SINCE WHEN DID MENTAL BREAKDOWNS & DRUG PROBLEMS BECOME SO FUNNY?

I’d like to think I have a reasonably good sense of humour. I find a lot of things funny, and I do believe in trying to see the funny in most situations but I think I must have missed the memo that went around to the world to say that Mental Health issues are an absolute side splitter.

Yes of course I’m talking about Charlie Sheen, and it’s been an issue that’s been building with me for awhile and now I’d like to start pointing my slightly chewed nail polished finger at everyone out there that doesn’t have the intelligence or empathy to realize this man is not funny anymore.

How atrociously irresponsible our news presenters have been of late. All snickering and making jokes about the latest Charlie Sheen rant. All people that should have more professionalism and integrity than to think drugs and mental breakdowns are under the banner of ‘light, funny news pieces’. I’m not so sure they’d be popping their children under such a banner if they had a full-blown drug habit, and were showing up all over town talking about aliens and being a rockstar from Mars.

Having worked in the media for some years, there are certain things that we, who have the honour as part of our jobs, to express our opinions, we must do it in a way that doesn’t insight hate, or that we’re seen to encourage suicide, or any sort of violence. However, in some sort of very odd grey area, we seem to be able to laugh on a daily basis at people suffering severe mental problems.

Closer to home, I actually felt quite sick when the news came on and there’s Brendan Fevola, fresh off the back of admitting he’s been having suicidal thoughts, and clearly plunging into a further pit of misery in his personal life, yet that doesn’t stop reporters following him to the airport and shoving microphones in his face. Surely this cannot be a proud moment in your career when you’re chasing a dangerously sick person and adding to their anxieties. Someone who admitted days earlier he wanted to die.

Everyone seems to think they have a right to judge whether in ‘his condition’ he should be going overseas, but we don’t know why he’s going, and how about the fact that he might be dragging himself out of his dark place in the hope of looking for career prospects?

You only had to look at poor Brendan’s face as he tried to make his way through the airport, and even stopped politely to have a photo with fans, that he is a very worn down, and he’s doing it really tough. He looked so lost, and I felt so sad.

Going back to Charlie Sheen for a second, I totally get that he’s got blokes all around the world doing a symbolic high five to the Two And A Half Men star, because he’s a ‘legend’. He’s a legend because they love the show, yes I get that. He’s a legend because there’s a blurred line between his character and how he leads his real life, which must appeal to men around the world that have fantasies of parties with porn stars, and getting messy with rock stars like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Boys will be boys; yes I see that’s all kind of cool, and kind of funny.

But is Charlie that far off the guy you see wondering around the city talking to himself and going through the bins? Is he funny and a legend too?

And yes he gives millions of people around the world a daily, wacky sound bite, which the media love, because they know you’ll love it. But networks and news presenters actually have a duty of care with the content that they put out there, and most certainly being seen to laugh at someone mentally ill, does not make any of them look clever.

In fact, if you ask me, I think it makes a laughing stock of them, not Mr Sheen.

AM I MISSING THE JOKE? HAVE YOUR SAY?

24 thoughts on “SINCE WHEN DID MENTAL BREAKDOWNS & DRUG PROBLEMS BECOME SO FUNNY?

  1. no, i don’t think you are missing the joke Amber, it is truly disgusting how the media make a laughing stock out of these people in crisis. Obviously Charlie Sheen and Brendan Fevola both have impaired judgment at the moment, whether it be through mental illness and/or drug and alcohol misuse. i am sure if they were actually aware of how they are being portrayed in the media they would be ashamed of their behaviour, but clearly they are demonstrating a total lack of insight and need assistance in getting themselves well again, not by public humiliation but by professional treatment.
    Unfortunately there are thousands of people who are suffering just like Sheen and Fevola,luckily they are not monopolizing our TV,but hopefully maintaining their dignity away from the media spotlight.

    • you know what tania, the world, although recently with Brendan thought it was a very Australian thing………has this real attitude of intolerance when it comes to people that ‘seemingly’ have it all – in regards to money and fame – that they can’t seem to understand why, because they have these things, that their could be a problem. I remember when I went on Sunrise to discuss my period of depression, and this awfully rude and judgmental guy says to me “So what are you here to talk about?” and I said “depression….Natalie Imbruglia has just admitted to struggling with it at times…” He says “Oh christ, what the hell has she got to be depressed about? She’s gorgeous and got plenty of money. Hangs with celebrities….how could she be depressed?” I just ignored him, and then it was his job to work the camera while I did my via satellite interview with Mel & Kochie. Of course he soon realised that I was there to talk about my own experience with it, and was VERY VERY sheepish. I hope he learnt something that day. Thanks for taking the time to comment.xx

    • I’m totally over it. I also kind of worry about people that are in the public eye that do something really DUMB, ie Ricky Nixon……I get he’s a twit and has some moral issues but when we hound and hound and hound these types, it worries me that it could push them to be suicidal…..

  2. no worries Amber, if only people would take the time out to learn about depression and the fact that it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that requires treatment, chemically and psychologically.
    Too many people don’t get treatment for Depression because of the stigma attached to the diagnosis, which is really sad, because severe cases of depression can end up in psychosis, homicide or suicide. I know that sounds extreme but it is a very real fact. I do hope that camera guy did learn something that day for himself as well as all the people that suffer from mental illness whether they be rich or famous.
    PS miss you on the radio. Cheers

    • Yes no wonder depression is still not admitted to enough because they must see mental illness as a broad banner, something that people are still mocking and perhaps they don’t want to associate themselves with a word that is being mentioned to say a Charlie Sheen issue. And as for Fevola, he just gets put under the ‘bad behaving footy player’ which is right to a point, but for gods sakes, aren’t people intelligent enough to see when it’s gone well beyond that?

      And thanks Tania. I’m hoping to be back on radio sometime soon. Fingers crossed.x

  3. Mental illness is a very serious issue as you know. People so easily say “just get on with it”. It’s almost like they don’t believe it’s there unless it’s manifested in some physical way – it’s hidden and behaviour doesn’t seem to count for some reason. In an age where we are supposed to be so educated and in tune with the social justice side of life, the media (most-but not you!)doesn’t seem to be a willing participant.

    • yes that “get on with it” line is very much our grandparents generation, and therefore our parents age probably say it as well. It’ll sadly be a generation or two away before that attitude is in the minority. x

  4. I agree with you Amber. The media should be using these sad experiences of celebs to actually educate society about the real problems that exist everywhere. I think many people still posess child like views that successful people are not affected by ‘every day’ problems. These 2 incidents clearly demonstrate that anyone can be affected by mental health issues and this could be an excellent opportunity to explore avenues that address ways to deal with and aid recovery from such issues.

  5. Sad to think it comes public when it involves celebrities. This involves only one minute segment of disability. The Fevolas of this world cannot adjust to life after fame, along with others swept up in the media spotlight,like the shiny Sheens. Is there a life afterwards? What can they do for the rest of their lives? They are lost, cannot come down from the dizzy heights, and the media that drove them upwards, revels in watching them fall.
    I knew a ballerina…international acclaim…taken out of school to the world stage, then dumped at 28, with no future. Commit suicide. That didn’t hit the press.

  6. Yes…much more awareness is needed for mental health issues..
    My son is disabled with ceberal palsy (paralysed on one side) & autism.
    As he is getting older …autism rears it’s ugly head much more now…with him having terrible violent episodes.
    I work from home as now I am too afraid to let him go to day care….as he just loses it so much.
    Any little thing can tip him and I am so afraid..
    I find that shop assistants lose their patience with him as he so slow and he can become so confused and dangerous when he lashes out.
    He is on so many drugs to manage this.

    • Oh my goodness Arnette!!!! That is just such a shockingly difficult situation for you and your poor son. Are yiu a single mum? I’m so sad for your son and you that people would lose their patience with him. Sadly there’s alot of ignorant people in the world. Thanks so much for sharing your story. Loads and loads of love to you and your beautiful son. Xxx

  7. Amber, I myself have suffered from and taken medication for depression for over 8 years and spent time in a hospital for it and know that sometimes we say things and behave in ways that are so very different from the “real” you that people would are surprised.That doesn’t mean they should be laughing at them or making jokes. I feel sorry for him because unlike me he has nobody who cares enough about him to step in and actually do something. I wouldn’t have gotten through the bad times without family and the very best of friends. The peoploe who are laughing should be ashamed!!! Donna B

    • I totally know what you mean Donna. I did, said and behaved in a way when I was depressed that is absolutely nothing like the real me. The right people forgive and understand you were in a bad place and the others you just have to remember don’t forgive you because they don’t want to. And I’m not big fans of people that can’t cut people some slack. X

  8. I think it is absolutely disgusting the way these Goverment’s just brush aside mental health.i have a daughter with mental health problems,and when she seeks help they just give her more medication and send her on her way.I really the that the Goverment ought to get of their arse and do something about this problem. Instead of traveling all over the country side waisting tax payers money on least important things.

    • I know Len, it is disgusting. The rate of suicide and depression is so high that it seems very very strange that alot more isn’t done. I would also like to know who makes all the money from anti depressants and what part of that goes to the government? I don’t really buy that they don’t realise how bad the situation is. I really don’t. I’m suspicious as hell about the whole thing. I realise there’s a whole lot of ignorant, judgemental people that lack education and empathy for the subject of mental illness, and depression. I also think there’s a generation that see ‘depression’ as in indulgent title because in ‘their day’ people really really suffered in silence. It wasn’t diagnosed and it was probably tougher times. But that’s why there was such a huge alcoholism issue, and why many people lived in very unhappy homes. We deserve to strive for a happier life these days. Perhaps people that have always been unhappy, or grew up with a depressed mum or dad etc get angry when this subject comes up because they just had to cop it and deal with it? I know that when this topic came up recently and dad caught me looking at the photo of the man that took his own life last weekend – and not because I was dwelling on it, but because I just stumbled acros it at that moment, dad went biserk and told me to get it off my screen. His reaction and the words he used about the whole subject were really really harsh. I shut my mouth as I have learnt to do because dad and I have very different idea of certain things, but then I thought about it later and realised that there’s no doubt that that image and subject would have hit a very raw nerve with him because his own mother took her own life. So, people’s reactions are always different. It’s the lazy, and the just plain ignorant one’s we need to change…….. Thanks for your letter Len.x

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