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Rugby star Ombachi opens up on mental challenges

Kenyan rugby player Dennis Ombachi has lifted the lid on his battle with mental health, revealing he suffers from Bipolar disorder.

He opened up on this condition on his Twitter page and also disclosed he’s battled depression.

These conditions, he adds, have affected both his life and that of his family.

“I am Dennis Ombachi, kind of an international rugby player and a guy who’s passionate about cooking, what many people don’t know is that I am medically diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For many years I have struggled with this & depression. I would usually disappear from social media & occasionally miss flights when I had made the team. This behaviour was always blamed on me “just being Dennis”. What my coaches and teammates didn’t know was how much pain I was in,” he began by saying.

The 30-year-old nicknamed the Ghost Worker cum the Roaming Chef because of his extreme love for cooking, described bipolar as a sudden yet extreme shift of moods that comes without warning.

He, however, has assured his fans that he is managing the condition by taking medication.

“For those who don’t know, Bipolar disorder means my moods can swing from elation to depression without warning; however, as long as I take my medication, I’m usually good. This has taken a toll on my family life over the years and I am thankful for the support I have received. When I say family, include the friends who have stuck by me and walked with me through the darkness all these years,” he added.

According to the Ombachi who has turned out for the Kenya Sevens team at international events, many athletes and ordinary people struggle with mental health.

To curb that, he suggests having more talks around the topic to help them realize what they are going through is completely fine and will soon be okay.

“Mental Health is affecting so many people, but no one will come forward and talk about it because it’s considered taboo in our culture. For me, let me be the one. Many athletes and many ordinary people are facing this daily and they need help and understanding. If we talk about this more, then more people will no longer suffer in silence, the way I have all these years. I don’t need pity, I just want us to be more open to seeking professional help when we need it,” he wrote.

According to the data from Athletes for Hope, an association that aims to educate, encourage, and assist athletes, up to 35 per cent of elite athletes suffer from a mental health crisis that may manifest as stress, eating disorders, burnout, or depression and anxiety.

Responding to Ombachi, Kenya 15s head coach Paul Odera said there’s a need for tacticians to establish a positive relationship with their squads in order to give the players more confidence in sharing mental health problems they may be experiencing.

“Ombachi, your tweets on mental health have given me the courage and inspiration to do better as a national coach. You have shown that mental health in rugby needs coaches to know players as human beings first. Thank you for your bravery and leadership,” he responded.

The father of one recently landed an ambassadorial role with Bidco Africa Limited through their new Golden Fry cooking oil, thanks to his carpentry, fitness, culinary, and butchery skills that have helped him attract a huge following on social media.