This week's Mr. Perfect Blog is an interview with one of our Board's colleagues. Matthew is taking on an incredible challenge all in the name of mental health.
Matthew Mooney is an associate at law firm, Baker McKenzie in the Energy, Resources and Infrastructure team in Sydney. He has been at the firm since March 2015 and has competed at an elite level in the past, as a runner in his spare time.
Soon Matthew will undertake a significant challenge all in the name of a worthy cause.
Matthew explains: “Chances are that the black dog may have poked its ugly-looking head into to your life at some point in the past. Maybe it's lurking in the back garden right now. The unfortunate reality is that if it hasn’t stopped by yet, it may at some point. In Australia, depression is a disease that affects one in eight men and one in five women in their lifetimes. Many people deal with depression by bottling it up and trying to manage it within their own headspace. In fact, taking on the black dog solo is often a sure-fire way to increase the risk of depression going unrecognised and untreated.”
In order to raise awareness and to encourage people to have open conversation about what’s going on in their own headspaces, Matthew is going to join Ben for a short part of his epic bike ride of over 18,000km in six months for Jase, his brother, who sadly lost his battle with depression about two years ago.
Please do yourself a favour and check out their Facebook page to see their truly inspirational adventure thus far: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=ride%20for%20jase.
In Conversation with Matthew before he embarks on the ride
Q1. Tell us about what you are embarking on for charity and why?
In order to raise awareness and to encourage people to have open conversation about what’s going on in their own headspaces, I’m going to join the Woods’ on a small part of their amazing journey around Australia. Ben is riding his bike 18,000km in six months for Jase, his brother, who sadly lost his battle with depression about two years ago.
I’ll be tagging along for a couple of weeks from Exmouth to Perth. It’s about 1,250km of riding which I hope will be accompanied by a stiff and relentless tail wind. Additionally, and embarrassingly, I’ll be attempting to cultivate a Movember style moustache.
No one really knew what was really going on in Jase’s head until it was too late. He was the nicest, friendliest guy, always going out of his way to make people feel comfortable. If he had felt able to speak up about what was going on, or if someone had seen the signs earlier on, things might be different today. This ride is about letting people know that there are people out there like Jase and encouraging an open dialogue about mental health.
Q2. How successful has your preparation for the ride been?
At this point, preparation has been minimal. I’m a runner by trade so I’ve been doing plenty of that, but riding 200km a day is a different kettle of fish. A few weeks ago I had a mechanical riding home from work at midnight and ended up face first on the bitumen with a bus almost up my rear end. Bloodied and concussed, I made the informed decision to carry myself and the bike 4km home. Needless to say I was slightly traumatised by that experience and haven’t been able to go near my bike for a while. Although did manage to fix it over the weekend and have ridden to and from work this week. Baby steps at this stage.
Q3. What is your connection to the cause more broadly and have you always been passionate about this space?
I’ve dealt with mental health issues ever since I left school. For me depression and anxiety comes in waves of intensity, where one week I’ll be fine and then next I’ll battle to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I know why I’m depressed or anxious and at other times I don’t and they are worst times because I find myself even more anxious. My go to technique is to ignore the issue at hand and carry on like nothing is wrong but clearly this is unhelpful. What’s more is that people very close to me have had serious mental health issues. It’s only something I think I’ve become passionate about since gaining a greater understanding of my own issues.
Q4. Sounds like you keep pretty fit, what drives you?
Firstly, I like racing – running first and foremost and then anything I can get my hands on after that. Secondly, exercise is a form of relaxation where I can switch off from the real world and my mind is focused on running up the next hill or cycling to the next town rather than thinking about what emails I need to send, or Australia’s looming energy crisis.
Q5. How can people donate to your ride?
At the following link: https://rideforjase.gofundraise.com.au/page/MattMooney0.
Q6. How is the overall campaign going and where is Ben up to in his circumnavigating Australia?
Really well by all accounts. Despite a shaky start (Ben was hit by a car in Brisbane and had to get shoulder surgery), they are on track to make the six month deadline. I think they’ve just crossed the NT / WA state border. Their Facebook page is where you’ll find all the latest: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=ride%20for%20jase.
Q7. Who will be cheering you along in this endeavour and how can we encourage you from the sidelines?
Friends and family are getting right behind the cause. Especially my girlfriend Rachel who is my greatest supporter and my muse. Socials (Facebook and LinkedIn) are a great way to keep me honest, I’ve posted a few training / progress updates.