Affirm is the fund-raising arm of the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research and with sponsorship from SAP and the Canberra Business Council its annual executive lunch was a resounding success in telling a story by an admired sportsman who joins a growing list of elite sports stars to declare their battles with depression. And it's not that we are dismissive or shocked any more as statistics tell us that one in five of us will have depression or a mental illness, but we're always surprised when it's the one you didn't expect.
Clyde Rathbone is a rugby player. But that promising career hit rockbottom for Rathbone when injury sidelined him and he fell into a black pit of depression that had probably been bubbling away under the surface for many years, as he had experienced emotional abuse at a young age. The only time he found where he could erode his low self esteem was time spent playing sport. Tim Gavel as MC called Rathbone the most prepared player he'd ever known as opposed to Steve Larkham, who was just as likely to leave one boot at home. Well Rathbone now reckons he always packs an extra for Larkham but the process of accepting, as well as making changes to get better and stop blaming himself for the injuries have led to a fitter, happier man who shares his story and experiences to help others. He now recognises that money, power, fame and celebrity count for nothing when you're depressed and depression doesn't discriminate; every experience is different and admitting you have a problem is the first step. Small steps will lead to change. Rathbone began with walking, then jogging, changing his diet for healthy food and good nutrition and he kept going. If you get to talk to Rathbone don't offer him a Freddo Frog, but do ask him what part they played in his depression, especially if you need to talk to someone. And if you know someone who seems to be depressed, take the risk and ask if you can help. The website of the ANU Centre for Mental Health Research is where their online self-help sites can offer a step into the future without depression.