Boxing champion Frank Bruno and his daughter Rachel talk about their family journey through mental illness and the conversations that have brought them closer.
Video transcript: Frank and Rachel Bruno talk about mental health
Frank Bruno: It’s time to talk; it’s time to change.
Rachel Bruno: I was 16 years’ old the day my dad was sectioned. All of us kids we didn’t really – before my dad was sectioned it wasn’t really spoken about you know. And really actually I don’t think we spoke to you about your illness because – it was just – I don’t know you just didn’t feel –
Frank: I was on a different level at the time, you know what I mean.
Rachel: Yes, he was – he wasn’t like – it wasn’t something to talk about.
Frank: I wasn’t really approachable or whatever, yes.
Rachel: No so – but then obviously after he was – once he was sectioned it is – I think it felt – it became a lot easier to talk about it because it was out in the open and we all felt comfortable to talk to you about it, didn’t we?
Frank: Mmmm. The kids will tell you that sometimes I can be –
Rachel: Very stubborn.
Frank: Ignorant, stubborn and stupid and I should have gone in there about a year earlier – or seven months’ earlier before that. But I wouldn’t admit to – I mean any man will tell you –
Rachel: Well I think the first step for your recovery was admitting to it and then we could then take it a step further and then –
Frank: I wouldn’t admit it you know as a man you have always got that little bit of a pride, you know?
Rachel: Well it was nice in the hospital to sit there and talk to you about – finally to be able to sit there and say “Do you remember doing this?” It was quite funny. We were laughing and joking about it weren’t we?
Frank: Well quite a lot of the things I do are – (laughs)
Rachel: But there it was nice to talk to you about it, wasn’t it?
Frank: I couldn’t stop myself to be quite honest.
Rachel: Yes and then like now I think if we could have – if we see you being a bit manic we can say to you “Dad, oh are you feeling alright today?” Or “I think you should slow down a bit.”
Frank: Yeah, definitely.
Rachel: Which is quite nice; because as before we couldn’t even speak about it, could we?
Frank: True, true, true. I was ** [0:01:34].
Rachel: So I do think you being in the hospital and taking a bit of time out has helped us kids have our dad back and have a better relationship, do you know what I mean?
Frank: Yes, yes definitely. Definitely I would quite agree with you darling.
Rachel: I think it is nice because even people now will come up to you in the street and they are like “How is your dad? How is he feeling?” Which is quite nice. We had so much support off your fans I think.
Frank: Yeah unbelievable man, and I would like to thank them. It was very touching.
Rachel: There was hardly I don’t think any negative – like from - negative feelings from your fans.
Frank: Sometimes when you are going places like that you don’t realise how many people as a family has been through whatever I have been through, but worth or what – you know it was amazing. They were all families –
Rachel: They say – when I was chatting to Olivia from the campaign she was like one in four people. So there is a lot of people.
Frank: One in four people – that is more than one in four people because they won’t come out and face it because of the shame to have that in your family because people – when I came out of the hospital people were crossing the road rather than meet you or give you eye contact or whatever. But to have that on your doorstep saying “Oh watch him he went into a thing – maybe he is a little bit borderline or whatever.” That is what people say about you. People talk. Because some people don’t ** [0:02:48].
Rachel: I think that is where people need to change their attitudes and become a bit more open.
Frank: It could happen to this man, whoever; it could happen to that my sister; it could happen to that man’s father. You never know it could happen to anybody. It doesn’t really take – it doesn’t really pinpoint and say “Yes it will happen to that person.” It could happen to anybody. If you have got a puncture you either call the AA or you go “Oh man, could you please do my puncture.” But if – you know what I mean your teeth hurt and you go to the dentist. If your eyes hurt you go to the opticians. If your head is hurting you go and see someone about mental health. It would be nice just to let it out rather than keeping it in. Because the more you keep it in the more you explode when it comes out. So if you have got something wrong with you there are people to see. Your brain is the most important thing out of anything in your life to look after. Because once that goes you will be there – you will be going “Cuckoo, cuckoo,” all night and people just walk past you and say “Oh sad boy.” So it is always important to look after yourself you know?
Rachel: No, I do think it is important to talk about mental health because I think a lot of families they don’t talk about it enough. I am not saying it will make things 100 times better; it won’t. But I think that first step of actually being able to approach the person who is suffering and say “Just how are you feeling?” Just something “How are you feeling today?” A little question like that can actually make a lot of difference because then it opens it up for them to actually say “Actually I am feeling a bit down today,” and then go on to why. I think it is part of the process and the recovery to be open and talk about it. Do you not think?
Frank: Yeah definitely. You always are supposed to be open and talking about it. Sometimes you get – talk about it you get you know what I mean – the hump of your back. It relaxes you and takes the pressure off. Then when someone is chucking a suggestion to you either take it or just bin it. You know what I mean? But if your kids are trying to tell you something you know they are not going to tell you no rubbish.
Rachel: No we could say “Oh Dad I think you are being a bit – you are a bit down today, what’s wrong?” That could actually make you – perk you up and make you feel 10 times better.
Frank: Definitely - yes, yes, yes. Respect, respect. So I just keep myself – I have got my family. My beautiful girls Rachel and Nicola; Franklyn and Freya and I am just happy and I just get on with my life and do what I have got to do you know? I don’t ask for no sympathy. I just get on with what I got to do; just be strong. It is just something that you go through, you know? And I hope no one else has to go through it again. But unfortunately they will go through it again. But you know what I mean – just take a little bit of – what is that special word you just said?
Frank Bruno: Oh, compassion. When you are – do you know what I mean, approaching people with that –
Rachel: You have to be compassionate.
Frank: There is a big, big compassion about it. That is all they are asking. They are not asking for nothing more.
Rachel: But I think all of us kids are proud of you though. Because it was a – the huge step you took to actually admitting you had an illness and your recovery and all the things you have done for us kids – the life you have given us we are proud of you for it.
Frank: Yes, thank you very much. Don’t talk no more because it is going to make me start crying and I don’t want to cry in front of the camera man. But thank you very much daughter. Very sweet of you.