- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Montana wide receiver Ellis Henderson will be back on the field this fall after a battle with depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome that he says brought him to the brink of suicide.

A combination of medication and working with a therapist is helping him deal with chronic depression, Henderson said.

Henderson says he’d previously struggled with bouts of deep sadness, but in the spring of 2014 he was spending days in his bedroom, missing class, wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t keep food down and was losing weight.

“My first thought I’d have was thinking of ways to end my life,” Henderson told the Missoulian in an interview. “I kept thinking of reasons I shouldn’t, why I should, what would be different.”

As he became malnourished he felt worse and his thoughts frayed.

“It’s a vicious cycle and you beat up on yourself,” he said.

When Ellis met with the receivers coach about his missed classes before spring ball was to begin, he finally spoke about all of his struggles. He was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders in March 2014. Doctors said a bacterial infection was causing irritable bowel syndrome. By July 2014 he had lost 20 pounds.

He was named a preseason All-American after catching passes for more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2013.

But he continued to struggle last fall, especially after comedian and actor Robin Williams committed suicide. His antidepressants weren’t effective and with the stress of school and football, Ellis withdrew from school. He had played in four games.

Depression and anxiety disorders affect 40 million adult Americans each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

After several tries, his doctors have found a medication that works and Ellis has a support system of family and friends. He revamped his diet and began training again.

Ellis re-enrolled in school in January and joined the Grizzlies for spring practice in March.

The Big Sky Conference returned Ellis’ year of eligibility and the NCAA has granted him a waiver of academic progress requirements. He says he’s grateful to be back as a redshirt junior.

“When something like this gets taken away, you appreciate every little thing that you do,” he said. “The fact that I’m here and back on the field, I couldn’t be more thankful.”


Information from: Missoulian, https://www.missoulian.com

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