Thursday, January 17, 2013

Twists and Turns

I just finished Matthew Mitcham's autobiography, Twists and Turns. He's the Australian diver who won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics with the highest scoring dive in Olympic history, which remains one of the most astounding pieces of physical activity I have ever seen. He was also the only out gay man at that Olympics, which is a delight: he's so bubbly and personable, yet still an amazing athlete (you hit the water at about 60kph from the 10m platform). A great role model.

The book is well enough written, it carries his voice strongly and articulately, which more than makes up for the naif style. Where it shines, though, is in its bruising honesty. This is a young man who was best in the world at what he did, a physically difficult discipline requiring hours of training every day, and who was nevertheless dogged by low self-esteem, depression and addiction.

As someone who is coming to terms with my own depression and self-esteem problems, now exacerbated by having had a stroke, Twists and Turns was as clear a message as you can get that the causes of depression are independent of the feelings of depression, and that unless you treat depression, you are screwed.

It's a great read for a number of reasons (including the big line spacing which made it easier for me), and I would recommend it to anyone interested in elite athleticism, Olympians, depression, addiction or the benefits of living an honest life.