Everton playmaker Bernard has spoken about the anxiety attack that prompted him to undergo psychological treatment in a bid to encourage others to seek help with mental health problems.
Bernard, 27, who arrived at Goodison Park from Shakhtar Donetsk almost two years ago, insists he feels better after going into therapy.
He admitted how he was embarrassed to ask for help to overcome his issues – but that the harrowing experience has made him become a better person.
“I’ve been having therapy for the past year, I see a psychologist,” said Bernard, a champion of Everton ’s People’s Place, a proposed mental health facility close to Goodison Park, which was granted planning permission in May.
“It’s not something I previously stigmatised, but I never thought I would require this type of treatment.
“But now I see how much I’ve evolved as a person, as a human being, how much this has helped me in my work.
“I’ve never publicly spoken to anyone about this. I think it would be good for this to be seen as a way of helping people to go to see a psychologist or psychiatrist.
“I had an anxiety attack a year ago, the psychologist really helped with this, the other professionals involved helped me a lot as well.
“I sought help as I genuinely needed it, but if I’d have only known how much this professional was going to help me, not just in relation to anxiety, with the attack that I had, but in all areas of my life (I would have asked for help sooner).
“I’m stronger in all areas and have become a better person, more positive and more confident.”
Bernard’s nickname in South America is Joyful Legs – but that was in contrast to the inner demons he was fighting.
He has warned that everyone is susceptible to mental health problems.
Bernard told EvertonTV: “We’re all vulnerable to any type of situation, as we’re human like everyone else.
“In a lot of cases I see that people are resistant and don’t seek help. They don’t take medication that could help with the process.
“I was taken by surprise but I’ve always been a person who bottled everything up and kept everything that happens in my life to myself.
“The person I’ve opened up to about everything has been my psychologist and, a lot of the time, I feel embarrassed to talk about certain things.
“I heard a good description from the psychologist once, he takes the boxes and puts them in the right place, and his assistance to put the boxes in the right place helps us to rebuild who we really are.”
Bernard added: “There were different symptoms. I had blurred vision, I’m a bit uncomfortable talking about it as it was a difficult situation, but I’m happy I’ve got through it.
“I think it’s only people who have been through such an attack who really understand the intensity, the way it manifests itself and how difficult it is.
“Also, how scary it is, as it’s so unexpected, you know?
“Today I feel grateful and happier for having gone through this. I’m even grateful for the difficulties and problems we face in life, as they make us better people.
“It’s not possible to identify exactly what happened and why.
“But today, after one year of treatment, I can really see how much I’ve matured, how much of a better person I am.”
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