The persistent concussion symptoms that forced Dane Coles to miss the Test series against the British and Irish Lions left the New Zealand hooker contemplating the prospect of premature retirement.
Coles is due to make his first Super Rugby appearance for Hurricanes since suffering a blow to the head in March, an incident that left him indefinitely sidelined with recurring problems and was compounded by a calf injury.
A 2015 Rugby World Cup winner, capped 49 times by his country, Coles played no part in the drawn series against the Lions, but is relieved to be back in selection contention for Friday's quarter-final against the Brumbies.
"I got into a bit of a dark place," he told reporters.
"I couldn't even do any exercise and I had conversations with my partner about retirement. It was really hard. I love playing footy, it's my job and I couldn't do it.
"There were a lot of days thinking about it, it was constantly on my mind and it wasn't till I saw a sports psychologist I was referred to, that put some structure in my life and the way I was thinking. I was quite negative, not in a bad way, just thinking 'this might be it'.
"I had a talk to my missus and said 'this might be us, I might be hanging up the boots' and that was about it.
"Nothing like trying to find a new job or anything, just the way I was thinking and the state I was in. I spoke to a few good people and they gave me some really good structures to help me see a positive mindset and turn things around."