Sharni Layton opens up on 'pretty scary' mental struggles

Former Australian netball captain Sharni Layton says she'd happily trade all her physical injuries from the sport to avoid the mental health battle that has stalled her international career.

Layton hasn't played for the Diamonds since mid 2017, with the national body saying she was taking an extended break due to "exhaustion".

She missed selection for next month's Commonwealth Games after winning gold with the team in Glasgow in 2014.

But the 29-year-old Collingwood defender opened up on her struggle with mental health on the sports social platform 20FOUR on Tuesday.

Talking through tears, Layton said she had been in a "really bad spot mentally".

"I took time off to be able to get my head right and to seek help. I didn't realise how bad I was," Layton said.

Sharni Layton. Pic: Getty

"After taking some time off I realised that I wasn't OK and it was going to take a bit longer to get back than what I had of hoped."

Layton said she still didn't really understand her illness, but attributed to taking too much on.

At the start of the Super Netball competition in 2016, the goalkeeper was everywhere to promote the sport as well as training hard with the Magpies and for the Test side.

"That's why I haven't spoken up about it earlier because I still don't really understand it - it's such a hard thing to explain," Layton said.

"I'm a bull at a gate and I was probably trying too much and had a bit much on my plate trying to push the sport, play my best netball, trying to do everything.

"You just can't and my mind was constantly on edge."

Layton said it was harder to deal with than a physical problem when there's immediate diagnosis and prognosis.

"The amount of injuries I've had have put me out for a good two years of rehab and I would rather have them all at one time than a mental health injury because you have a plan and you know what you're doing," she said.

"When you don't know what's going on in your head it's pretty scary."

While she was reluctant to talk about her struggles until now, Layton said the netball community had been a great support with messages coming from people she didn't even know.

Recently overcoming an ankle injury, Layton is training for the opening game of the Super Netball season in late April and hopes to return soon to the national fold.

If you are concerned about the mental health of yourself or a loved one, seek support and information by calling Lifeline 13 11 14, Mensline 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

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