Reuben Thorne reviews John Kirwan's Book 'All Blacks Don't C
14 January 2014
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Thank you to BUPA for donating the book to raise awareness about Mental Wellbeing with Older People and Health Professionals.
As a Rugby player who has played at international level, I found this book gave a very interesting insight to some of the pressures that many young sportspeople go through. Dealing with pressure, expectation, disappointment and self doubt is part of life for most people but these things are all exaggerated when put under the national spotlight. It is very hard to imagine how tough it must have been to deal with those pressures and a depressive mental illness at the same time.
This book gives an honest and open insight into the kind of thoughts and issues faced by someone with depression. However, the most enlightening and ( I believe ) useful part of the book is how JK openly discusses his path to 'wellness'. JK has obviously looked very long and hard into the reasons behind his depression, his place in the world and ultimately the things that really matter to him. Most people in his situation would not have the willingness or courage to open up like this.
I found throughout this book there were many thought provoking ideas and a good dose of plain common sense that would definitely benefit anyone facing depression but that would also benefit anyone facing a busy modern life. Things like ' taking time to appreciate the little things '
"I got up in the morning and I felt the shower. I enjoyed my coffee. I didn't worry about anything else but enjoying that moment"
learning to look after your physical health, nutrition, exercise etc and the importance of honest open communication especially with those dearest to you. It would be great if we could all be as self aware as JK has become through this process.
There are many nice contributions from some of the people who supported JK through this. From Mrs Kirwan Snr, Wife Fiorella, John Mayhew ( Doc ) and several All Blacks team mates who help give an insight to what they were seeing during this time and how they were able to help and support JK. The wisdom of his parents and the importance of a close family bond shines through as a lesson for all of us. Overall I found this a very interesting well written read that will benefit not only those who may be dealing with depression or know someone with depression, but It will also provide interesting food for thought for anyone dealing with the pressures of modern day life.
This book along with the TV commercials filmed by JK has already had a huge impact on those dealing with mental illness. Well done John Kirwan.
I enjoyed the book!
About Reuben Thorne
Canterbury - 1997~2007,2011 75 games
Crusaders - 1997~2008 129 games
All Blacks - 1999~2003, 2006~2007 50 tests
Yamaha Jubilo Top League - 2008~2010
Honda Heat Rugby - 2010~2011
Honda Heat Rugby technical adviser - 2011~
Involves coaching and training in Japan. Advising the Japanese players and management of the latest training methods and techniques from New Zealand.
Owner/Director - Kamomarsh Landscape Architects 2010~
A Christchurch based Landscape Architecture company involved in the design, planning and project management of a wide range of projects, from Subdivisions, Commercial developments, Parks and Reserves, Ecological Restoration Projects, Schools and Private Gardens.
Extra comments from the sideline by Liam Butler
All Blacks Don't Cry is described by John Kirwan as A Story of Hope. It is John's personal account of developing a depressive illness whilst being a young All Black, his futile attempt at toughing it out and quest to find the right professional to help him get his life back from the brink of disaster...
"Ground zero. For me that day arrived in August 1991. I had been away on tour with the All Blacks to Argentina. It was a long tour, and a terrible time for me. The anxiety attacks I'd been experiencing for several years had become constant and painful."
All Blacks Don't Cry is no ordinary book. It meets its meritorious objective to help save people from depression...
"I'd like my story to be like the strong arm that reaches over the side of the rescue boat and plucks you out of the sea"
Michael Jones, David Kirk, Doc Mayhew and JK's wise wife, Fiorella, provide insight into both their and JKs fears of this illness. Former Rugby World Cup winning All Black Captain and successful Businessman David Kirk reflects...
"Later, I felt upset that he hadn't told me what was really going on. I think it's easy to underestimate friends, and I think friends are disappointed when they haven't been giventhe opportunity to help. That's the point of friends."
Michael Jones, is one of the most popular men to ever wear the All Black Jersey. He and JK were mates and JK refers to the fact that Michael reassured him that "he had a good heart".
For people who have served with people with depression know that good intentions are not enough. What is needed is a carefully planned and closely monitored management of the illness. For All Back Doctor Doc Mayhew this meant working with JK to develop the confidence required to search and use the therapies that worked. The depressive experience made JK think more carefully about his life balance. An indication what he values is that he includes the following about what the Priest that prepared him and Fiorella for marriage...
"Then he told me, and I'll never forget it: ‘The problem with marriage is that people think it's the end, but it's the start. The day you stop working on the marriage is the day you will be at the beginning of the end. You'll be back in here look for a divorce."
The book concludes with and concise and precise Q & A with Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist Dr Elliot Bell which on its own is a very good resource. When the Q & A is combined with JK's frank, easy to read, pragmatic and hope filled story this book is a brilliant health promotion tool that saves lives.
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Draw closes 28th January 2014