lifestyle

Buddy Franklin is ready to return to AFL, and we want to say thanks.

Update…

After a three month absence from the AFL Buddy Franklin has addressed the media to discuss his break, saying that he was glad he took the time off when he needed it but that he’s eager to return to the game.

Franklin – who missed the Swans’ finals campaign to deal with a mental health issue – thanked his fiancé Jesinta Campbell, his family, friends and the club for their support.

Franklin at the press conference.

While Franklin said that having the issue played out in the public eye was “extremely tough”, asking for some time out was the right decision.

“The best thing that I’ve done is put my hand up and get the help that I needed and that’s the biggest thing for anyone to do, to put your hand up and go ‘I need the help’,” he said.

“If you are struggling, I definitely recommend it. Just ask for that help because it will change your life, definitely.”

The Sydney Swans player will return to pre-season training with the club today, saying that he is looking forward to resuming training with his teammates again.

“I’m feeling good – it’s been a really hard three months for me,” Franklin said. “But I’m feeling healthy, happy and I just got back from a nice overseas holiday.”

At the weekend, Franklin’s fiancee spoke about the challenges of dealing with Buddy’s condition in the glare of the media.

“There have been a lot of times that I’ve had my full hair and make-up done and I’ve had to go and get it touched up because I’ve been in tears on the way to work,”  she told the Sun Herald.

“This is something that has required a lot of privacy and, unfortunately, we haven’t really been granted that. I think, looking back on it, yes, it has hindered his recovery and his well-being, and my well-being too, and it’s just really sad that we weren’t given the respect that was needed for it.”

Previously, Bianca Dye wrote… 

It is perfectly acceptable to say – I am not okay.

There is a tattoo blazoned across Lance “Buddy” Franklin’s ribcage that says, “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts,” and I can imagine what those thoughts would be for him right now.

buddy franklin mental health
Lance Franklin, Number 23 for the Sydney Swans (Image: Getty/AFL media)
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When I was at the height of my game like Buddy is, there is NO way I would have been brave enough to tell the world that I had to step down due to mental health issues.

Even saying I was at the height of my game makes me sound like a huge wanker. I’m not comparing myself to an elite athlete, but in my field of radio I’ve been the best .

At the time I was surrounded by people who reminded me that if I told the truth about why I had to take time out, like Buddy is doing, that people would think I was “crazy” and incapable of doing my job, that I would “isolate” myself.

Looking back on those scary days, and being the proud Mental Health Australia  Ambassador that I am today, ten years later, I really wish I had been more honest back when I was diagnosed with my mental ill health of a Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Buddy Franklin (Image: Instagram)

I was forced – like Buddy – to step down from a public position hosting a radio show and “take a little holiday” to a health retreat. I was petrified of people and my peers found out that I had suffered a panic attack that had lasted something like seven days, and that I had to be put on anxiety medication to help calm my beating chest and stop my hands from shaking.

High functioning, maybe I can even say OVER-functioning humans, quite often share a trait of OCD and/or anxiety. The constant butterflies in our tummies that are there from the minute we wake up until the minute we ‘try’ to sleep, are often what drives us. We need to DO DO DO. We need to achieve.

We MUST be awesome at all times, at any cost. We must be BUSY! We must be the BEST! Because if we’re not we might have to stop. Ask anyone who suffers from GAD, what happens when they stop and you will understand the fear.

The irrational terror is impossible to describe. Often there IS no real reason for your perceived ‘crazy’ feelings, your racing heart and your over-active brain. It just IS. And it’s almost impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t suffered from depression or anxiety.

Which is why it’s so cool that so many celebrities and high profile – high performing – successful people are coming out, and saying, “Yep. I have it too, it’s ok. You are NOT alone.”

Knowing you are not alone is one of the most comforting and reassuring feelings you can have when you realise that you (like one in four Australians) have mental health issues.

Bianca with MM’s own Mia Freedman (image supplied)

I have an Instagram page that I started last year that I am so proud of. I started it because I realised that so many celebrities and people in public positions were bullshitting to their fans on a daily basis, living this lie of a perfect life where panic attacks don’t happen and life is one big perfect round beach towel. #Sunsets and parties, and selfie perfection. It’s not relatable because it’s not real.

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Amanda Seyfried often needs to drink alcohol to calm her anxiety before a live TV talk show. My old friend Ruby Rose gets terrible depression some days. Singer Demi Lovato speaks about her bipolar and how she is managing it. Amy Poehler admits to bouts of social anxiety that have “got worse over the years”. When I read that, I felt awesome. “Oh thank GOD, my favourite comedian in the whole world feels how I do when I walk into a crowded room! I feel so much better now.”

Yes, me. I speak for a living. I hosted tropfest for years in front of a live 150,000 strong crowd. I do live TV where I have no scripts. I’ve been in radio for 20 years and do most of what I do LIVE. No safety net for me!

I get anxiety talking in public, and when I share that sort of stuff, people are relieved. It’s clear that I’m not perfect and people like that. And this is why Buddy sharing this is so powerful.

No more keeping secrets. He must feel so relieved – no doubt terrified too – but relieved.

Most of Buddy’s mates had no idea he felt this way. That’s because when you come out and say, “Hey I have depression and anxiety,” some people see that as a weakness. But admitting that you do what you do, AND you struggle daily with mental ill health actually makes you a lot tougher than the masses.

It’s the tough silent battles of people all around this great country of ours that are the ones that make this so important. It needs to be discussed.

The fact that Buddy has pressed pause, at what must be a hugely stressful time for him leading into finals this weekend, is bloody awesome.

By doing something that is no doubt terrifying, Buddy is saying – IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK. And as it’s R U OK Day tomorrow, I guess it’s perfect timing to remind ourselves, and those around us, that we are not machines. We are not robots that have to ‘push through’ and ‘man-up’ just so no-one sees us crack.

Times are changing – thank GOD! Finally we are getting to a place where we can say, I AM NOT OK.

And Buddy, it is so, so fine that you are not. Yes on the field you are a beast of a human. You are truly untouchable, but you are also just a soft kid that needs to know you are cared about for more than just your wins on the field. No doubt the divinely caring, compassionate nature of your beautiful fiancé, Jesinta, has helped you realise that you are loved no matter what. No-one is going to judge you for having the balls to say, “Hey, I need to address this.”

Buddy and Jesinta (Image: Instagram)

To anyone who says ‘man-up’ or ‘but what does he have to be sad about’ (I used to work with people who still think and talk like that), please do your research. Mental illness is usually a chemical imbalance. If your teenage son got the flu or broke his leg would you suggest ‘man=up mate’?

No. You wouldn’t.

Buddy – we are all here for you. We recognise that as the ‘bulletproof’ hero of our AFL fields this must be hard. But you are paving the way for more brave young men to be able to say, “Hey – I’m not OK right now. And THAT’S OK.”

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