Bailey Smith has revealed the full extent of his mental health battles in a tell-all interview and admitted he has struggled to brush his teeth after photos circulated of the AFL star holding a bag of white powder.
The Western Bulldogs player, 21, admitted he turned to partying after a devastating grand final loss to the Demons which caused his mental health to spiral.
Smith struggled with debilitating anxiety during a stint in the Gold Coast last year, where a video was filmed of him appearing to snort an unknown substance.
The video, taken in a nightclub, surfaced on social media on Saturday and was accompanied by a photo of the 21-year-old holding a bag of white powder.
Bailey Smith (right) has revealed how his mental health got so bad he struggled to get out of bed after photos circulated of the AFL star holding a bag of white powder
The footage shows Smith (with his back to the camera) turning around and grabbing his nose after appearing to snort an unknown substance in a Gold Coast nightclub last year
Smith and the Bulldogs have subsequently confirmed the white powder he was photographed holding in the small bag was an illicit substance.
In lieu of the leaked photo and video, the player said he had not brushed his teeth ‘in two days just because of this stuff’.
However, the advocate for mental health is said to be ‘relieved’ and looking forward to taking accountability for his actions.
He told the Herald Sun that ‘chronic anxiety’ had caused him to suffer through many dark days, where even everyday tasks felt impossible.
‘I reckon I went days without eating, even brushing my teeth, leaving my bedroom, I couldn’t talk to people,’ Smith said of life after the grand final loss.
The player admitted the thought of quitting AFL entirely had crossed his mind and that being unable to get out of bed meant he didn’t attend training.
Smith said his battle with mental health wasn’t an excuse for his foray onto the party scene but said it provided context as to why he made a ‘stupid decision’.
Images of Smith holding up a bag of white powder emerged on Saturday, before he and the Bulldogs admitted the powder was an illicit substance
‘I reckon I went days without eating, even brushing my teeth, leaving my bedroom, I couldn’t talk to people,’ Smith said of his life after the grand final loss (pictured on June 3)
He said it was hard to face up to the consequences but wanted to prove to others, especially men, that there was always the option to learn and grow from mistakes.
‘It’s a period of my life where I feel ashamed. I’m extremely remorseful, embarrassed … it’s something I’ve got to live with,’ he said.
‘Hopefully I can rebuild my image and work on myself and be a better human for the people around me.’
The incident occurred during the AFL off-season and before the 21-year-old took personal leave for mental-health related issues.
Smith has credited his girlfriend Gemma Dawkins, his parents, Bulldogs teammates and coach Luke Beveridge for helping him get back on his feet.
Smith (pictured) has credited his girlfriend Gemma Dawkins, his parents, Bulldogs teammates and coach Luke Beveridge for helping him get back on his feet
He said Beveridge was the first to reach out when photos and videos emerged over the weekend and gave him his full support.
Meanwhile, Smith is expected to admit to the AFL’s integrity team he used cocaine and accept a two-week ban.
While his show of contrition is unlikely to spare him a suspension, it could at least convince the AFL show some leniency.
A two-week ban is the most likely outcome which will rule Smith out until Round 18, as he’s about to start serving a two-week suspension for head-butting.
Smith (pictured on May 13 during a clash with the Collingwood Magpies) is expected to admit to the AFL’s integrity team he used cocaine and accept a two-week ban
Under AFL rules, players only receive strikes when they fail a drug test during the season or when they are caught publicly taking drugs.
‘I have made mistakes. I am very aware of that, and I fully own it,’ he said in a statement released on Saturday.
‘I unreservedly apologise to my family, my teammates, my club and its sponsors, the AFL, my supporters and my sponsors.
‘I have made mistakes, but I resolve to learn from each and to do all I can to avoid letting myself down, and those around me.’
Smith is expected to train with the Bulldogs as usual at Whitten Oval on Monday.
Statement from Western Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains
We are extremely disappointed to have observed social media content showing Bailey Smith with an illicit substance.
This content was captured after the 2021 AFL season, while the players were on personal leave.
We absolutely do not condone our players being involved with illicit substances and firmly believe players are well-educated on what constitutes appropriate behaviour.
As a football club with significant influence, we have a responsibility to uphold the highest of standards, as we represent the community, our members and fans, our corporate partners and our other stakeholders.
Bailey is a young man who has faced many challenges and pressures off the field in recent times which he has spoken of extensively. He endured a particularly difficult time towards the end of last year that ultimately led to time away from football.
While this clearly does not excuse his behaviour, it is our responsibility as a Club to ensure we have supported, and we continue to support, Bailey’s health and wellbeing.
We are encouraged that this year, Bailey has successfully put steps in place to ensure he can manage his mental health and be strong in his decision-making, while being able to perform to the best of his ability on the field. This has been reflected in his strong on-field performances across the 2022 AFL season.
The Club has supported Bailey through this process, and we will continue to work closely with him and provide him the support he needs, as he continues his journey as a Bulldogs player.
The Club and the AFL Integrity Unit continue to investigate the emergence of the content on social media and the context surrounding it. An outcome of that investigation will be communicated in due course.