As has so often been said, depression has no face. Regardless of the symptoms we’ve been told to look out for, the behaviours or ways of acting, the fact remains that we can never truly know what someone is going through and when it comes to men, so many simply put on a mask, one where the exterior is happy, laughing, sinking beers and trading banter down at the local with mates. But with one in seven Australian men experiencing depression or anxiety or both in any year, depression is a conversation that needs to be addressed and even the Rock isn’t immune to it.
Though the actor is better known for his perpetually ripped physique and the kind of workouts that make you tremble just watching the breakdown on Instagram, Dwayne Johnson is now looking to open up the conversation about depression and has spoken out for the first time about seeking help. In an interview with People, the actor spoke about how he struggled with his mental health as a teenager, before learning that there’s nothing unmanly about being vulnerable and reaching out to others when you need help.
“The first time I had experienced depression, I was 18 years old, and I had no idea what depression was,” said The Rock. “Back then, depression was also called ‘get off the couch and get your shit together and change what’s happening here.’”
But after having difficulty expressing his emotions, Johnson realised he needed to seek help and support, acknowledging that some problems can’t be tackled by the individual alone. “I was an only child, and I was always a better listen than I was a communicator in terms of sharing my feelings,” said Johnson. “And I feel like the most important thing, obviously, is communicating and realising that asking for help when you’re down and you’re feeling wobbly or when you’re depressed is actually the most powerful thing you can do. Asking for help is not a weakness. As a matter of fact, asking for help is our superpower, and men, especially us, we fall into this trap of being really adverse to vulnerability, because we always want to be strong and feel like we can take on the world.”
As Johnson told his fans, “The truth is, you have to, and hopefully over time, learn to embrace vulnerability and learn to embrace this idea that you can’t always solve everything. A lot of times in life, as you head down the road, you’re going to need help, and it’s all a part of life.”
It’s a powerful reminder from Johnson and one we can only hope more people take to heart. Amidst the uncertainty of the global pandemic and the changes wrought by lockdown, we need to be more open about discussing mental health, depression and not be afraid of vulnerability. No-one should have to suffer in silence.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) or Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).