As a double weight world champion boxer, Nigel Benn’s life was filled with everything that he could ever imagine, but something was always missing. His addiction to sex, drugs & alcohol resulted in a severe case of depression. But it was his suicide attempt that brought him closer to the Lord. Now retired, he now explains how he overcame his depression, and the addictions that caused it, in order to inspire others.
What led you to depression?
I think it was my lifestyle. I think it started off a long time ago from the death of my brother, when I was 8. But what really lead me to the depression, was… I didn’t know how to break the cycle of the addiction I had with sex & drugs and to be cheating on my wife for like 16 years. It’s very hard to understand it unless you have actually been through it. I was lying to myself about my addiction. I tried to fight it. I was drawn to women. That was my biggest weakness. And that’s what brought me to depression. I just couldn’t break it, and that’s when I took some sleeping tablets and put a hose in my car and just tried to end it all. But I believe that God had other plans for me, and I broke my struggle when I met Jesus.
Did you think it was the lifestyle that made you want to take your life?
I don’t even know if I really wanted to die. I think I was just crying out for help. We all cry out for help. I was knocking at the door and the Lord heard me. He came in and saved me from the pit of hell.
I think it was like a sign. I was sitting in my car, crying my eyes out. Two-time world champion, but it isn’t happening. Something just told me “this simply isn’t going to happen like this” and I just drove home. You’re not in your right frame of mind when you start doing things like that. You’re not thinking right. You’re not stable. You’re all over the place. God just had other plans. Maybe that fourth time I wouldn’t have been here today, but was I really crying out for attention, did I want to die or did I just want someone to help me? God heard my cry.
How did you get from being so depressed to finding the Lord?
It wasn’t as easy as that. I was very fascinated about how we see, hear, move, breathe and what life is about. I don’t believe in evolution. Just the intricate details of an eyeball. Feeling, touch, love and it all comes from a Big Bang? No. What God has done for my marriage, are the miracles that I believe in. I was really fascinated by reading the Bible and about how it all started. I was just connected. I just can’t believe in the Big Bang.
What advice would you give to someone that’s going through the same situation?
Well, me personally, it was only Jesus that healed me. I can’t say, “well, go see this counsellor” because my belief is that Jesus healed me. People have different interpretations on it. Depression is very hard to deal with, and the only way I was able to get through it was by renewing my mind by the Bible. People who do get counselling – good for them. I wish them all the best with it. But my counsellor was Jesus.
Thirty-two years together with my wife and we’re happier now because He’s part of my life.
Do you think talking to others helps?
Absolutely. You got to have a true friend that’s going to be able to help you, so that you can really express yourself, because it allows you to release something that’s inside you. It can take a long time or it can take a short time. I don’t know how many times I cried. Big strong man like me, cried, to get it all off my chest. It was a great feeling because I hadn’t realised, from the age of eight, I had so much hurt.
Nigel now lives a true Christian life in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and four children.
– Lauren Yeates