RICKY HATTON shakes his head as he recalls the pressure of the cold knife against his wrist.
This memory, of tears streaming down his face as he contemplated killing himself, is a vivid one as it happened every week for 12 months in the most traumatic year of the former boxer’s life.
“I didn’t care if I lived or f***ing died, I really didn’t,” Hatton says, sat in the office of his gym in Hyde.
“I could come in the gym to train with the boys and they’d think I was alright, but I’d go home and sit there crying. Without even a drink in me, I'd get the knife out and do it again.”
Hatton, who turns 40 next month, runs his finger along the inside of his bulging, tattooed forearm to imitate the action.
It was back in the summer of 2009, following a brutal knockout defeat to Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas, that Hatton reached his lowest ebb.
The scrappy welterweight had tasted defeat in the same ring two years prior when he was stopped in the 10th round by American Floyd Mayweather Jr. — but this time it was different.
Hatton had been humiliated: Pacquiao was too fast, too accurate and too evasive, leaving the Mancunian lying in the middle of the canvass, knocked out cold in less than two rounds.
Everything got too much for 'The Hitman': “I’d got the chance to fight Pacquiao, pound for pound and got blasted in two rounds.
'Just seeing my dad drive past the gym would send me f***ing under'
“Then I fell out with my mam and dad so I was even more down, I fell out with [trainer] Billy Graham, and then reality kicked in that my days were numbered.
“Just seeing my dad drive past the gym would send me f***ing under.
“It was an absolutely horrendous time. I sat in my house and would go two days without saying a word.
“Jennifer [then girlfriend] would say to me, ‘Do you want a brew?’ and I’d just nod, not say a single word for days.”
Today, however, Hatton is in characteristic mood, joking with staff and showing off a risqué fancy dress outfit he’ll be wearing on a trip to Benidorm later this year.
Yet inside the walls of his office, he is explaining his depression as he speaks exclusively to SunSport as part of our You’re Not Alone suicide prevention campaign. We're calling on readers to know the signs to look for in themselves and others, to not be afraid to speak out and to ask for help.
The Hitman says: “People with success are less able to cope because you’re used to being on Mount Everest and when it’s gone, what do you do?
“It doesn’t matter about your belts or the trophy cabinet or the money in the bank, it’s up there” – he points to his temple – “that you need help.”
One of the boxers Hatton regularly talks to about mental health issues is Tyson Fury.
The former heavyweight champion’s battle with depression has been well-publicised but he’s back in the ring and targeting a title fight.
“We have little chats here and there about how to deal with it,” Hatton says.
“The only thing I worry for Tyson long-term is once boxing has gone, you can’t go back. He’s got to do what I do. I hope I’m the one he turns to.”
Hatton knows how to come out the other side.
“I’d go as far as to say that it feels like it’s gone – but I know it hasn’t,” he explains.
Hatton’s psychiatrist advised him to have photographs saved to his mobile of his three children, his world titles, cheering fans, and his beloved Manchester City.
“You wouldn’t think it would but it really works,” he says.
Hatton believes he has always had depression, that it lurked within him from a young age.
“I had a complex of what people thought of me,” he says. “For someone that did boxing, I was very, very weak from the outset.
“When I got successful and people started talking about me, I didn’t want anyone thinking I thought I was a ‘big time Charlie’.”
Such a successful career meant Hatton was able to keep his feelings at bay.
From his first professional fight in September 1997 to December 2007, he was unbeaten in 42 bouts before facing Mayweather.
Hatton says: “It was always there but it came to the forefront because by the time the Mayweather fight came I was unbeaten."
'I was too embarrassed to have a pint with my mates'
He'd been riding high with lots of success, adored by fans, and amassed a mighty fortune.
“Once I got beat by Mayweather I felt so ashamed. I cancelled all my functions, all my appearances, I didn’t want to walk down the street.
“I was too embarrassed to even go and have a pint with my mates.”
After repeatedly 'bottling' suicide attempts with a knife, Hatton reveals he started trying to drink himself to death.
“Then I took drugs to help me drink more," he says.
In 2010, Hatton apologised after he was caught snorting cocaine. He had been known for drinking and partying but not drugs.
“I needed saving because I wasn’t going to do it myself and I wasn’t going to ask for help,” he says.
The turning point came when Jennifer fell pregnant.
“They say things happen for a reason and Millie wasn’t even planned,” he says.
“I went to hospital and held her in my arms and that was when the penny dropped. I’d felt like it was just me on my own but holding Millie I thought I’d get myself together.
“I got a psychiatrist, started talking and getting things off my chest.”
'It was when I held my daughter in my arms that the penny dropped'
Hatton first discussed his issues at The Priory but ended up finding true solace at former England captain Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance Clinic.
“They asked how you felt when it was in the paper and in the news, when your team and gym mates knew what you’d been up to. They can relate,” he says.
Hatton came out the other end with a new purpose in life.
He says: “My job now is to train professional boxers, promote boxers, manage boxers, after dinner speaking, and I like to think I’m a patron for mental health. I see that as my job now.”
Music from the gymnasium below vibrates through the floor boards. This is where Hatton has always felt most at ease.
He smiles and says: “If one of my boys wins a British title or a world title they say, ‘Thanks, Ricky, I’ve got my mortgage paid off now’ or something like that.
“That’s where I get my little buzz out of life now.”