Rusty Moran grew up in a time when men didn’t talk much about their feelings. His dad suffered with PTSD and addictions to alcohol and gambling that made him distant and frequently abusive. Looking for an escape, Rusty found acceptance in the surfing community of Cronulla Beach. At first, he became known as a local competitor, but then eventually built a reputation as a big wave surfer.
In the high-stakes world of big wave surfing, near drownings were commonplace, but despite all the risks, Rusty felt at home. Despite being called ‘crazy’, he was always searching for more dangerous waves and putting himself into life and death situations on a regular basis. He thought he was living the life he had always wanted – but in reality – he was experiencing intense waves of anxiety, fear, frustration and anger.
After losing four friends in drowning incidents, Rusty decided his time as a professional surfer needed to end. But far from settling into a more relaxing career, he swapped the high and lows of competitive surfing for property investment. He went on to manage a team of 70 people, but was an obsessive-compulsive, over-anxious micromanager who couldn’t let go. This attitude, along with his compulsive risk-taking, led him to great successes, but also to monumental failure. Unfortunately, as a result of the Global Financial Crisis, his business collapsed.
After the GFC, he developed chronic fatigue, bronchitis and viral pneumonia – and then couldn’t get out of bed for 6 months. It took an old friend to tell him it looked like he was experiencing more than a physical illness – he suspected his friend was experiencing major depression. Rusty recalled the global financial crisis as the first time in his life he realised there were things in life he couldn’t control – and it took a tough conversation with a mate to get him to stop ignoring his poor mental health.
Rusty had worked with a zealous need to control everything in his life and as his mental health suffered. He took some time off and started doing his own research – learning about everything from mindfulness, gut health and positive psychology to eventually seeking out a psychologist to talk through his family history of PTSD, addiction and address some of his unresolved childhood traumas.
Now, Rusty is content to live a quieter life as surf coach, foster carer and community mentor, known as a passionate mental health advocate in his local town. After learning and understanding mental health from his own personal battle, and seeing his dad work through his addiction and PTSD issues, Rusty is raising funds and speaking out as part of Colour Your Hair – and he wants more men to have the courage to do the same.
“I am colouring my hair because I want more research to help people, like me and my dad and the things we’ve been through – and help men forget about the stigma. In the past few decades, researchers around the world have made breakthrough after breakthrough helping to identify and treat mental illnesses like PTSD, addiction and other mood disorders like OCD, but we still need to do more. It’s important because you never know, one day your son, father or brother might be the ones who benefit from the next breakthrough”.
Colour Your Hair is raising funds for life changing mental health research into serious issues like depression, addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Help men like Rusty and his dad by donating now.