Media personality and former Melbourne star Garry Lyon in 2013.
Media personality and former Melbourne star Garry Lyon in 2013. Scott Barbour

Lyon 'couldn't have coped' with the glare on Hird

GARRY Lyon says he can empathise with James Hird's plight, after battling through his own mental demons in the public arena.

In a tell-all interview with Mike Sheahan, Lyon indicated he'd take a more "circumspect" approach to his radio and TV duties now that he understood what it was like to be under the media's glare.

"Oh, yeah, I do (empathise with James Hird)," Lyon told SEN Breakfast.

"The pressures that come with being a topic of interest - I'm not on that level, but I couldn't have coped.

"Thankfully no one knows where I live ... I wouldn't have been able to handle that at all and I was part of the media that was involved with that."

Hird was admitted to hospital earlier this month, after a suspected drug overdose. While Lyon made no mention of the Bombers' supplements scandal, he suggested he could understand how Hird's life could have unravelled so rapidly.

Lyon said he was amazed the former Essendon coach had the ability to address the media - who were often camped outside his house - and speak to them politely, while battling mental health issues.

By his own admission, Lyon conceded he had navigated through some "seriously dark times". And despite being back in the media, he said he was by no means over his depression.

While returning to work signalled he was out of his house-bound slump, it was just one step of many he still needed to take.

Regardless, Lyon said he suspected cynicism from certain camps, particularly those who believed his depression was a front for his relationship with Billy Brownless's ex-wife, Nicky.

"I'm back working, but I haven't got a handle on this by any stretch," Lyon said of his mental illness.

"You don't just get over depression, like, 'I'm fixed, I'm better'. The only thing I do know is you monitor it closely and have some procedures in place to shortcut where you have been."

Lyon confessed his most difficult times came at the end of 2015, when he was unable to get himself off the couch and out the door to Christmas events.

Without the structure of his football duties, as well as the breakdown of his marriage, he struggled to find motivation, let alone pick up the phone and ask for help.

"I got myself into a hole. I couldn't get off the couch. I didn't want to face the day," Lyon said.

"It was the end of the football season at the end of 2015. Normally I'd be relishing a break and getting away, but I couldn't and didn't."

Only a few months later, Lyon's relationship with Brownless's ex-wife became public.

Lyon said he was still guilt-ridden for the impact the saga had had on his three boys, ex-wife Melissa and extended family.

"It's important I apologise publicly for the hurt they've been through," he said.

"I couldn't pick the phone up and say, 'I'm struggling'.

"Every day I didn't, it got harder to do. There were things that needed to happen and I couldn't do them.

"Everyone wants to be a hero to their kids, and they've only seen me in a light of ... doing what I do in the media ... So I try and shield them from (my) emotions because you don't want to worry about how they're feeling."

Work-life balance is a priority for Lyon, who now recognises that his workload and mental health are intrinsically linked.

He won't return to The Footy Show, but will take up hosting duties on a Monday night for Footy Classified, in conjunction with his morning radio show on SEN.

"This is very new age, but I'm looking for inner peace," Lyon said.

"Stepping back into this media world - which is as combative as playing footy at times - you think you need to fly the flag and take that up (sometimes). Balance is where we are at."

If you need help or are struggling with a mental health illness call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or visit, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

News Corp Australia

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