Bernard Tomic is not OK.
And last night wasn’t the first time he’s told us so.
On Tuesday night’s episode of I’m a Celebrity… Get me Out of Here! the 25-year-old professional tennis player said he’s never, in his whole life, “felt this bad”.
“I thought I’d be super happy, camping for the first time, being around new people… Half the time during the day, I’m just depressed,” he said.
“I’m not coping… I don’t know if I can do it. I’d like to speak to someone,” Tomic – widely dubbed as nothing more than a ‘tennis brat’ – divulged in a private piece to camera.
It was at this point, he made the decision to leave the program.
On Tuesday night’s episode of The Project, co-host of I’m a Celebrity, Julia Morris, was unable to hide her frustration towards Tomic, who she had warmed to during the first few days of the competition.
LISTEN: We discuss Bernard Tomic leaving ‘I’m a Celebrity’ on this week’s episode of Mamamia Out Loud.
Her perspective is, of course, justified.
Tomic is a young man who does not know how to lose.
Just weeks ago, Tomic lost his qualifying match for the Australian Open to Lorenzo Sonego, ranked 218. A man who, by all accounts, he should have defeated.
He later told reporters, “I just count money, that’s all I do. I count my millions.”
In 2017, after losing the first round of Wimbledon, the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament, Tomic reflected during the press conference, “I felt a little bored out there to be completely honest with you. You know, I tried at the end… but it was too late.”
Tomic, unequivocally, has become a figure very difficult to like.
It is almost as though he does not want us to like him.
— Will (@trillsingh) January 30, 2018
But what if we supposed for a moment that unlikeability is a symptom of unhappiness?
What if depression, for a great many people, does not look like tears and vulnerability, but rather anger and apathy?
What if his tendency towards profound self-sabotage is, in fact, a cry for help, from a man who does not know who he is without a racket in his right hand?
What if mental illness isn’t all that romantic – or easy to identify? What if it’s ugly? And grossly unappealing?
And what if – it’s just that – the unpleasantness of it all, which means sufferers are ultimately all alone, with the people who once cared about them left “furious”?
Tomic has, for years, served as a kind of optical illusion, showing us two duplicitous pictures at once.
And one of those images has always told us: This young man is not OK.
As a nation, we are in the midst of a mental health epidemic, with six men dying by suicide every day. It's double the national road toll.
"Why do they not tell us when they're struggling?" we ask. "Men need to speak up when they're in pain," we demand.
Yet when they do - we're reluctant to listen.
Within the story of Bernard Tomic is a lesson about what depression looks like.
And once we allow depression to include behaviours outside of tears and an inability to get out of bed, perhaps we can start treating sufferers with compassion - rather than unhelpful frustration.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.