WHEN former Brumby and Wallaby Clyde Rathbone spoke up about his struggle with depression earlier this year, he committed himself to breaking down some of the barriers surrounding how depression is perceived in Australia.
‘‘There’s a stigma attached to it, and the only way that you can disarm that stigma is to expose the fact that it shouldn’t be treated any differently to other illnesses, and that there are steps that people can take to overcome depression,’’ he said.
Rathbone had been living with some form of depression throughout most of his rugby career, but the routine and the adrenaline of professional sport acted as a life raft, keeping him afloat.
When injury forced his retirement in 2009, there was nowhere to hide from the illness that had dogged him on and off for years.
‘‘When I retired I had to really confront these issues and go and get some help, make sure that my lifestyle in terms of exercise, diet, sleep and all these things that are fairly simple things, that are really important in making sure that you get as well and as healthy as possible,’’ he said.
‘‘From a lifestyle perspective it was an incredibly turbulent, very difficult, very emotional time, but incredibly valuable.
‘‘Moving through that has got me to the space where I don’t have to worry about my mental health, because working through the process has allowed me to establish a really healthy lifestyle,’’ he said.
Now Rathbone is using his profile as a respected international sportsman to raise awareness for mental health issues in the community, and has teamed up with local mental health residence Home to help support its annual movie night fundraiser next Friday night.
Home provides long-term accommodation and a loving, stable environment for people with mental illness who cannot live independently or are at risk of homelessness.
Rathbone said he was inspired by the work Home did in the Queanbeyan community, particularly as it’s proudly community run and funded, and received no government assistance.
‘‘It’s struck me how widespread and how prevalent depression is - a number of people contacted me saying ‘I went through something similar’. It really is everywhere to an extent, and that’s one of the reasons why I was very keen to talk about it, to get people to have these kinds of discussions,’’ he said.
‘‘If you are struggling with something, understand that there are steps you can take to overcome depression, or if you know one who’s struggling, to understand that there are things you can do to assist them.’’
Rathbone will make a brief address at the Home movie night next Friday night, starting from 6pm at the Q Theatre.
This year’s movie will be the academy award-winning ‘The Lives of Others,’ a political thriller set in 1980s East Berlin.
There will be drinks and hot food on offer before and after the movie, and some great raffle prizes to be won.
Tickets are $65 and cover pre dinner drinks (open bar), hot snacks, entry to the movie, and post movie drinks (open bar) and cheese platters.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.theq.net.au or from The Q Box Office 6285 6290.