NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Predators left winger Austin Watson is speaking out about his struggles with alcoholism and mental illness after his arrest last year.
In an Instagram post on Friday, Watson says he has been dealing with anxiety, depression and alcoholism since he was 18.
Watson says he was sober for 23 months before he relapsed in May 2018.
He was arrested on a domestic assault charge the next month after an incident involving his girlfriend.
"On June 16th we engaged in a heated, nonphysical argument. I did not cause marks on her chest or blood on her leg. I did handle matters that day poorly and did not uphold the standards of an employee of the Nashville Predators or the National Hockey League," Watson says.
In the post, Watson takes "full responsibility" for his involvement in the argument.
"During the month leading up to the incident, we had both relapsed, our relationship had become tense, and we made a series of poor decisions that lead us to that day," Watson says.
Following the incident, Watson was suspended for 27 games by the NHL. After an appeal, the suspension was reduced to 18 games.
Watson says he and his girlfriend are in a good place and are "healthy, happy and committed to our own individual sobriety as well as continuing to strengthen our relationship."
Watson and his girlfriend, Jennifer, have a child together.
Watson says he decided to issue this statement after much prayer and contemplation in the last few days before his 27th birthday.
Mental Illness runs rampant in the world today. In my experience it can often feel lonely, consuming, and at times unbearable. Please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who seem to have the picture perfect life, no problems in the world. Yet I deal and I battle just as much as and no more than the next person. I’ve been blessed with many obstacles, traumas and hard times to overcome. Doing the next right thing doesn’t always seem easy, but it’s worth it. Perspective is everything to me, and when I look at the beautiful and downright amazing things in my life that I feel unworthy of, I realize how fortunate I am to be me. If you’re feeling alone today, you’re not. If you feel like no ones cares, I do. If there doesn’t seem to be any chance of it getting better, believe me it will. I hope I’ve helped someone today the way others who’ve shared have helped me.
Click here to read the full Instagram post.