Sport Tennis Why Bernard Tomic deserves our support, not our ridicule
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Why Bernard Tomic deserves our support, not our ridicule

Bernard Tomic I'm A Celebrity
Tomic confides in fellow contestant Jackie Gillies. Photo: Getty
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Bernard Tomic has given his haters plenty of ammunition throughout his incident-filled career.

But the outpouring of venom and fury that followed his decision to quit reality television program I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! on Tuesday made for extremely sad reading.

“Jog on now bud,” former AFL champion Dane Swan posted on Twitter.

“I’m furious … he’s just a quitter,” I’m A Celebrity co-host Julia Morris said on Network Ten.

It seems that a dislike for Tomic is so ingrained in many that they would completely overlook the startling admissions he made about his mental health.

The 25-year-old, who said he had “never felt this bad”, confessed to being depressed at several stages during Tuesday’s program, adding: “I’m just not coping. It’s too risky.”

Speaking to fellow contestant Jackie Gillies, he said: “Half the time during the day, I’m just depressed … I don’t want to spend half my time depressed here, you know?”

“I’ve never really had time to think about my thoughts. I’ve always had people around, my mobile phone … everything was so fast-paced.

“Everything’s slowed down in the last few days.”

And once he had officially quit the jungle, Tomic added: “The more hours I spent in there, the more depressed I became.”

They are not throwaway lines.

You don’t go on national television and talk about being depressed if you aren’t.

Tomic actually deserves a lot of credit for being brave enough to talk about it.

His admission may make viewers feel more comfortable talking about issues of their own.

As a society, we are constantly encouraging each other to be proactive about mental health.

The tragic tales of those who took their lives without speaking up are sadly all too common.

But when Tomic made a decision in the best interests of his wellbeing, and pulled the pin on the show, Twitter sadly went into meltdown.

‘Tomic the Tank Engine’ once again proved he was a ‘flog’, they said.

What does that say about our supposed maturity surrounding mental health issues? A lot.

As a nation, we clearly have a long way to go.

After his confession with Gillies, which reduced her to tears, she made Tomic promise to get therapy.

It is clear the 25-year-old is still trying to find his place in the world.

He acknowledges he has made mistakes and said silly things, including a recent comment about “counting my millions” which he deeply regrets, but hoped that being on the program would help.

“By coming here it would make me a super happy person, I thought, and it would change me as soon as I got in,” he said.

That was not the case and Tomic’s mental state quickly deteriorated.

What was he meant to do?

Stick it out, to the detriment to his wellbeing, just to please viewers of a reality television show and Network Ten?

Laced through Tomic’s brief stint on the show were a range of confessions, including the fact he thought he had never enjoyed a real childhood.

Fame and fortune came to him too quickly, further complicating the maturing process.

He was contrite after deciding to leave the show, frequently apologising to fans for letting them down, but that it wasn’t healthy for him to continue.

Encouragingly, he also said appearing on the show had given him the “energy” and drive to return to playing tennis – just days after his career appeared at the crossroads.

But Tomic’s health, not his sporting future, is what is important right now.

He deserves all the time and space he needs to focus on that.

We should wish him well.

If you or someone you know is in need of crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp

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