Trigger Warning: This post discusses depression and bullying and suicide. Please proceed with caution if this is triggering for you.
The booing of Sydney Swans player, Adam Goodes has been talked about non – stop this pass week. Unfortunately, Goodes will not be joining the Swans to play against the Adelaide Crows this weekend. All the AFL (Australian Football League for those who aren’t in Australia), to their credit, have supported him and Richmond Tigers are even playing a game with an Aboriginal painting being displayed on their guernseys.
There is one issue that isn’t being discussed here, at least not enough… mental illness. Now, sure, Goodes may just need a week off to cool down, but there are doubts on whether he’ll play again. Regardless what side of the debate you’re on, whether you think or is a case of racism in which Goodes is a victim, or not no one can deny that, whether you agree with it or not, feelings are being hurt, regardless of what anyone thinks. Seems like Goodes has taken this very personally.
To be honest, for the past couple of days, I’ve ummed and aahed about whether I should comment on this the way I’m going to and what I’ve done this morning after consideration; I wonder if this even goes beyond the racism debate. Something tells me that this is beyond politics. I think what’s been missed here, at least until this morning on Sunrise, is mental health. Truth be told, no one accept Goodes knows why he can’t play Adelaide Crows in Sydney on the weekend except him. No one knows whether he’ll be mentally able to cope with the rest of the year or call an early retirement. This is what has been missing in the debate in the media and something that we should be mindful of.
It’s easy to say “just eat cement and harden up” or “it (booing/ bullying) always happens, Just get over it”, when you’re of a sound mind. But for those suffering mental illness, it can be more easily said than done. Look, Adam Goodes has been in the spotlight for the past two years, some would say, largely for all the wrong reasons. In 2013, he got fiercely criticised by News Corp Andrew Bolt for his reaction to the 13 – year – old girl who yelled a racial slur, who said, while he didn’t condone what she said, that he condemned the public shaming of her.
On the other hand, satirical comedian, Charlie Pickering, made a comment about on his show “The Weekly”, commenting on the irony of the critics, claiming their exposing what they deem is not there (which is racism. See the clip).
Yet, the debate is largely missing the mental health aspect. What impact has all this attention had on him? No one knows, but I don’t think people are giving it a lot of thought. But it may answer the question many critics are asking about why he doesn’t just suck it up. Maybe it’s because he CAN’T. Maybe this controversy was the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s like people talking about Charlotte Dawson about her battle with Twitter trolls and her tragic suicide in 2014. It’s easy to say that she just should have just turned off and not “fed” the trolls. Again, easy to say if you have a sound mind, probably that much difficult if you have, and have a history of severe depression as she had.
Mental illness aside at the moment, it’s maybe just that Goodes just personally takes issues like his racial background seriously and it does hurt him. Everyone has their own topic in which, if treated with disrespect, or seems to be, can get people upset. I know what mine is. Should we have a right to tell people what they should feel and when. Obviously, negativity surrounding his racial identity hurts Goodes (well, it seems to be), shouldn’t that just mean we stop and at least be considerate of his (and others’) feeling before reacting? Can’t we just show a bit of respect?