TO Tom Frawley, 'manning up' for mental health has been about openly facing his diagnosis and continuing his uncle Danny's legacy for hope.
Manning up for Tom has been about taking up the fight literally and figuratively in his first amateur boxing match in Queensland this week.
This fight Tom dedicated to his uncle, aunt and cousins, to future Frawley generations and to himself in a challenge to not be defined by mental illness and to keep looking for positive signs in the darkest times.
Danny had been instrumental in helping Tom navigate a bi-polar diagnosis in the months before the AFL great died in a single-car crash at Millbrook in September.
It has taken Tom more than a year to feel he had a platform to carry on his uncle's well-known mental health advocacy.
Tom was devastated by Danny's death and reached a point when he could no longer care for himself. A month after Danny's funeral, Tom was in psychiatric care on the Sunshine Coast, where his parents now live.
In care, Tom saw video of two-time heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury knocked out and dedicate the match to anyone struggling with mental health.
In a 10-week cognitive behaviour outpatient course, Tom started thinking how he could make an impact.
"I found that course magnificent and so beneficial. I thought if I got through this point - when I got through this point - I would do the hardest thing possible," Tom said. "That was to have a fight."
I thought if I got through this point - when I got through this point - I would do the hardest thing possible. That was to have a fight.Tom Frawley
Tom had never done boxing before and, he quipped, none of the Frawleys had ever had a sanctioned match.
He reached out to mental health charity One in Five and Wayne Schwass' Puka Up, both charities his uncle had been actively involved in supporting.
Tom also sought advice from Schwass, the North Melbourne premiership player and outspoken mental health advocate who had spoken at Danny's funeral.
A fundraising target has been set at $20,000 - the estimated cost of Tom's psychiatric care stay - to be shared between both charities. He has tallied almost $7000 so far.
Tom "The Bungaree Bomber" Frawley lost the fight in three rounds. He says his super heavyweight opponent got him with a good uppercut but there was much more to the experience.
But Tom was most proud to last the fight.
" I thought of all the factors and reasons that got me to that point," Tom said. "For me, manning up was for the fight. I'd done a great amount of work to get there. I think it has been resonating with people because of the personal interest.
"I want people to believe you can get better. I want to show you can put in steps and learn from other people's experiences."
I want people to believe you can get better. I want to show you can put in steps and learn from other people's experiences.Tom Frawley
Friends and family in the Bungaree community told The Courier one year on from Danny's death it had been hard to grapple with the loss, particularly with pandemic conditions preventing the community to gather much.
They said Danny never forgot where he came from and was always a proud Bungaree boy.
Bungaree and his Irish background in the potato fields has never been far from Tom's mind either.
The St Patrick's College Old Boy said his hometown influence was likely one reason he had got along so well with his coach so quickly.
Now living and working in Darwin, Tom is under tutelage of Irish professional boxer Scott Belshaw, who has actually fought against Fury.
Belshaw, who has had 18 professional fights, was far from the intense masculinity Tom had expected to encounter in the boxing industry.
Tom said Belshaw had proven an incredible mentor not just in sport but in taking care of your mental health.
"My relationship has grown with my coach and I consider him like family," Tom said. "We do a lot of breath work and meditation. He's definitely not like the aggressive toxic masculinity you might expect from a boxer - but I am sure you would still know if you had him in a fight."
Boxing's demand for discipline and focus is a form of mindfulness for Tom. Any anxieties that creep in create a potential to get physically hurt. In turn, there is a general shift in his mindset.
Tom said he now felt his uncle Danny had passed on a baton to him in championing mental health awareness and that was a pretty significant feeling.
One in Five is sharing Tom Frawley's advice to promote good mental health via the charity's social media channels.
For more details, or to donate, click here and mention Bungaree Bomber in the comments.
- If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, call Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
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Tom's top tips for 'manning up' to your mental health
- Don't mask your problems
- Be kind to yourself, don't self-sabotage
- Ask the uncomfortable questions
- Spend time with the people you love
- Get a mental health team
- Find the right psychologist/psychiatrist
- Don't be afraid of medications
- Invest in your holistic mental health
- Own your mental health