AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Combat sports and wrestling announcer Mauro Ranallo, and his lifelong battle with mental illness are the subject of a new Showtime Sports documentary titled "Bipolar Rock N' Roller". The title comes from the name Ranallo gave himself as a wrestling announcer and DJ back in the early 1990's. The documentary will premiere on Showtime during Mental Health Awareness Month this Friday at 9:00 pm ET/PT.
Some of the footage you will see in the documentary is raw, visceral, and disturbing. It comes from Ranallo giving his best friend, Haris Usanovic, permission to film him at his lowest and highest points, during some episodes of the illness that are physically and emotionally hard to watch. But they are necessary to watch to understand the depths of the illness Ranallo has, how remarkable what Mauro Ranallo has accomplished is, and the true nature of the battle he faces daily. Friday's documentary also features interviews with friends and family members to further tell the story.
Ranallo has said about this documentary: "The idea is simply to show others who suffer that they are not alone and that, even when the outlook is bleak, you can overcome and achieve success. Mental illness is a life sentence—there is no cure— but it doesn't have to be a death sentence."
The battle Ranallo faces is not unique....far from it.
Here are some numbers from the National Institute on Mental Illness:
1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%— experiences mental illness in a given year.
1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.
6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.
18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.
Unlike what some would prefer, what this documentary features can't be entirely divorced from the JBL-Vince McMahon-Mauro Ranallo situation of last year. It isn't entirely, as footage from WrestleMania 34 weekend in New Orleans is a part of the documentary.
It's obvious that neither John Layfield or Vince McMahon caused Mauro Ranallo's illness. No one suggests that. As Ranallo has made clear, his illness pre-dates any of that by many years. But the thought that John Layfield, Vince McMahon and others involved (despite what any statement in a legal settlement says notwithstanding) in Ranallo's well- reported upon workplace bullying all played a major part in causing Ranallo's most recent breakdown. What took place caused pain for someone they KNEW was going through what he has to every day, and makes me feel there is a special place in the lowest level of Hell for anyone who was involved in it.
People have committed suicide for far... far less. If WWE thinks they've had problems with the Saudi Arabia deal... what could have resulted had Mauro Ranallo not had the support system he did... might have been much, much worse.
In a recent interview promoting the documentary for MMAJunkie.com, Ranallo said the following:
“How many millions of people who suffer with what I do never get the #%&%@#$ chance and because of it have to kill themselves – because someone wouldn’t listen, Ranallo said.... “All I want is to be heard. Just listen. You can save a life. You don’t have to spend a cent. You don’t have to spend a cent – but we need money, we need resources from the government and the medical (industry).
Why can’t we talk about mental health, which impacts all of us? I cannot believe that still, even today, I have family: ‘When is he going to be OK? Does he look for attention like this all the time? Doesn’t he get enough attention being on TV?’ You think I do this for attention? Wow. I put myself
out there because I want to save a life because I’ve lost too many [people I know”].
As a society, we treat mental illness in an entirely different manner than we treat physical illness. If someone
has a broken arm, they get it X-rayed and a cast put on it. If someone has cancer, they are treated with some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to try to save their life. If someone has an allergy, they take medication, or avoid the item they are allergic to as much as possible (or in some cases, avoid it completely). But no one thinks twice about it.
But if someone is dealing with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, they are told to "snap out of it", to
"grow a spine", to "deal with it". No one would think of saying those words to a child with leukemia...but they would, and do, to adults or children dealing with mental illness....even some in Ranallo's own family,
The trailer for this documentary is linked below via You Tube, and is elsewhere online. Be aware that it is as
disturbing as I described. Someone dealing with mental illness could well be triggered by what the trailer shows.
It's at this link.
If you can, please take the time to watch it, and to watch Friday's documentary when it airs, or on a subsequent airing. Then remember what you saw if a friend, co-worker, or loved one has mental health issues, and act accordingly.
Showtime Boxing ran an ad for the documentary immediately before a Saturday night Showtime Boxing card that was called (as most are) by Ranallo. If WWE had one ounce of integrity, they would air an advertisement for it on RAW or Smackdown this week...or at least on WWE.com (if it was thought the ad might be a bit much for children or those not expecting it), especially since WWE footage was used in it. But I'm not holding my breath waiting for it.
For anyone reading this blog who is dealing with depression, bi-polar disorder, or other mental health issues, please understand YOU ARE NOT ALONE. As the numbers above show, you are FAR from alone.
Please talk to someone and use the resources here, or find someone you trust to help you. You ARE worth helping.
* Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) - (800) 826-3632
* National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)- 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
* Mental Health America (MHA) - (800) 969-6642
* Adolescent Crisis Intervention/Counseling Nineline 1-800-999-9999
* Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
* Mental Health America (800) 969-6MHA (6642)/In crisis? Call: 1-800-273-TALK
* RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) 800-656- HOPE
Until next time....
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