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David Humphreys about refereeing and depression

Have you ever had a thought that you do not want to referee? Days that you dont want to pick up your bag and go out to your game? That’s waht happened to David Humphreys. He talks on this blog about refereeing and depression.

Quote on refereeing and depression

You told me you got your own personal experiences with depression. What happened? Describe how did you felt.
I’ve always had issues with low mood since my mid-teens as well as issues with self confidence, which probably makes it bizarre that I should have taken up refereeing.
I was officially diagnosed with suffering depression and anxiety in 2013.

How did the depression effect you as a referee?
Put simply, there are days when I don’t want to referee games. There are days when I find it hard to pick up the bag again and ones when I throw it down never knowing when it was coming back out again. I’m not going to pretend I’m some big shot referee who is on the biggest games in the world but when the blanket of anxiety takes over, even just the smallest comment or incident in the match can knock you for six. I tend to replay things over on my head and any sort of self doubt on even a throw in can tap into my anxiety.

You told me you finally st epped away from the game. After how long did you make that decision? How difficult was it?
It wasn’t my decision to make. My anxiety decided for me. I couldn’t pick the bag up, I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t face putting myself in the firing line.

Now you’re back into the game. What help did you get? And what made you come back?
I missed it too much and I wasn’t going to allow my anxiety to dictate what I did any longer. It took a while and I eased myself in gradually with some smaller youth games on an informal basis then back onto men’s football.

What tips do you have for other referees 1) to prevent getting depressed and 2) what to do when you feel depressed?
I’d love to say there’s a handbook or a guide on how to deal with it but it’s different from person to person. I know my own weaknesses and triggers and what to do to manage it but that could be the entirely opposite approach to someone else.

Thanks for talking so openly about it, David.

As a reader, I hope you never experienced depression. If you have, what helped you?


  • DepressedRef

    Awesome blog. I am setting here after a game I officiated. Thinking of the same things you mentioned.

    I am having that feeling. You know “I should just hand it up”

    I have some thinking to do!!

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