10 QUESTIONS WITH: CRAIG HAMILTON
July 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm
He is one of the region’s most respected sport reporters, but more recently he has become a mental health advocate.
Craig Hamilton delved into his darkest days and experiences living with Bipolar in his first book ‘Broken Open’.
Now 8 years on he has taken to the page again, detailing how he copes with the illness.
Craig will launch the new book, ‘A Better Life’ in Newcastle tomorrow (4 July), a place he says has helped him in his journey.
1. You wrote a book a few years ago talking about your illness and breakdown, why have you written a second book, and how does it differ?
This book “A Better Life” tracks the past 8 years since Broken Open was released. The first book really dealt with experience of depression and Bipolar in detail and this book offers more insight into living a good balanced life , the lifestyle I have adopted, the alternative therapies explored and the importance of a good work/life balance. All these things contribute to living a healthy, happy and productive life while dealing with a mental illness.
2. Do you think coming out so publicly about your illness has helped others with a public profile tell their stories, say, people like Andrew Johns?
I’m not sure if that’s the case. There have been a number of high profile people who have battled depression over the years , some have gone public others haven’t , with Andrew , he really first revealed his battle with depression and bipolar on the Footy Show. His decision has helped many.
3. What was your first reaction when doctors diagnosed you with bipolar disorder?
I thought they were wrong. I didn’t believe I could possibly have a mental illness and certainly not Bipolar. It took a number of months after being diagnosed for me to accept it.
4. How does it currently affect your life?
I just have to be more self aware, watch my energy levels , make sure I get plenty of sleep , eat well and make sure there are times when I just kick back and do nothing. It’s about leading a balanced life. I have still experienced some highs and some lows in the past 8 years and have been hospitalized twice in that time with mania on both occasions. It is a on-going process. Medication to help level out the moods and remain stable is also very important.
5. You describe an incident at Parramatta Stadium in September 2010. What happend?
I had just taken my eye off the ball so to speak in the weeks leading up to that game. I’d worked to hard, not relaxed , had a poor diet and had a disrupted sleep pattern. These things are warning signs. I ignored them. After Parramatta’s match that night I couldn’t sleep and by 2am was manic. I ended up walking the streets of Sydney half naked thinking I was St Francis of Assisi .
6. How important is it to get awareness of mental health out there? Especially amongst men?
Very important in my view. We are resilient but that resilience can come at the expense of our health. Men also generally don’t feel comfortable talking about this stuff.The stigma around mental health issues needs to be broken down as it serves no good purpose and prevents many people from getting the help they need.
6. How has the Newcastle community helped you in your journey?
Absolutely outstanding. Newcastle is a wonderful city and there are many great people here and plenty who have helped me along the way.
7. You can afford drugs to treat your illness, but what is the plight of those who can’t and what needs to change?
That is a huge issue. I am very fortunate to be able to afford medication that helps to keep me well. Many can’t. If we as a community want to really help people with diagnosed mental health problems we need to make medicine more available to them at an affordable price.
8. Does writing books and talking to large groups of people about mental health help you deal with your illness?
I didn’t realise until a few years ago how helpful writing about my experiences has helped. By getting it out there it has assisted me to move through the experience and begin to heal. Both books have been written to help other people and their families but they have also been written to help me.
9. Sports broadcaster or author?
10. We can’t let you go without naming your favourite moment as a sports broadcaster. What is it?
A. Easy , Darren Albert’s try for the Knights in ‘97 grand final win over Manly. Simply an amazing moment.
Craig Hamilton is the author of A BETTER LIFE, published by Inspired Living, RRP $24.99, out now.
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