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Ruby Rose: "I am still losing my battle with depression."

Ruby Rose

By ROSIE WATERLAND

Move over Astro Boy, Sailor Moon, Alex Mac, Chris Lilley, Tina Fey and Lena Dunham (in that order) – I have a new hero, and her name is Ruby Rose.

On Sunday, Rose tweeted her fans the following:

That Rose is depressed enough to feel that she needs to take time out in order to get better is a terrible state to be in and, obviously, I wish her all the very best.

But I would like to bring attention to the tweets. The AMAZING FREAKING TWEETS. I feel like that little picture doesn’t do them justice because what Rose did is a HUGE deal.

She admitted she’s depressed and that she’s taking time out to get the help she needs.

I know, I know. When I squeeze it into that one sentence it doesn’t seem like much. And considering Rose has been open about her mental health issues in the past and is even an ambassador for the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Headspace, it’s not like she’s let a massive cat out of the bag.

But still, I thought the tweets were a big deal. Why? Well, basically, because they didn’t seem like such a big deal – and that’s a big deal.

My new hero.

Stick with me.

Rose admitted she’s depressed and that she’s taking time out to get the help she needs. That’s. It. The reaction from her followers and the media was wholly positive, which she was thankful for, and I assume she’s now doing whatever it is she needs to do in order to get back to feeling like herself. Just like if she had a cold. Or a broken leg.

Just the way it should be with any illness.

As someone who has dealt with her own mental health issues, seeing somebody with a high profile like Rose treat her depression like it’s the same as any other kind of illness makes me feel like it’s okay to do the same. But more importantly, it makes me feel like she’s showing those without mental health issues that they are legitimate conditions that require treatment and care like any other.

You’d be surprised at how hard it is to find people who think that way.

My late teens and early twenties were overshadowed by my mental illness, and I lost jobs, friends, boyfriends and even some family because of it.

I had what’s known as Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s very similar to PTSD – the main difference being it develops over a long period of stress (in my case, a turbulent childhood) rather than a more condensed single traumatic event (like a war battle or a car accident).

One of the main symptoms is an inability to regulate one’s emotions, so an upset that would be a seven or eight on the scale for an emotionally healthy person was like a 500 for me. Getting a bad grade would give me a panic attack. One boyfriend broke up with me and I ended up in a psychiatric ward for three weeks. And being unable to control your emotional state is pretty damn confusing, so not only would I be feeling the immense pain of whatever the latest upset was, I would also be feeling terrified and frustrated with myself for being unable to control how my body and mind reacted.

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My life slowed down as I struggled to deal with my mental health – I finished uni at 25 instead of 20 and avoided certain jobs and relationships because I had no confidence in my ability to live like a ‘normal’ person. I was often suicidal, sometimes daily. I self-harmed and, as I’ve written about previously, developed a binge-eating disorder as a coping mechanism.

It was a tough time.

But you know what always made me feel worse than any panic attack or depressive episode or mood-swing I ever had? The awful way some people treated me because of it. There’s nothing worse than knowing some people just don’t believe that what you’re going through is completely out of your control. That you can’t just ‘pull yourself out of it’ or ‘go for a nice walk’. There’s nothing worse than having to pretend you have a cold because ‘I can’t leave my bedroom, let alone a catch a bus’ doesn’t really cut it. There’s nothing worse than having to convince someone that you’re not just throwing some kind of bizarre hissy fit; you’re having a panic attack.

Taking time out.

Not many people stuck by me. Which was upsetting at the time, but with growth and maturity, I can look back and see that those who seemed to lack empathy were mostly those who simply lacked understanding.

That realisation led to me being able to take ownership of my illness and not be ashamed to speak up about it. It can be hard though, and I’m probably still more prone to saying that I have a cold rather than admitting I’m depressed or anxious.

Which is why my heart skips a little every time I see someone intelligent and accomplished like Ruby Rose admitting what’s ACTUALLY wrong, and not just what she thinks will be the easiest thing to explain.

When high profile people like Rose (see also the fabulous Jessica Rowe) are willing to be open and honest about what they’re going through, it opens the door for us mere mortals to do the same.

After all, celebrities are in a unique position when it comes to effecting change. Their influence often trickles down much further than we realise (how else do you explain harem pants?), so any time they use that influence for good, it should be encouraged.

But especially when it comes to mental health. And since 1 in 5 people in Australia will experience a mental illness every year, this is a topic that desperately needs more understanding from the wider community. Because in my experience, those 1 in 5 people will probably worry more about being honest about their illness than they will about the illness itself, and that’s a fear that’s got to change. We’re scared of getting the flu because being sick is the worst; not because we’re ashamed of telling our friends we’ve got it. Why should mental health be any different?

So that’s why Ruby Rose is my new hero. Not only is she battling depression (which takes a hero anyway), but she told her fans in the same way a singer would admit to having, say, a throat infection: it sucks, but I’m taking some time and hopefully I’ll be back on my feet soon.

She treated her depression just like any other illness. She tweeted about it like it was no big deal – hopefully one day it won’t be.

If this post brings up issues for you, or you just need someone to talk to, please call Lifeline on 131 114. You can also visit the Lifeline website here and the Beyond Blue website here.

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