http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/tim-smith-leaves-dark-place-for-comeback/story-e6frexnr-1225766898518 Tim Smith leaves dark place for comeback By James Phelps From: The Daily TelegraphÂ August 28, 2009 12:00AM THE sun bounces off Tim Smith's face as he sits in a green field on the outskirts of Melbourne. He lies back basking in the warmth. In the light. But the darkness still lives inside him. The depression that ruined his career at Parramatta. Smith looks down at his shadow as he talks about the two weeks he spent sitting in a room in a Gold Coast rehabilitation clinic. With just a bed, a sink and a toilet, he was locked in this room, but he wasn't alone. The snarling black dog was there too. All teeth and terror. "I will always be bipolar,'' Smith said. "That is something that will never go away. I will get depressed from time to time, but it is something I have to deal with. "It is something I would not wish on anyone, but I have just had to learn to deal with.'' Just three years after being labelled the next Peter Sterling, this former Dally M rookie of the year found himself in a hospital room confronting his demons. His career had come crashing down after a series of alcohol-related misdemeanours. After playing three games of season 2008, Smith fronted a press conference at Parramatta Stadium on April 14 and told the world he was standing down from rugby league. While choking back tears, he also revealed he had been diagnosed with bipolar and said he needed help. "It was tough,'' Smith said. "Real tough. I was really lucky I had a lot of people around me that were very supportive. I don't know what would have happened without that support because it was the hardest time of my life. I spent two weeks in the clinic. I had to go in and talk about all this personal stuff. "They made me get it all off my chest. I would wake up early and go and talk to people. I had to open up about all my problems. I would have two or three of those sessions and then go back to my room and think about it. I had to stay there until they thought it was OK.'' Darkness had engulfed Smith in the weeks leading up to his shock departure from the Eels. He spent most of his time in his bedroom with the curtains drawn shut. "I just had to leave the Eels. It was for me and I did it for myself. I am still, to this day, glad I did it because I was in a real bad place.'' But 16 months on, Smith can see the light. He survived a 12-month stint with English Super League giants Wigan without incident. He now has his sights set on a return to the NRL. "I have always wanted to get back,'' Smith said. "At the time I needed to get away because of all the drama, but I am back now. "I think I have just grown up as a person. Obviously I have a girlfriend now and she has helped me a lot. We have known each other for a few years and we started dating about four months ago. She has helped give me stability.'' Smith, 24, is willing to do whatever it takes to return to the NRL and will play for just $50,000 a year if he has to. "Hopefully within a week or two I will have something nutted out,'' he said. "But I know I have to start all over again. I am not going to be on the money I was on, but I am willing to take that paycut. "I just want to get back in it and prove to myself I can be the player I know I can be.''