Rugby star Dennis Ombachi: I have Struggled with Mental Disorder and Depression for Many Years

June 2, 2021

Kenya Rugby Sevens Player Dennis Ombachi became the latest public figure to go public with his struggle against bipolar disorder and depression.

In a candid Twitter thread on Sunday morning, Ombachi said he was medically diagnosed with manic depression some years back. He narrated he had been suffering in silence as the condition affected both his life and that of his family.

“I am Dennis Ombachi, kind of an international rugby player and a guy who’s passionate about cooking, what many people don’t know is that I am medically diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For many years I have struggled with this & depression. I would usually disappear from social media & occasionally miss flights when I had made the team. This behaviour was always blamed on me “just being Dennis”. What my coaches and teammates didn’t know was how much pain I was in,” he started by saying.

The popular cooking aficionado continued: “For those who don’t know, Bipolar disorder means my moods can swing from elation to depression without warning; however, as long as I take my medication, I’m usually good. This has taken a toll on my family life over the years and I am thankful for the support I have received. When I say family, include the friends who have stuck by me and walked with me through the darkness all these years.”

Ombachi said he decided to go public with his mental health struggles to raise awareness and break the stereotype associated with mental illness.

“You may ask why I am saying this on Sunday morning, the answer is simple. Mental Health is affecting so many people but no one will come forward and talk about it because it’s considered taboo in our culture. For me, let me be the one.

“Many athletes and many ordinary people are facing this daily and they need help and understanding. If we talk about this more, then more people will no longer suffer in silence, the way I have all these years. I don’t need pity, I just want us to be more open to seeking professional help when we need it,” he tweeted.

Adding: “I have had spells with therapists, psychiatrist and spent time at Mental Health wellness centres. Again, thank Goodness for my friends who became family. They too can sigh with relief and now answer truthfully when people ask them “Where’s Dennis”.

Ombachi concluded that: “This is my truth, now I can get back to cooking and I’m sure the food will taste even better.”

Among the many people Ombachi inspired was Kenya 15s head coach Paul Odera, who acknowledged that mental health needs to be addressed in sports.

“Ombachi, your tweets on mental health have given me the courage and inspiration to do better as a national coach. You have shown that mental health in rugby needs coaches to know players as human beings first. Thank you for your bravery and leadership,” Odera wrote.

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