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WITH EDDIE PERFECT, SATURDAYNIGHTCRACK-UP
“EVERY couple of years I tend to get very depressed – but I don’t think it’s as bad as other people get depressed.
I’m pretty hard on myself and I guess that’s all tied to my work, so if work’s not going too well for me, or I don’t have a project I feel passionate about, or I feel like I’m treading water, I tend to get really down. And also being a parent of young kids can get on top of you. So I did what most people do in their mid to late-30s: I started trying to get fitter and stronger.
It has really made a difference in my life because now I’m physically strong enough to throw my kids around and throw myself through a day. If I go early in the morning I’ve got a jump-start on everyone in the day and I mentally feel in control. I don’t think there’d be a person who hasn’t had that (mental health issues) touch somebody close to them – and usually it’s really difficult to deal with.
Last year, the ABC came to me and said they wanted to do a week of mental health programs and a live two-hour variety show on the final night. I don’t know what I was thinking but I said yes. (But) how are you supposed to write a funny, satirical song about mental health? I was really caught up on it. I just don’t know where the lines are, I don’t know how irreverent I can be. It’s really scary.
(Then, one day, producer) Anthony Watt said it is about a lot of things, but one of those things is suicide prevention, and I got the idea straight away. I’m going to write Don’t Kill Yourself [which comically makes the point you’ll miss out on Game of Thrones] – that’s going to be my song. Of course, everybody at the ABC freaked out. I made a demo and it went around a million meetings. It was a big kind of risk but the great thing was (mental health expert) Patrick McGorry was really on board with it. He doesn’t like the tip-toeing that goes on around suicide and wants it brought out into the open.
Everything up to (the broadcast) was scary and stressful, but at the actual event I had the best time. At one point the producers said, ‘We’ve got to fill some time otherwise we’ll end short’, so I started talking to Michala Banas ( Upper Middle Bogan) and Rob Mills ( Australian Idol) and they started candidly talking about the experiences they’d had with depression and anxiety. It was really honest and I was in awe.
Even five years ago I don’t think that would have happened, experiencing mental health for some reason was a shameful thing you needed to cover up. Amazing things like that happened, so when they asked if I’d like to do it again I was like, ‘Yeah’ – even though I’d freaked out last time and aged five years. Now we know it works, we just want to make it bigger and better.” SATURDAY NIGHT CRACK-UP SATURDAY, 7.30PM, ABC