Hey, look, I don’t use this column to draw attention to my own work. This is a chronicle of the weekly whereabouts of the greatest hunk on the face of this goddamn planet. This is a sacred forum in which our official agenda is twofold: 1) The Rock; 2) The Rock. To the question ‘Any Other Business?’ the answer is always “No; now can we please get back to The Rock.” There is therefore simply no need for me to drag my sordid life into it. No Sir. No thank you. There’s just no call for it.
If I happen to spot a parallel between the life of Mr Dwayne The Rock Johnson and Mr Ralph Bennett Jones, it positively behoves me to mention it. Like finding a gold bar at the bottom of the ocean, I’d be insane not to declare it.
Two months to the day after he wrote on Instagram about his mother’s suicide attempt over 25 years ago, The Rock replied on Twitter to a man who thanked him for speaking openly about depression.
“Hey man I get it,” he said. “We all go thru the sludge and shit. Stay strong and make sure you’re talking to good people about it. Us men have a tendency to hold it in. No shame in getting help and wanting to be better.”
He followed this up the next day with a tweet to all 12.8 million of his followers, which said much the same thing. “Depression never discriminates,” he wrote.
These are reassuring words to hear, whether or not you are currently going through a similar ordeal. Last week I wrote for this very publication about a debilitating fixation I had with my skin in my late teens and early twenties. The ordeal had a significant effect on my mental health. In that piece I made the point that sincerely discussing our flaws is difficult, especially as young men – somewhat conditioned as we are to gild everything we say with a protective layer of irony. As The Rock says, men have a tendency to keep our feelings bottled up inside.
He said on April 2 that since he opened up about depression, he has got tons of responses, for which he is grateful. My clout is a little smaller than The Rock’s but, after writing my piece, I too was touched by the number of people who contacted me. The majority – but not all – were men who wanted to tell me that they had endured similar paranoid thoughts about their bodies. The point is that, had I never written the piece, they would never have shared something so intimate with me. The fact that they did contact me means a lot, just as the deluge of solidarity meant a great deal to The Rock.
Loath as I am to imply any parity between myself and People Magazine’s World’s Sexiest Man 2016, that is in fact the whole point here. These similarities do exist. Between all of us. Between a man worth hundreds of millions of pounds and a man worth £10,000. Separated by oceans, we can be united simply by the thoughts that keep us awake at night. If ever you are tempted to perceive depression as a form of weakness, remember that it came even for the man whom many would consider to be the ultimate personification of the word ‘strong’.
Stay hungry, stay humble.
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(Illustration: Dan Evans)