on Friday.

“But it’s not done just because I’m back playing. I still speak to the doc, not as regularly, and I’m still taking medication every day. It’s an ongoing process.”

On the importance of opening up about mental health

He stressed the importance of opening up about mental health, adding it was not human nature to pretend to be fine.

“I find sometimes people are a bit nervous to go into the detail about that kind of stuff with me. It’s perceived you can’t feel a certain way – that’s a sign of weakness to show that you are not mentally feeling great,” he said.

“People think they can’t ask people who have struggled. No. It’s fine. I’ll happily tell you as much as I possibly can.”

With Reuters inputs

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