Ronnie O’Sullivan speaks out on anxiety struggles: ‘For two years I’ve held it down’

Ronnie O’Sullivan is feeling as confident as he has done for some time (Picture: Getty Images)

Ronnie O’Sullivan says his issues with his own game have led to him taking medication for anxiety, but is finally feeling better after two years ‘in the doldrums.’

The Rocket is into the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship after seeing off Jackson Page and Ryan Day in the opening two rounds.

He is looking to end an already brilliant season in style by adding the world title to five other big events he has picked up over the campaign.

The 48-year-old has cut a frustrated figure over the season, despite his immense success, but is looking and sounding generally more positive in Sheffield.

After beating Page in round one the Rocket suggested he is going to push on into his 50s and see how many more world titles he can win, sounding a lot more buoyant than recent months.

O’Sullivan spoke about working with a new coach ahead of the Crucible this year and he certainly has a bit more pep in his step after two years of not feeling at his best and struggling with anxiety over his game to the point he had to take medication for it.

‘I’ve had such a long time in the doldrums,’ O’Sullivan told the BBC after beating Day 13-7. ‘For two years I’ve held it down, I’ve not really mentioned anything but it’s been really challenging.

Cazoo World Snooker Championship 2024 - Day Ten

O’Sullivan has coasted into the last eight in Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve had to take medication for the anxiety and all that sort of stuff, even in small tournaments, even when I’m not playing. That’s how bad the game can make me feel at times.

‘I didn’t want to do that anymore. I’ve just had a bit of excitement for the last couple of weeks, getting through the ball a little bit better. Then you come down crashing to earth. I was out there last night and it started to wander a bit. It was like, can we fix it? Can we get it back on track? There were some good bits there today.’

‘I’m just getting a bit more optimism a bit more belief that I can sustain it. It’s no good being able to do it for one match or one tournament you’ve got to try and sustain it for a few months, even a year. I played great for three years once, never had a bad day, so it can happen, you just have to get everything right.’

O’Sullivan has often tried to play down how much he is affected by the sport he sits atop of, but admits it is almost impossible to separate his emotions from how his game feels.

‘When I find this game hard my life gets harder. When I find this game easy it comes good to me, life becomes a pleasant place again,’ he said.

‘I’ve tried to disassociate from it, it’s not easy, I’ve tried to not let the sport identify me, but it’s hard. I’ve probably accepted it’s never going to happen.

‘I’ve just tried to minimise the bad performances or what I consider bad feelings out there when I’m playing. If I’m cueing well and lose I’m in a great place because I’m looking forward to the next one. When you’re winning and not looking forward to playing, it’s like, where do I go from here? It’s not a good place to be.’

MORE : Ronnie O’Sullivan brushes aside wasteful Ryan Day to reach Crucible quarter-final

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