Dott on depression, narcolepsy & battling


Surreal would not cowl it, not even shut. One minute he is eight years outdated taking part in on a six-foot desk and watching Joe Johnson beating Steve Davis within the 1986 world snooker remaining and the following – within the relative blink of an eye fixed – he is coming by way of the curtain himself, the Pocket Dynamo from Larkhall, Graeme Dott.

It is the 2004 remaining and it is Ronnie beside him. By no means O’Sullivan or Ronnie O’Sullivan, simply Ronnie, like Ronaldinho. Similar type of class, actually. “Ronnie has that aura,” says Dott. “Not many have it, however he has.

“Davis had it. Hendry had it. I genuinely suppose John Higgins is the very best ever however he is nonetheless not acquired an aura. No concept why, no concept what it’s.”

Ronnie’s executed Hendry 17-4 within the semi, then beats Dott 18-8 within the remaining, however Dott’s OK. No person beats Ronnie when Ronnie’s taking part in like Ronnie. He got here up the street with quite a lot of positives and a cheque for £125,000.

His life began to twist and switch shortly after. If you wish to hear about bottle in huge time snooker, hearken to Dott. If you wish to perceive sporting psychology, sit with him and soak up his story. If you wish to go to the darkish aspect, he’ll take you there, too.

Melancholy and narcolepsy – virtually each phrase that comes out of his mouth is riveting, the equal of century break after century break after century break.

So we return to Ronnie and the World Snooker Championship semi-final of 2006. Ronnie’s 5-3 forward and Dott’s having doubts. He is performed effectively and he is down by two.

Huge Del Hill comes within the room and will get to work on his man. Del is Dott’s coach and says: “Ronnie would not like taking part in you, you by no means go away, persist with him and he will not prefer it.”

Dott caught in. And Ronnie did not prefer it. Endurance within the security battles. Ronnie’s not getting in and he is aggravated. “It is gone to 8-8 and he shook my hand and it was like a double shake, he kinda grabbed my arm,” Dott recollects. “You would inform he had the nip. I assumed, ‘I’ve acquired you’. I knew it, I may sense it.”

He does Ronnie 17-11. He is again within the remaining, in opposition to Peter Ebdon this time.

‘When adrenaline leaves you, it is horrible’

John Higgins advised him later that he was destined to win that yr. It was to do with Alex Lambie, his father-in-law, his mentor and one in every of his finest associates. Lambie was dying of most cancers, however he made it to the Crucible for the ultimate. Gaunt, weak, however current. Victory was written within the stars.

“I received the primary session and the second session,” says Dott. “I are available in for the ultimate day and I am practising however I can hear dwell tv and all people’s saying Ebdon goes to make a comeback and I am going, ‘no, he will not’. I do know that if I win the third session it will break him.

“And I win the third session. I am 15-7. I solely want three extra. I had all the things sorted in my head – what I used to be going to say once I received and all that. On the interval, we had an hour. I went for a sleep.”

Coming again out, he felt essentially the most relaxed he’d ever been at a event. However from the depths of snooker hell, the demons rose up. “It is 15-8, 15-9, 15-10, 15-11,” Dott explains. “It would not occur fast as a result of Ebdon simply strangles you.

“I am going again within the dressing room and Del and Alex are talking to me however I am unable to hear them. I am gone. Like correct gone. I am having these horrible emotions about what is the greatest lead anyone’s ever had on the worlds and misplaced. It is embarrassing. When adrenaline leaves you, it is horrible.

“I do know that each participant goes to be watching the ultimate and I additionally know that each participant goes to know that I am gone as a result of you’ll be able to’t cover it. You possibly can see bottle. Snooker gamers simply discover. It goes to 15-12 (the body lasted 74 minutes), then 15-13. I managed a 60-break to make it 16-13 and all the things was like a pint of blood. He goes 16-14…”

Dott went to the bathroom, threw water on his face and advised himself to go on the assault. In case you see a pot, decide to it. And play fast. Play on intuition. You are happening, pal. Save your self.

“I am taking part in fast however in one other aspect of my mind I am listening to decelerate, this can be a huge a part of the sport and I am arguing with myself,” he says. “You stated you had been going to play fast so it’s good to play fast.

“I am on a break to make it 17-14 and I am so nervous it is unreal. I genuinely really feel I will be sick. I do not even know the way the balls are getting in. That clearance was the very best of my life. I used to be OK once more. I knew I might win, but when individuals may solely see the torture. It truly took the enjoyment away.”

Alex Lambie handed away later within the yr. Maybe Higgins was proper. Maybe it was future that Dott received.

He is at all times puzzled what sparked the terrible psychological well being issues he suffered within the 18 months to 2 years after Lambie’s demise, however a psychologist as soon as advised him that it may need had one thing to do with not taking time to grieve his father-in-law’s passing. He was at all times on the street taking part in tournaments. Snooker was an escape however perhaps a jail, too.

“I used to be like a shell,” Dott remembers. “Even pondering again now, it was a bit like a horror movie.

“In the future my spouse was going to school – she was finding out to be a nurse – and I used to be in the lounge. The TV wasn’t even on however I used to be simply watching it. She went away, got here again at two within the afternoon and I am nonetheless there. Simply staring. Or individuals would cellphone. Inform them I am within the tub. I did not need to converse to anyone.”

He nonetheless managed to play – and to lose. He reckons he misplaced 17 matches in a row at one level. He says he cannot even bear in mind being at a few of the tournaments he performed in. He was taking one shirt as a result of he knew he was going out within the first spherical.

He was taking part in in China as soon as and he was crying in his chair. He put a towel over his face to cover it.

“I do not truly converse to him, however Ronnie phoned me and was asking how I used to be as a result of he had been by way of it as effectively,” Dott says. “I assumed it was very nice of him. He would not actually converse to me, it isn’t as if we’re mates, but it surely was good of him to do this. And I checked out him differently after that.”

His spouse Elaine made him go to the physician. “My spouse is an absolute rock,” he says. “Unbelievable.”

Treatment put him heading in the right direction once more, but it surely was arduous. “I had darkish ideas,” he explains. “Whether or not you’ll do it or not, however positively, there is no level mendacity about it. I had the ideas. I considered jacking snooker in as effectively, however what am I going to do? No {qualifications}, what job am I going to get?

“Snooker’s all I’ve ever executed. After I was imagined to be sitting my exams in class I used to be in Finland taking part in an newbie event. I do not know anything.”

‘Hopefully it by no means will get to taking part in with a helmet on’

Getting by way of all of that made his look within the remaining in 2010 much more particular than his victory 4 years earlier, despite the fact that he misplaced to Neil Robertson. His melancholy was below management however a sleeping dysfunction had now gripped him. The medics imagine he suffers from a type of narcolepsy.

“A part of the mind controls sleep and mine would not work,” Dott outlines. “My spouse filmed me, put it on a time lapse. I am simply always transferring. Stressed leg, that is one other factor. Legs kicking in mattress. Tossing and turning continuous. Each time my mind is about to enter a deep sleep I get up and that is why I do not recharge.

“Dangerous narcolepsy it’s good to put on a helmet as a result of you’ll be able to go to sleep wherever at no discover. Hopefully it by no means will get to that – taking part in snooker with a helmet on.”

He laughs on the absurdity of the notion, however this can be a very severe factor. “I used to be exhausted within the 2010 remaining,” he recollects. “Not lots of people know this, however I am lethal severe, I got here into the dressing room on the final interval and Neil’s 14-12 or one thing like that and I stated, ‘I am unable to win’. And my mates had been going, ‘what do you imply you’ll be able to’t win?’ I am too drained, I am unable to play. See if it was a boxing match I might have thrown the towel in.

“I knew I wasn’t going to hit century, century, ninety. I knew if I used to be going to win a body it was going be a bitty body, a 40 break and a security battle and I assumed if that occurs I will should be right here till three within the morning. I used to be understanding the time. I will not even be awake at three within the morning, not to mention attempting to play snooker.”

Robertson beat him 18-13, however attending to the ultimate was candy sufficient. Three world finals, one world title. Most snooker gamers would take that profession in a heartbeat. Covid-19 introduced the melancholy to the floor once more previously yr however he is aware of the triggers now, is aware of what he must do to handle it.

He is missed out on the Crucible for the previous two years and wonders if he’ll get again there once more. It is a lengthy street however he is received larger battles in his life. It is like what huge Del stated throughout that semi in opposition to Ronnie. Simply stick in. “Oh, I will stick in all proper,” he provides. “I am not getting any youthful however I will not quit. I will preserve going.”


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