‘I regret to inform you that your loan application has been declined.’

BowThe above title is insufficient funds, but being delivered by a twenty-year-old.
So, before you start banging on to me about your renovations, mortgage or hedge fund, remember who you’re talking to, a 47-year-old, privileged white male who can’t get approval for, either a $5000 car loan, nor a credit card with a $1000 limit.

Our car is dying. It looks like it, smells like it and drives like it. It’s going downhill faster than what’s left of Tony Abbott’s morality. Our 2000 Toyota RAV4 was recently given a terminal prognosis by two experts. I trust them both, even the Russian one who doesn’t drink.

So, what do you do? Get another one of course. A small loan will do it. The car we’ve got only cost us $3,000 and did its job beautifully for three years. I like my vehicles as I like my friends, slightly damaged but fair dinkum. A few scratches and dents, not to mention upholstery more befitting the lounge of a young males’ share house, as it eliminates any concern about the vehicle being scratched, or dented, or, you get the drift.

The only problem is that no one (outside of an agency of questionable repute in Nigeria or one with interest rates more befitting those of a supermodel’s dating profile) will give us a loan.

I have a job, two actually. One is permanent, one is dependent on me being funny. One is paid as a salary and the other is paid when I work, which of late, is often. My wife, Lou, works too. She is also paid only when she works (what a bizarre concept). Her job requires that she is able to teach babies how to sleep, in the process saving the child’s parents from going completely fucking mental. Being in possession of this skill alone should automatically qualify her for a loan for whatever she damn well pleases, if not an annual nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. But alas, we can’t get a loan, not for a car, and not for a credit card with a $1000 limit, as we applied for a few months ago. Our jobs and our faultless credit ratings mean nothing in the eyes of archaically inflexible bureaucratic practices. We are ‘high risk – low return’ borrowers.

The problem apparently is that my second job and Lou’s first job could cease at any time so they can’t be counted against a loan application. I considered pointing out that my other job could also cease at any time, but was distracted by manic laughing, which I soon realised belonged to me as a result of hearing that I may soon have to live without a car, one which both Lou and I need to get to our respective jobs. All this on World Mental Health Day too.

Essentially, car salesman and loaning agencies don’t take putting babies to sleep seriously. Nor, do they take my employment as a comedian seriously, which funnily enough, neither do I, as that is the point of comedy. Still, it pays the bills, just not the loan repayment ones.

For a bigger laugh, Lou and I are considering going in to our local ANZ branch next week, piggy banks in hand, to apply for a home loan. Alternatively, to soothe our souls and convince ourselves of our value to society we may enter a new car showroom and pose in front of a vehicle with a bow tied around it. Then, we’ll post the photo to Facebook. We’ve seen other people do this and they seemed to do so willingly, if not eagerly, as if buying steel and plastic that rests on rubber provided them with some sort of capitalist validation, albeit one that I don’t understand. Still, they received heaps of ‘likes’ on Facebook.

Admittedly, Lou and I once did something similar, posing with our children in front of a real estate agent’s sold sign. Our social media ‘friends’ approved wholeheartedly. We felt like we’d been accepted to an exclusive club. People seemed more impressed when they ‘thought’ we had purchased a house than they did when we ‘really’ had a baby. The ‘likes’ were 3 to 1 in favour of the real estate agent’s sold sign.

soldI have nothing against consumerism or people who own stuff. I’m one of them, I’ve got four t-shirts, three pair of shoes (one pair were a gift), a pair of jeans, loads of tattoos, a frisbee and plenty of books. This isn’t about car salesman either. I firmly believe that people who aren’t quite dodgy enough to be in jail still deserve the opportunity of employment until they end up in jail. Nor do I have anything against real estate agents, some of my best friend are psychopaths in their 30s who still use hair gel. Banks and loan sharks aren’t the issue, I mean what else are society’s soulless meant to do with their lives?

Sadly, there is no one to blame but myself. I must accept full responsibility for our predicament. You see, had I devoted my more recent adulthood to acquiring assets, a real estate portfolio, unfulfilling yet lucrative employment and valuable possessions, instead of ensuring that I remained; sane enough to stay alive, capable of maintaining a happy family life and able to put some money aside each week for beer, I too could be the proud owner of a $5000 second hand car with dings all over it.

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The joys of shopping with children

Shopping with young children is as bad an emotional experience as you can have without requiring the assistance of sedatives and hospitalisation.

Apr_cheezelUsually, upon arriving at the shop entrance you must immediately return to the car to locate a dollar coin for your trolley, or worse, find a struggling, angry newsagent who will agree to change a $50 note for you.

The first ten seconds in the shop are usually okay. That is about how long it takes to push a trolley from the shop entrance to the avocados and is also about how long children will behave like civilised members of society. The furthest I’ve ever made it with children remaining in the trolley is to the potatoes. My goal for 2017 is to make it to the deli.

Unfortunately, there are no restraining devices on a trolley’s dual seat, otherwise I’d use them, tightly. I am tempted to let my children learn the hard way when they stand in the trolley. The prospect of compensation for any injury they might suffer is appealing. However, the store’s camera footage of me watching them tumble to the tiled floor with a smirk on my face would render any payment unlikely. So, as soon as the screeching starts I get them out. They can completely ruin the day of other people too.

In their oblivious wisdom, Woolies in conjunction with Jamie Oliver have come up with a clever initiative, that being, children can eat fruit for free while out shopping with Mum and Dad.

I wish this offer was designed to curtail the awful behaviour of children, thereby assisting in the mental wellbeing of parents, though sadly, I suspect it is simply to encourage children to eat fruit.

The Woolies gesture may have seemed a generous one if most of us hadn’t been feeding our kids fruit for free anyway.

Not only is the offer hollow, it provides no assistance to parents, because as soon as you’re out of the fresh produce section and into the remaining 24 isles of sugar-laden shite, that’s when the kids really kick off.

Apr_floorLast time our daughter was performing a screaming backspin in the dairy isle, on the cusp of breakdown, my wife said, ‘Fuck it, yoghurt’s got fruit in it, she can have one of them for free too.’

For me, the same applies to any food in the shop, including dog food. You do what you must to survive, criminal or otherwise. I cleanse my conscience by treating all grocery thefts as payment for having to scan my own items and pack my own bags.

Thanks to my children, I often remove more items from my trolley than I put in it. So, if you’ve ever wondered how on earth a 20-pack of Freddo Frogs got from a shelf on isle 4 to a shelf on isle 20, it was me.

Often, I’ll just give up trying to control my kids in a shop. If the opportunity presents itself, let’s say they’re staring greedily at Cheezels like the glutinous goons they are, I’ll do the bolt from them. Annoyingly, either the little brats find me or some dickhead good Samaritan will bring them to me, and then have the audacity to expect me to be grateful.

Apr_freddoOn a lucky day, I’ll hear the front manager announce, ‘We have a three-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy at the counter who are very upset. They are looking for their dad.’

This is what I call the Coles/Woolies free babysitting service. It allows me to fully relax, take my time and enjoy shopping in peace.

The checkout experience is always chaotic, but sometimes funny if one of your children gets coat-hangered by one of the silver railings while they’re chasing each other. Funny is funny. With half your groceries already on the conveyor belt is usually when you remember the eggs, which are conveniently located at the back of the shop. Contemplating the journey back with two children is when you begin to understand how Burke and Wills felt when they knew they were going to die.

The stress of wondering if the store’s security officer will grab you on the shoulder as you leave doesn’t help the checkout experience. Nor does your children disappearing outside the shop while you search in vain for your rewards card. At least my children always head directly to the bottle shop as they know that’s exactly where Dad will be going next.

The one joy I get from shopping is if when leaving I’m accosted by a charity mugger who claims to be raising awareness for mental illness. I candidly recount the previous 40 minutes of my life and they soon understand that I know all about mental illness.

And, don’t even get me started on taking children anywhere near a shop with toys in it. Suffice to say, should you ever want to know what your child will behave like should it develop an addiction later in life, simply take them into a toy shop and then refuse to buy them one.

Lastly, there’s nothing unsafe about leaving children in the car in an underground car park.

Best, Keith

Outings with toddlers are so much fun.

bluemountainsThe day the local anaesthetic didn’t work during my vasectomy procedure was my most torturous, until we recently went on a family outing during the school holidays. If you too wish to ensure a family outing provides you with as little enjoyment as possible, it will help if you do the following.

  1. Your memorable family outing should be attempted while sharing the company of a partner and two sickeningly recalcitrant toddlers, preferably aged one and three. Failing this, any children under five will suffice. If you don’t have access to children take anyone who makes you want to kill either them or yourself.
  2. Choose a popular tourist attraction to visit during holiday season – to ensure queues and crowds are at optimum levels – such as the Blue Mountains. This is particularly effective if you suffer from anxiety disorders that are triggered by queues and crowds.
  3. Before departure, check with the Bureau of Meteorology to make sure you go on a day where persistent torrential rain is expected.
  4. Travel on public transport. Unintentionally sit in a quiet carriage on a packed train for two hours and try to keep your toddlers quiet for even two minutes. Grimace as if you’re constipated when people who seem to hate your children only slightly more than you do, stare at you with utter disdain.
  5. Make sure one, if not both of the toddler’s shit themselves on the train trip. Try and clean up the mess in a tiny, rancid toilet that was last cleaned in the 20th century and appears to have been recently inhabited by a junky who left behind a festering needle for the kids to play with.
  6. Time the arrival at your destination to coincide with category-4 cyclonic weather.
  7. Spend fifteen minutes frantically looking for your wife’s bus pass only for her to find it in her pocket.
  8. Let your wife (or whoever is most geographically useless) ask for directions then follow him/her like an idiot in the rain for ten minutes until you realise the bus stop you need was only 50m from where he/she initially asked for directions.
  9. Arrive at your desired tourist detination – in this case the Three Sisters – when the weather has closed in so badly that visibility is the equivalent of being confined in a prison cell with a working smoke machine. (Think very carefully about using the poor visibility to sneak off on your family to find a pub to sit in for the day).
  10. Go to the cashier at Scenic World only to be told that tickets for the Skyway, Railway, Walkway and Cableway won’t be sold for two hours because there are too many visitors to cater for. Get a family member to curl up in the foetal position on the floor, suck a thumb and start crying until the cashier says, ‘Please get up, Sir, it appears there are tickets available for you immediately.’
  11. Spend half an hour queuing for the Scenic Railway first (the steepest in the world). Make sure you sit at the back of the ride so that when one of your children inevitably regurgitates their breakfast, lumps of it strike many more passengers than it would if you were sitting at the ride’s front.
  12. Join a 75-minute queue for the Skyway, avoiding eye contact with as many as possible of the 47 people your child’s vomit hit on the Scenic Railway. The Skyway traverses the magnificent gorge up to 270 metres above the ground. This you know only from reading the plaque as the cloud was so thick you might as well have been standing in an elevator.
  13. When ready for the return trip home (just before hypothermia sets in), stand smugly at the front of the bus queue, waiting for a bus that pulls up 15 minutes late and 50 metres away from where it is meant to. Everyone should run to it, leaving you standing, not so smugly at the bus stop in the rain.
  14. When the next bus arrives 25 minutes late, your children should be asleep in the pram and silent for the first time in ten hours. All going well you’ll get a bus driver who insists you collapse your pram before boarding. Explain to the driver you’d sooner set yourself on fire than wake your children.
  15. When this fails get your wife to communicate to the driver that collapsing the pram won’t make any difference to the available room on the bus because prams are generally larger than tanks these days. At this point the bus driver will tell your wife that she will be blamed for any passengers who can’t fit on the bus. Your wife will then tell the driver to go fuck himself and you’ll be forced to wait in the rain for the next bus that won’t arrive until 45-minutes later.
  16. Before eventually making your way to the train station for the two-hour journey home, sit your toddlers down and plead with both of them to spend the entire trip home acting as if they suffer from every condition ever recorded in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
  17. On the train journey home pretend you’re going to the toilet and stand in between carriages by yourself, hoping that the burning-rubber-train-smell kills you instantly. When it doesn’t, consider getting off the train at Mt Druitt where you’ll definitely be killed instantly.
  18. Catch a bus home that stops at the SCG. Here, passengers board who have been drinking and having a great time all day at the football. Feel the beginnings of a facial tic in the corner of one eye as you smile at them like a maniac.
  19. Arrive home, trip over on your son’s skateboard and ask your wife if she has the phone number for Lifeline.
  20. Realise that your vasectomy was performed three years later than it should have been.

Happy holidays.

Trump – a triumph for the male ego.

donald.jpgIn some way, we might all be a little bit responsible for Donald Trump. It could be that he’s just the clown holding up the mirror to the rest of us.

Trump will be the next president of the USA for the same reason that Eddie McGuire is already the president of the Collingwood Football Club, Nathan Tinkler got fat on coal and sporting clubs, Wayne Carey remains on our television screens, Clive Palmer was elected to federal parliament and Shane Warne now looks like a lesbian Thunderbird. Seduced by their overwhelming desire for attention and the startling hollowness of their gigantic egos we continue to empower them.

By we, I mean men, and women too. Mummy’s boys have proven to be almost as historically dangerous to families and societies throughout the world as those men who’ve lacked decent male role models. The fathers of women who voted for Trump have a lot to answer for.

That people are flabbergasted by the rise to power of a prehistorically vacuous and cruel alpha-male is most surprising. Bill Cosby would have liked his chances against Hillary Clinton.

Australians critical of America should remember they only recently elected a nationally acknowledged caveman in Tony Abbott to high office. Also that the deliberate and proud pig Mark Latham once came close too.

Australia’s parliament still contains enough sexists, racists and homophobes for a man like Trump to rub his tiny hands together in glee. Australians are in no position to be hurling rocks across the Pacific Ocean.

America may have great difficulty dealing with its damaged psychology, but so too does Australia. The pile of inhumane and abhorrent policies swept under the carpet of both nations continues to cause many people considerable harm.

Trump’s victory is a win for every man who has ever thought it their right to manhandle a woman. Make no mistake, there are men like him everywhere. Strip clubs and gymnasiums are full of them. As are nightclubs – these dangerous predators trawl dance-floors, often alone (a quick tip for ladies: if you ever meet a man in a nightclub or pub who is by himself, treat him the same way you would if you just caught him doing a shit in your toaster.) Our television screens are filled with men who have repeatedly proven themselves unfit to be in positions of public influence. These power-hungry, controlling cretins reside in offices, building sites and homes throughout the country.

Many of these men are charming and charismatic – two words beginning with the letter ‘C’ that I’m eternally grateful I’ve never been called. I’m yet to personally meet a charming and charismatic man whom I’d trust or believe solely on the basis of his charm or charisma. Almost all who encountered him swear that Ted Bundy was charming and charismatic. I’ll settle for decent.

Decent men don’t crave power. It comes to some of them naturally. The narcissists, sociopaths, badly damaged and grossly insecure are the ones that crave the false validation of power, then the opulence, violence and womanising that often accompanies it. It’s hard to understand let alone defeat a man who wants what you don’t want. It’s even harder to understand or defeat people who hate when you don’t hate.

Trump is what America and the world deserve. He’s not about left and right. People who continue to wholeheartedly align themselves with these so-called ‘teams’ are merely barrackers, as if politics is some sort of sport, though for nerds, albeit with more serious ramifications.

Strangely, no one I’ve spoken to recently has admitted they’d vote for Donald Trump (not even my American friends who were actually allowed to vote). Yet, plenty of people I’ve spoken to in my travels around the country recently are proudly; anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, racist, homophobic, self-interested and sexist. Reconciling that with a an apparent and belligerent disapproval of Trump is difficult. Still, perhaps once you can join those starkly misaligned dots, you’ll understand why the male ego in its most pathetic form has once again prevailed and why Donald Trump is the President-Elect of the United States of America.

 

RUOK? Of course I’m bloody not.

sjWhat do you reckon? I had to physically restrain myself from scratching every Range Rover I saw on Sunday, I ate dinner with the kids while dressed in a Mankini on Monday, we ran out of money for the tenth time this year on Tuesday and I nearly strangled this dullard who assumed I’d be interested in hearing about the house he won at auction on Wednesday. Mind you, had I known you could win a house at auction I might have gone along too.

How could anyone possibly be okay? The leader of our nation is Pearl Jam’s Nothing Man, the most pathetic and spineless cretin to ever hold this country’s highest office. He’s not even equipped with the intestinal fortitude to decide if he’s a homophobe or a coward. A leader? Malcolm Turnbull couldn’t lead Rolf Harris to a kids’ party.

But, I suppose politics is really only sport for nerds anyway, giving the geeks an opportunity to barrack and experience a full range of human emotions like most of us do when living vicariously through the footy.

So, actually, I guess I’m OK? Every day last week I told my wife and children how much I loved them. I went jogging four times, giggled childishly at a few cyclists and didn’t get drunk once (though by the bejesus I wanted to). No inbred told me that I wasn’t welcome in Australia, or that I couldn’t get married, nor did any dickhead throw a banana at me.

More importantly, on the RUOK front, I haven’t seriously contemplated topping myself for more than eight years now, though the option became suddenly appealing when this lady bored me witless about her Thermomix in June.

No one will ask me, ‘RUOK? today’, because they already know that I am (Mankini, mental medication, crankiness and occasional bouts of comatose drunkenness aside).

Would RUOK Day have made a difference to me eight years ago when I wasn’t OK? No, it wouldn’t have. My personal experiences and consequent understanding of mental health have taught me that the vast majority of people (men in particular) only get help when the pain and suffering becomes unbearable. Maybe we also need a CanU Help Me Day too, where people ask for help rather than offer it.

Sadly, the question RUOK – as important as it is – can be dismissed flippantly. A by-product of having been decidedly unhinged is that it’s given me an insight in to the mental well-being of others. I can think of at least three men (not including Cory Bernardi) who just aren’t right. I also know, if I was to ask them if they were OK today, they’d smile and lie. How do I know this? Because, directly and indirectly I ask them every time I see them. So maybe we need a backup question or statement to follow RUOK? Such as, ‘No, I don’t think you are.’ But, no one likes an intervention, least of all those who need one.

Today, I’m not going to ask anyone if they’re OK. RUOK Day might work for you but it doesn’t work for me.

I won’t attach myself to White Ribbon Day either. I do my bit at home and in my circle. Every honest Australian – man and woman – should acknowledge that there is a greater percentage of men who supposedly support White Ribbon Day and are then guilty of committing acts of family violence than there is a percentage of men who identify as Muslim who then commit acts of terrorism. Yet, it is constantly inferred, if not stated, that Muslims are the problem in Australia? Really? Codswallop. Sonia Kruger, Pauline Hanson and their ilk can go fuck themselves. Angry men are the problem the world over.

In 2009 I wrote about my lack of faith in Movember, the annual moustache growing contest and was widely pilloried. Whilst I don’t now feel the same way about everything I wrote back then as a sad and suicidal cynic, my reluctance to attach myself to popular causes has remained. Movember barely rated a mention last year. It’s pretty much finished, like moustaches should be.

RUOK Day is the flavour of the month now. What a competitive marketplace we live in and how sad, that like musicians, comedians and even bakeries, philanthropic causes can also be subject to the curious science of marketing, popularity, celebrity and trend.

RUOK Day is a terrific thing and must provide an enormous sense of pride to the family that created it. But, make no mistake, it’s only a start. It’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s not enough. The trenches lie beyond the superficial where mental health is concerned.

On the surface, raising awareness is valuable and makes us all feel good about ourselves, but resources are what are really needed. At my lowest ebb I finally sought help only to be told that unless I could afford to pay for one I’d have to wait six months to see a psychiatrist. That can be the reality of the available choices once the rubber wristbands have been put away for the year – money or death.

So, I hope you’re all OK today and that you’ll forgive me for not being an active participant, but I’m off to the pub with my mate Max. You’ll be glad to know that he’s OK too.

How to – defend Sonia Kruger and Eddie McGuire.

cougarUnless you’ve been living under an Aboriginal rock painting or an Islamic prayer rug for the past couple of days you’d know that Eddie McGuire and Sonia Kruger have been the Australian public’s most recent dual targets of hate and outrage.

In a near miracle (a Christian one of course) Mark Latham hadn’t even crawled out of his bile-laden Campbelltown cave and Dawn Fraser was still conducting the daily search for Easter eggs that she hid from herself in March when McGuire and Kruger started copping it.

McGuire is the Collingwood Football Club president and a ubiquitous radio and television show host. He is not, as he appears, a physical advertisement for poor health. Nor is he a racist or sexist as others have used flimsy evidence to assert.

Highly intelligent, McGuire even knows the correct answers to all the questions on Millionaire’s Hotseat so is clearly entitled to his enormous ego and the untouchable status he possesses.

Until yesterday, all I knew of Sonia Kruger was that she shared a first name with other females called Sonia and a surname with a South African national park, where coincidentally, none of the wildlife inhabitants are Muslim, which probably explains the lack of camels.

By lunchtime yesterday – thanks to that bastion of intellectual stimulation, commercial breakfast television – I also knew that Ms Kruger wanted to ban Muslims from entering Australia, primarily because she’s a mum who saw a dead baby on television (though it was apparently under a sheet, but we’ll not dwell on semantics and give her the benefit of the doubt.)

I don’t know about you, but if there’s one thing that makes me want to ban entire groups of people from entering Australia, it’s the very notion of a dead child. Kruger’s employers at Channel 9 know a thing or two about children too, having recently tried to kidnap a couple of them.

Kruger claimed she is scared and she has every right to be if the colossally inept NSW Police response to the Lindt Café siege is anything to go by.

I’m no fan of Islam, but I won’t say too much about that less one of the crazy bastards comes and blows me up, as they tend to do.

Nor am I big on any other religion for that matter. In fact, grownups with imaginary friends generally tend to frighten the shit out of me.

But, as sure as all Muslims are terrorists, we can safely assume (once I check with Kruger) that all Catholics are paedophiles, so it would be remiss of us not to ban them too. While we’re at it, Scientologists are dickheads, so we may as well add them to the list.

And why stop there? Americans and their penchant for shooting people would even concern an ISIS mother, so I’ll personally help Kruger and Pauline Hanson build a wall around Australia to keep those gun-toting yanks out.

Get rid of the Italians too, I say. Don’t tell me they’re not after world domination with all their concrete trying to kill off all the world’s trees so they can have all the oxygen for their big noses.

Japanese motorcycles kill more Australian men than terrorists could ever dream of and as a father I’m more terrified of motorbikes than I am of terrorists, so let’s keep them and the evil Japanese who make them out too.

We need to wake up people. It’s almost beyond belief that it’s taken Kruger, someone who we didn’t even know possessed the higher level thinking skills and expertise on such a complex issue to enlighten us. Just consider that for a moment. It took a woman from a reality dancing show on television to point out the bleeding obvious, that our babies are under threat. From Muslims and plenty more. I’m all for banning dingos too, just to be sure.

Collingwood President Eddie McGuire In Racial Row

And, how about poor old Eddie? He can’t pull a trick of late, no wonder he looks so fat and sad. As if he’s a proper racist. Who else in this country can honestly say they haven’t popped a few painkillers and immediately compared an Indigenous man to a fictitious gorilla?

McGuire’s not the problem, drugs are. Look what they do to swimmers. Grant Hackett took Stilnox and threw a grand piano at his wife and kids. What sort of drug makes someone do that? I wouldn’t mind betting Kruger had some aspirin before work on Monday morning .

Even I say silly things that are hugely out of character for me when I take drugs, so I know exactly how McGuire feels. Last time I took ecstasy I told fifteen people I loved them. Unheard of.

Some blame must be laid at the feet of mornings in general. You could be mistaken for thinking it’s the quality of commercial radio and television, but if you look closely you’ll see that McGuire, Kruger, Hanson and Fraser all broadcast their alleged bigotry early in the morning. Clearly it’s not a good time of day for many. I don’t even like getting out of bed when I need a wee before sunrise, which is why I keep a bedpan next to the bed.

They’re gutsier than me are McGuire and Kruger too. Whenever anyone asks me a question I don’t feel equipped to answer I just say, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know,’ like the coward I am.

Just in case you’re still not convinced of the undeniable decency of McGuire and Kruger, remember that between the two of them they are on the record as having Indigenous and Islamic friends.

That certainly trumps me. For I don’t have Indigenous friends, Islamic friends, gay friends or even Jewish friends for that matter, I only have friends.

How to – be mentally ill

grimaceNot everyone who suffers from depression shags their best mate’s wife, shoots an elephant, king-hits a stranger, drink drives or gropes women in night clubs, despite how mental illness is still portrayed.

Nor are all current or former footballers outstanding human beings. In fact, some you wouldn’t trust with your poodle, partner or pay cheque.

Anyone following the recent saga of former AFL stars and best mates, Garry Lyon and Billy Brownless could be mistaken for thinking that there is a new mental illness to be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, that of – being caught. Often, only when a misdemeanour of one form or another is exposed is the spectre of mental illness raised.

Sadly, or perhaps conveniently, this phenomenon seems to occur commonly among celebrities. Whether responsibility for this falls at the feet of spin doctors, journalists or sufferers, I don’t know. What I do know is that it gives the rest of us who do, or have suffered from mental illnesses a bad name. Depression isn’t a prerequisite for horizontally folk dancing with your best mate’s wife, notwithstanding that being caught might trigger it.

The sensational approach to coverage of mental illness reinforces outdated prejudices and encourages consumers of media to automatically associate mental illness with being a dickhead, crime and/or immorality. We’ve already been successfully schooled in playing a variation of this word association game over the past fifteen years with ‘Muslim’ and ‘terrorism’ now often viewed as being one and the same thing.

No matter how eagerly professional sporting organisations attach themselves to worthy causes, time and time again this year already we’ve seen that they are not fit to educate anyone about mental illness, sexism, alcohol abuse, racism, drugs, homophobia or anything much else, beyond throwing, catching and kicking. They excel at providing politically correct lip service and a ‘do as I say, not as I did’ behavioural model.

The reason we so often hear, ‘He was the last person I would have expected to do that,’ when told that someone, who was not Superman, has leapt from a tall building is because the vast majority of people who suffer from a mental illness, do so either in silence or very quietly.

If I were to tell people that throughout the course of my life I’ve suffered from major depression, a bipolar disorder, panic attacks, trichotillomania, bulimia, self-harming tendendies, suicidal thoughts, encopresis and anxiety, many wouldn’t even know what most of them were let alone that I’d experienced them.

Why would anyone volunteer such information when the perception of mental illness, whilst improving, often remains as that of a shoeless whacko talking gibberish to a rubbish bin (an audible version of Twitter)?

People were suspicious about AFL player Lance Franklin’s admittance of a mental illness last year. Would they have been so unkind about a cancer diagnosis or a nose transplant? He wasn’t caught destroying a grand piano, so the veracity of his mental illness was questioned. Just because something is invisible, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Garry Lyon lives in a bubble. I can’t imagine anything less real than television. I met Ita Buttrose on New Year’s Even while walking the dog and even she called it, ‘The Idiot Box.’ My actual experience of the medium – outside of watching it – is a three second appearance on the ABC program Country Wide while picking up acorns on a Canberra nature strip in 1978, so I’m not qualified to comment on the inner workings of the industry. But, unfortunately I have seen reality television so know that some spectacularly talentless and unhinged egomaniacs are given a platform to preach from. I’ve also seen egos run amok, remaining unchecked in football clubs, workplaces and comedy clubs, the stars surrounded by sycophants. Normal societal behavioural standards don’t apply to the talented. They think they can do anything. Often they try to.

Mental illness is separate to and different from that. It can afflict a television star, a stay-at-home parent, a war veteran or a public servant. It doesn’t discriminate.

In some ways you’re lucky if you have a mental illness as it can usually be treated. As yet, there is no known treatment for being an arsehole.

I’ve always thought that the more homophobes who have gay children the better. Now, I also believe that the more people who have a bout of mental illness the better. Nothing too serious – mental illness-lite perhaps – but enough for people to appreciate how terrifyingly awful and debilitating it is. And benefits usually come from treated mental illness. If nothing else, you’ll learn humility and empathy for others. I’m a better person having recovered from a lifelong battle only seven years ago.

So remember, not everyone who has a mental illness acts like a weirdo or does something stupid. If they did, Shane Warne would have all the excuses in the world.