Chris Kamara saw himself as “a burden” and thought his family would be “better off” without him while suffering silently from speech problems.
The jubilant Sky Sports reporter was a fan-favourite on Soccer Saturday but had his life turned upside down after developing slurred speech due to a condition called apraxia. Kamara visibly began to struggle with the pronunciation of player names live on air – something which has since seen him step down from his job after 24-years with the broadcaster.
Now the 65-year-old has opened up about the “lowest point” in his life. In an extract from his book, titled Kammy, serialised in the Mirror, he recalls developing dark thoughts as a result of his struggles while keeping the condition hidden from his family.
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Kamara regularly talked to animals at the end of his garden in an attempt to unravel his thoughts during that period – and some of those thoughts extended to close friend Gary Speed, who took his own life in 2011.
His passage reads: “I’m a man who has always wanted to help, to provide, to love and nurture those around me. And now I could only see myself as a burden. A shell of the man I used to be that they would be left to look after. Seeing myself like that was like staring into an abyss. I could never reconcile that image in my head. It was unthinkable.
“And it’s at that point I’d think, ‘They’d be better off without me.’ I thought of Gary Speed and then I thought of my own position – a man in his mid-sixties, whose best days, because of a brain condition, were gone, struggling on."
Kamara would think about taking “himself out of the picture” so that his wife and children would not have to deal with his post-illness state. That is something he now puts down to trying to cope with the issue alone, stating that sharing his problems is what allowed him to consider a brighter future.
He eventually made the positive decision to go public with his diagnosis on Twitter, where he wrote: “Just wanted to let a few of you know who tweeted me today that I am ok-ish. I have developed Apraxia of Speech & have been working to get my speech back to normal. Some days it can be a little slow and some days it’s normal. Hopefully I can beat this!’”
Kamara added that it is hard to look back on those “dark times”. But he hopes he can now help others in similar positions by being open about his struggles.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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