A frozen moment in the unforgiving glare of a live television audience, and the door into Wally Lewis's private hell creaked ajar in the most public fashion.
A powerful figure who once dominated his sport like no other, rugby league legend Lewis this week revealed his years of torment at the hands of an illness that buried him beneath a crushing depression.
Lewis has battled epilepsy for more than a quarter of a century, staving off its influence through his career highs and lows, now emerging out the other end of an ordeal that took him repeatedly to the brink, figuratively and literally.
As epileptic fits tormented the man known as the King, thoughts of suicide became a regular companion, to the point where Lewis even found himself poised on the water's edge at his Queensland home during his recent recovery from major surgery.
"Suicide was something I thought of probably every two or three days," Lewis told Woman's Day this week. "I went to the jetty that runs off my backyard and I thought, 'Do I just jump off? Do I put myself in a bag full of bricks? How do I do it …?'
"To be very honest, I didn't know whether I had the mental capacity to start planning which way it was going to happen. I just kept thinking, 'I can’t take this anymore'."
The depression that drove Lewis to contemplate ending his life had returned in spades after last year's operation aimed at relieving his condition led to the removal of a piece of his brain approximately 3cm x 5cm.
The courage to undergo the surgery alone was a significant step for Lewis, even before the long road back to being 'almost normal' now took its toll.
"I'd managed to keep my epilepsy under guard for about 25 years," Lewis said.
”I just didn't think there was any benefit in people knowing. I told my wife Jacqui, but I didn't talk too much about the problems to our three kids. I didn't want to worry them.
"But Jacqui made sure they knew, always telling them to keep an eye out for Dad, which they've done. The kids have been amazing. I don't think it's been fun for them at all these past couple of years. So much pressure and worry looking out for Dad, staying home with me when Jacqui wasn't here to make sure I was OK.
"I must admit I was pretty much a coward about going through with the surgery. I kept dodging that option as I'd seen a colleague go through it and I was shocked by what I saw. I met him and he could barely speak and it terrified me. I knew it would be a long road back."
But the on-air seizure where Lewis's condition was laid bare proved a turning point in his willingness to treat the problem.
Previously Lewis had struggled on through the episodes, which appeared at age 19 and troubled him right through his footballing career, but when he froze in front of the Channel Nine cameras on November 30 in 2006 while reading the news his illness had started to take control.
"I got to the end of things here, I was dirty on the world, no-one could help me," he told Woman's Day. "The only thing I was thinking about was screwing up on air again. I used to arrive on the set of Channel Nine every night and I'd be absolutely petrified that something was going to happen on camera. When the seizures did occur I'd sink down and think, how much longer do I have to deal with this?
"When the on-air seizure happened, I told myself, 'You're better off dead than going through that again'. I felt like I'd let so many people down, in particular my family."
After the surgery though, Lewis struggled to keep it together.
"The pain was unbearable," he said. "I had pain-killers but I was very scared of becoming addicted, so I'd take half a tablet rather than a full one. And then one day I wanted to get something from the kitchen, but every time I'd walk in there I'd forget what I wanted. I went into the kitchen four times, and each time I just couldn't remember. I freaked out and started to shake. I walked into the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror and all I could see was this terrified man.
"My eldest boy Mitchell looked at me one day and said, 'Are you all right Dad? What's wrong?' And I replied, 'Nothing, nothing's wrong'. But when I looked back into the mirror I saw that I was crying. I tried to stop but I couldn't, and I kept shaking more and more.
"And Jacqui would be trying to tell me things that I couldn't remember and I'd start crying again. It got to a point where I had more dark thoughts – 'Am I going to keep doing this to my family? I'm crying all the time, they have to stay here and look after me and I'm too scared to go out. I'm falling everywhere'."
"So I wondered if it would be easier just to go and top myself."
But Lewis's family supported him through his recovery and now the man many tout as the best ever rugby league player is almost back to his old self.
"The difference in Wally is like night and day," his wife Jacqui told the magazine. "Thanks to the operation last February, he's finally got control of his life again. He's not having seizures, which were turning him into a recluse, making him hide within himself.
"He was forever worried when the next seizure was going to come. We basically lost Wally to the nightmare of the seizures for about 20 years."
Wally may have been lost, but now the King is back.