AFL star ‘safe’ after distressing post
Darren Jolly, a star footballer who won premierships with Sydney and Collingwood before taking his fame to new heights on reality TV, "has been found and is safe" after posting a worrying message to social media on Monday night.
Jolly, who competed on two seasons of The Block with his ex-wife Deanne and won the 2015 series, sparked a frantic reaction from his followers and the AFL community after a lengthy Instagram post.
"Anyone that knows DJ please give him a call and reach out," tweeted one high-profile former player.
But Paul Connors, who was Jolly's manager through a 13-year AFL career that included stints with the Demons, Swans and Magpies, confirmed later in the evening the 38-year-old was OK.
"Thanks for everyone's concern," Connors tweeted. "Darren Jolly has been found and is safe."
Jolly played in 237 games and was part of the Swans and Magpies teams that respectively saluted in the 2005 and 2010 grand finals.
He gained his full builder's license after he and Deanne earned a whopping $935,000 profit from the property they renovated on The Block in 2015.
But his life was filled with challenges from that point, which he detailed in an emotional acceptance speech after being awarded life membership by the Collingwood Football Club earlier this year.
The former ruckman fought through tears as he opened up about his personal and professional issues and how they resulted in him spending time in hospital.
"Since 2015, I've been thrown some extremely difficult challenges in my life that I'd never thought I'd have to deal with. Challenges that have tested me in every single way," Jolly told a captivated audience.
"Those include being admitted into hospital to remove a brain tumour after I was told by a GP that I just had a sinus infection.
"Spending three weeks in a mental facility to deal with depression. Leaving my 15-year marriage ...
"I can stand here tonight and say everything I was going through broke me.
"After a long slow burn, I had this unrealistic expectation I could fix everything on my own. 'It'll be right, I'll fix it,' I was telling myself. I was constantly telling myself and other people I was fine and acting like everything was OK, when in fact it wasn't.
"One day I finally acknowledged to myself I couldn't get through this mess on my own and needed help. It was the day I almost did something stupid and ended my life. Everything was too much to handle and I lost control. I lost my drive to keep going, I lost my purpose in life.
"I lost my direction and I lost my path. I thought it was easier just to go. I'm not ashamed to stand here tonight and tell you that I spent time in hospital to deal with my issues. I look back now and can say it was the best thing that I could have ever done.
"I learned a lot about mental illness, including depression and the coping mechanisms to get back on track as there is still some challenges to go through. I'm in a much better head space now to deal with them.
"I now enjoy talking about my experiences, because one it helps me with my recovery and two I hope talking to people about my experiences might help them with their issues and difficulties and show them that men who have played AFL or men in general aren't immune to life's struggles.
"I have great people around me to help me now, the three people who are here with me tonight, my mates and my mental professionals. I'm taking each day as it comes and continuing to work towards a happy and more fulfilling life ... I will get through this and be a better man for it."
Originally published as AFL star 'safe' after distressing post