Portela shares inspirational story during mental health week

Portela shares inspirational story during mental health week

Diogo Portela has shared his inspirational story of dealing with mental health issues as part of the PDPA's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week.
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Diogo Portela has shared his inspirational story of dealing with mental health issues as part of the PDPA's Mental Health and Wellbeing Week.

Portela will return to the World Championship on Sunday December 19 to face Alan Soutar in a first round clash, a year on from an emotional night on the Ally Pally stage.

The Brazilian was left in floods of tears after his first round win over Steve Beaton at last year's World Championship having come through a turbulent nine months away from the oche.

An ill daughter and depression were among the challenges Portela had to contend with in 2020 before seeking help for depression helped him on the path to recovery.

Speaking to PDPA Communications Manager and darts commentator Chris Murphy, Portela opened up on his story.

"Life was going well, my wife was pregnant and everything seemed in place," said Portela.

"My darts were going well and I had a very good opportunity to expose darts in Brazil as the first Portuguese commentator.

"Then Covid hit and everything changed."

An emergency caesarean had to be carried out during the birth of Portela's daughter who then became severely ill in the following weeks before being successfully operated on.

"From one week to the next my life was turned upside down," Portela explained.

"Because of Covid I couldn't be in the same room as my wife while she was having an emergency C-Section.

"For two weeks after the birth we'd been sleeping for 25-30 minutes a night, we were both so stressed worrying about our daughter. It was a nightmare.

"Life was beautiful and all of a sudden my life was turned upside down.

"On top of everything else we were suffering financially as I wasn't playing darts and my wife had her salary cut due to the pandemic."

Diogo Portela
Portela cried 'tears of joy' on the Ally Pally stage

However, it wasn't until after the worst of the storm had passed that Portela began feeling effects on his mental health and wellbeing.

Portela continued: "During that time I needed to be the rock of my family.

"Around August time things started to get a bit better - my daughter was getting better, things were opening up again but that's when my mental health suffered.

"But once the adrenaline of the last few months started to calm down I was like 'I can't deal with it'.

"Everything seemed to be normal again but I felt like I didn't want to be here anymore, I didn't want to go through this."

Portela sought help by contacting the PDPA, whose partnership with Sporting Chance saw him referred to a therapist who helped him understand the way he was feeling.

"I messaged Alan Warriner-Little [PDPA Chief Executive] and said to him, 'I need help, I'm going to give up'," said Portela.

"He called me and I explained the situation and he gave me the advice to talk to Sporting Chance.

"The PDPA paid for 12 sessions of counselling, just to talk to someone who could understand the feeling and share some sympathy and that helped.

"The therapist explained I had a lack of mental energy after everything I'd been through, I needed a rest mentally.

"I started playing better darts, I went to the World Championship last year and played well. That gave me a little bit of hope, I realised I still love the game.

"It was a good feeling. It was tears of joy and I showed myself how good I am.

"For every door shut in my face, for every scary moment in hospital, I overcame all this and put on a decent performance on the biggest stage of all."

Diogo Portela
Portela will return to the World Championship this month

Following his ordeal, the 33-year-old wants to encourage other people to reach out for help.

Portela added: "Mental health is a real issue. I thought I was mentally strong because I always overcame problems in my life.

"But it is a real thing and it can hit you overnight.

"If you have any signs of depression or bad thoughts please look for help. There are a lot of people going through the same problems so just look for help.

"You can only win by asking for help."

Professional, confidential support is available to all PDPA members through the PDPA's partnership with Sporting Chance.

Click here to visit the PDPA's official website.