Em Rusciano: A comedian speaks candidly about depression.

Em Rusciano


Depression is a bitch.

It’s lonely, boring, dark and it hurts.

It’s one of those illnesses that when you’re first diagnosed those around you rally and offer support but after a while it becomes tedious and draining on everyone and those who initially rallied back away because it’s just too much to deal with. I liken it to a death, everyone feels sorry for you but expects a bounce back once the flowers have died.

I have battled with it for as long as I can remember. Battle is absolutely the right sentiment, there were some days my inner monologue resembled the closing scenes in Braveheart.

Right now, I’m okay. That is always a fluid statement though.

I know I probably seem like the last person you’d find weekly in the fetal position on the bathroom floor at 3am crying hysterically into a pile of towels so not to wake the children.

Well I am.

And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’d like to have a short chat about depression and suicide. (STOP. Do not avert your eyes! Press on, you can do it!)

Not sexy topics I know.

Uncomfortable for many.

Suicide rates in Australia are ridiculously high, especially among young men.

Too be honest I don’t give a shit if it makes the vast majority of people uncomfortable.

Enough is enough. I know people, high profile people who suffer from depression. I suspect every one of you reading this now have had it touch your life in some way yet for most people it’s still the big fat weeping elephant in the corner.

A young man killed himself last week in Prahran, I saw them covering his body on the tracks near the railway crossing. You didn’t hear about it because the media rarely report on suicides for a few different reasons. Firstly there are so many of them but also because there are fears it may spark copycats. Not to mention how distressing it is for the victims’ families.

Sometimes I think the media should report on it more often as I think most people would be shocked at just how prevalent it has become. Suicide rates in Australia are ridiculously high, especially among young men.


On December 6th, 2008 a man very dear to me killed himself. He was the most talented, kind-hearted, funny, humble and intelligent person in my life. He hid his depression from all of us, only those closest to him truly knew the depth of his pain. Ironically, Richard was a comedian. Having said that, I know quite a few male comedians and quite a few of them have battled with the black dog from time to time. Some call it the sad clown syndrome.

It was Richard’s funeral that made me realise I needed tackle my own demons. If it could overpower someone as amazing as him, what hope did I have?


This month, many men have grown mustaches to show their support for men’s health including male depression.

While I absolutely support the idea behind Movember I just worry the absurd moustache is in danger of distracting from the REAL ISSUE they are trying to bring awareness to.

I know a few blokes who have grown moustaches and when I enquired as to how I could donate I received a blank stare in response. They were just using Movember as an excuse to put porn star strips above their top lips because “everyone else was.”

Statistics show that men are hit harder by depression than women as they are less likely to talk about it. That’s why the suicide rates are vastly higher among men than women. Movember is an awesome idea, but it’s not enough. I know talking about depression and suicide is, well, depressing. It’s not ideal dinner party conversation but maybe it should be.

I just ask that the next time you see a young man looking disturbingly like Adolf Hitler or a young Tom Selleck, spare a thought for WHY they look so ridiculous and ask them how you can donate.

If you are feeling shithouse, so bad it hurts to get out of bed. TELL SOMEONE. Tell me if you need to, you’re not alone.

If this post brings up any issues for you, please contact:

beyondblue on their information line: 1300 22 46 36

Life line: 13 11 14

Mens Line Australia: 1300 78 99 78

Salvo Counselling Line: 1300 36 36 22

SANE Australia Helpline: 1800 18 SANE(7263)

Em Rusciano is the host of Mamamia Today on Austereo (which you should be tuning into at 3pm every weekday on the Today Network) and regularly appears on Network Ten’s ’The Project’. You should follow her on Twitter here and take a look at her website here. You can listen to podcasts of Mamamia today here.