Stop being so mental, you fucking idiot! – Anna Spargo-Ryan

Stop being so mental, you fucking idiot!

Stop being so mental, you fucking idiot!

I am having a mental health day today. Sort of. I’m working, but I’m on my couch and I have a blankie. Also, I have a sinus infection and my face feels like tiny men are trying to punch their way out of it. So I guess it’s part mental health day, part actual health day and part doing work anyway day. But I digress.

Do you know who probably needs a mental health day? Matthew Newton. I’m no psychologist, but I am someone who has her own mental health issues and all I see when I look at that guy is the saddest of sadness. I’ve read a great slog of articles today, particularly ones that talk about his violence against women, and they make me vomit in my mouth a little. Not because we shouldn’t feel the greatest empathy for the people he has hurt (and especially the women) but because they don’t help. Anyone. Especially not further women who may be hurt.

His actions are abhorrent. All of them. The way he has physically abused his partners. The way he has allegedly assaulted people he doesn’t even know. It’s dreadful. There is no excuse for it.

But whatever we – the public, the media, the people with the opinions – are saying about it is not helping. This is what it’s like:

MATTHEW NEWTON:
I don’t understand what’s going on in my brain.

PUBLIC:
It’s fucked, that’s what it is! You’re a nutbag! Everything you do is fucked!

MATTHEW NEWTON:
I’m overwhelmed and the world is frightening and I don’t know who to turn to.

PUBLIC:
Better not turn to us, you spoilt little rich boy! Oh no, my dad is Bert Newton and he has all the money in the world, my life is so hard! Wahh!

MATTHEW NEWTON:
You’re right, I am a fuck up, I don’t deserve to get help. Let’s go on a bender.

PUBLIC:
I can’t believe you went on a bender! Stop being so mental, you fucking idiot!

 The media runs his mugshot with headlines that include the words again and this time. It should be obvious just from their inclusion that this is a man who is not getting better, who is not improving, who needs more help than what he’s getting (if he is indeed getting any).

Do you know what he doesn’t need? Public scrutiny. Jesus Christ, if I had the media taking note of every time I let myself be overwhelmed by depression and anxiety, I would go off the rails too. Coping with this kind of illness is hard enough without someone telling you that you’re doing it wrong every week.

The media perpetuates this kind of illness. Depression and anxiety feed off perceived shortcomings. It’s terrific that we give the poor bastard even more reasons to feel depressed, but this is self-perpetuating. We yell and scream at him to be a better human being, but we only serve to fuel the fire of his despair. And then when, predictably, something else happens because he is falling further and further into the well of self hatred, we do it again. And again. And again.

Let’s look at how successful this has been as a strategy for helping those in the public eye to invest in themselves and become well(er) again:

  • Ben Cousins: the spectacle of his drug addiction, thug life stylings and baby mama sees him charged with drug possession as recently as last week. Yes, again.
  • Amy Winehouse: dead
  • Lindsay Lohan: missing presumed delirious with fear and mistrust
  • Heidi Pratt: disfigured and bankrupt (but seriously)

Having an expectation that celebrities who carry around mental health issues – whether pre-existing or as a result of their celebrity – should get their acts together while we observe and speculate is cruel. Recovery from these illnesses can be a gruelling, long and sometimes unsuccessful process, even when it’s not being done in the public eye.

Matthew Newton doesn’t owe us, the public, anything. He owes his former girlfriends and others who have suffered at his hand all the world’s apologies, forever, but he doesn’t owe us anything. We should not feel justified in crying out, “But he’s a psychotic moron!” and expecting that we will give him the push he needs to find people who will help him. That’s not how this works.

He doesn’t owe us anything. He owes himself all the time in the world to treat himself kindly and jump on the road to recovery in private, without scrutiny.

9 Comments
  • Tim

    April 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm Reply

    I still think a reality show where a hidden camera is strapped to Matthew Newton’s head which records his daily ramblings and general nut-bag like activities would be fascinating.

    That said, I would feel sorry for anyone who would have to edit that shit together to make a coherent and entertaining show.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm Reply

      Oh Tim, that is highly insensitive of you and only minutely funny ;)

  • Bron

    April 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm Reply

    Well said. The holier-than-thou bleatings is really pissing me off. This is no longer about Matthew Newton, this is about those preaching at him. Such perfect people.

  • Lara @ This Charming Mum

    April 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm Reply

    Hi Anna – long time lurker, first time poster here. The Public vs Matthew Newton according to A S-R is spot on. It’s gone way beyond a reasonable public interest story now. I have never understood the notion that celebrities ‘owe’ the public something. They dance, we watch, end of relationship really.

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm Reply

      Thanks for joining us Lara :D I completely agree, obviously. What a sad bunch of people we must be to think that we have any right to an opinion on the way someone else manages their mental health.

  • Lisa @ Giving Back Girl

    April 25, 2012 at 12:03 am Reply

    I feel it’s like we’re all watching a train wreck, waiting for the inevitable, there is no decency to look away and let the helpers do the helping. Hungry vultures – the press and those waiting and watching. It’s a hideous example of human nature. Well said Anna

    • Anna Spargo-Ryan

      April 25, 2012 at 9:53 am Reply

      Thanks Lisa. I know that many don’t agree with me, but as someone who has some idea of how it feels to be out of control, this type of activity can only make it worse, not better.

  • amber

    April 25, 2012 at 11:53 am Reply

    I’m glad you wrote this, Anna. I have considered on numerous occasions commenting on this media spectacle, but I don’t even know where to begin.

    I hate how we are all armchair psychiatrists when it comes to things like this. You know what else is absurd? Getting an actual medical practitioner to assess the situation in an article when he or she has never, ever met Matthew, let alone spoken to him, let alone spoken to him in a confidential, therapeutic situation. Those articles make me the angriest.

    As a sufferer of depression and anxiety, I prefer to think of “mental illness” as a physiological illness that manifests in a variety of symptoms, including psychological symptoms. People forget that the mind is an abstract concept and that the brain is actually attached to the body. Recovery is not simply a case of “pulling up your socks” or thinking happy thoughts. Just like a diabetic, an individual suffering from a “mental illness” will often need both chemical and lifestyle intervention to reach a new equilibrium. It’s not easy when your body lets you down.

    I don’t know Matthew. I can’t comment on his aggression or apparent episodes of “wigging out”. No, there is no excuse for harming another individual — female or otherwise. But I feel so sorry for him every time I see or hear his name dragged through another media outlet. Maybe the guy is incredibly FRUSTRATED, you know? Humiliated? Desperate?

    What happened to the principle of walking a mile in another’s shoes before you criticise? I wish the media would just shut up.

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