BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
DANNY SWANSON will never become complacent about his mental health after battling the spectre of depression.
However, the St Johnstone favourite is adamant he has never been happier as he thrives professionally and personally.
The 29-year-old fought depression in 2011 while on the books of Dundee United as he struggled to overcome injury problems, with the Tannadice club checking the player into The Priory in London for a period.
He bravely chose to speak publicly about his battle for wellness, previously revealing that one unnamed League One club in England passed on the opportunity to sign him after discovering he had been treated for the disorder.
However, he has emerged stronger from the anguish and, with his two sons, Roman and Oakley, at home, he is succeeding in switching off from the pressures of professional football.
“It [depression] is always something you are aware of,” said Swanson candidly. “I’m not going to say I’m over it as there are still days when I get down.
“But everything is going well and I am keeping busy and not getting caught up in too many thoughts. I have just had another son so it is all go at the moment and all good. I’m in a good place and as happy as I have been.
“I do have a lot of friends in football and I do watch them on TV, but when I finish training I like to forget about it really. I like to get home and do stuff with my two sons, Roman and Oakley.
“I like to forget about it until the next day. I do love football but sometimes I don’t think people realise how much pressure you are under – it is a stressful job even though it is the best job in the world.
“People handle stress differently and I found it a bit harder, especially when I was injured at United. I kept getting injuries and couldn’t get over them. That’s when my mood started to drop.
“I like to relax, train, play and forget about it. I have learned to deal with things like that and I have feel much better.”
Given his fight to become a professional – working as a plumber before signing terms with Dundee United – and his battles off the field, it is understandable that Swanson possesses a healthy sense of perspective.
While Bill Shankly is famed for saying “some people think football is a matter of life and death . . . I can assure them it is much more serious than that”, Swanson knows there are plenty of things more important than the beautiful game and is already planning for life beyond the pitch.
He revealed that he is planning to embark on a new adventure in Australia when he hangs up his boots and, to that end, took part in a tiling course organised by PFA Scotland this week, part of an ongoing campaign to ensure players are prepared for a career after football.
“I have it in my head to head over to Australia at some stage,” he continued. “Not yet, as I want to stay in Scotland for a few more years yet.
“My wife has family in Sydney. We went across in the summer and it is something that appeals to me. I think I quite fancy a change in a few years time.
“It is also easier to get into the country if you have a trade or a skill. This [course] could be one way of getting in. This opportunity came up from the PFA and I thought ‘why not?’.”
“I worked as a plumber when I was at Berwick for a few years before I went full-time, too. So that is something else I have to fall back on.”
However, thoughts of retirement are not uppermost in Swanson’s mind as he enjoys a fine start to the campaign with St Johnstone, scoring six goals in his opening seven games of the season.
“This is the fittest I have ever felt and I do believe my best years are still ahead of me,” he added. “I’m looking after myself much better than I have ever done and I hope my peaks years are in front of me.”