Olympic gold medallist Matthew Mitcham was kind enough to take time out of his hectic schedule to be a part of our launch. As somebody who has conquered the dual diagnosis demons of mental health issues and substance abuse and gone on to do great things with his life, Matthew was a very appropriate celebrity to have here on the day.
When he was on his way to the Beijing Olympics, Matthew honestly thought the best he could hope for was a bronze medal. In hindsight, this turned out to be hilarious, as not only did Matthew go home with the gold for the men’s ten metre diving, he also performed the highest scoring dive in Olympic history (perfect tens across the board), and became the number one diver on the planet. This was a big shock to the Chinese divers, who up to that point had swept all the other diving events clean.
Things haven’t been all gold medals and glory, though. Matthew has struggled with clinical depression (he was diagnosed at 14), anxiety, self-esteem issues and episodes of self-harm. Medication helped, but the pills also had a numbing effect. This pain led Matthew to self-medicate with pot and party drugs (LSD, ecstasy, speed). Sometimes Matthew wouldn’t finish partying until 5 am on a Monday morning, and the only reason he stopped is because he had to start training an hour later!
For a time, the drugs were winning. Matthew dropped out of high school at 18, ditched his diving career and spent six solid months partying. Thankfully, Matthew found that he missed competing, and returned to the sport that has served to define much of his life.
After the high of the Beijing Olympics, Matthew experienced a sudden crash, and he began to use serious amounts of crystal meth. Like many of us with substance abuse issues, Matthew kept this part of his life hidden from his loved ones. After coming clean about his habit, Matthew was encouraged to seek professional help. In addition to dealing with his drug issues, Matthew has also worked on the core reason he used: his depression. He’s now been clean for years, and has a lot to look forward to.
As an Olympic career can only last so long (especially with the crippling injuries many divers will suffer), Matthew has more irons in the fire. For starters, during the Rio Olympics Matthew had his own television program, Buzz From Brazil, on Channel Seven. This show collected all the best (and funniest) Olympic material from all over the web – both from athletes and fans – such as videos and social media posts. Beyond that, Matthew is also hard at work studying linguistics at university. Hey, maybe we have another JRR Tolkien on our hands!
Matthew proved he can sing and dance, too, when he performed in the From Sydney With Love benefit concert for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. The show raised over $70,000 for the survivors and those who had lost loved ones.
Struggling with depression? You can always contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
You can get Matthew’s autobiography, Twists and Turns, from all good bookstores. It’s published by Harper Collins. You can get the eBook right here: