John Bowe

John Bowe

Motor sports champion
The bottom line is you've got to seek some help.
Read transcript

Ambassador profile

John Bowe

A legend of Australian motor sport, John Bowe is a multiple Australian Champion, having twice won the Australian Drivers' Championship during the Formula Mondial era and securing an Australian Sports Car Championship, before winning the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1995.

John’s record-breaking V8 Supercar career spanned 22 years, while his 35 year career achievements are recorded in the history books. He is also an inductee into the V8Supercars Hall of Fame.

John now races in the Touring Car Masters (TCM) and 2011 culminated in a highly successful race season by his winning the TCM Championship. 

John experienced an episode of depression leading up to and following his retirement from the sport and subsequently he became a beyondblue Ambassador to share his story and journey to recovery. 

“During the course of 2006-07, I was coming to the end of a professional career which had lasted 25 years, so quite a long time and unusual for sport.

“I was feeling pretty down about it all, but I wouldn't say I was depressed… but I went to see a couple of clinical psychologists and in some ways, they helped.

“I remember them saying a lot of professional athletes feel like this, which really doesn't do you any good knowing someone else feels like that, as it doesn't make you feel any better.

John described depression like being layers of lasagne with the layers adding up and eventually people feel depressed.

“You’re not depressed to start with, you might be down in the dumps about it or have trouble dealing with it or accepting it, but eventually it leads to depression.

“It did with me – it was dreadful. It was the most debilitating, frightening, awful thing that I've ever had anything to do with.

“Plenty of well-meaning people say to you to pull yourself through or to get on with life. However, when it gets a hold on you, it’s very difficult and you certainly can’t ignore it.

“I ignored it for a very long time, but it gets more and more of a hold on you. You can’t ignore it, you have to do something about it.” 

John’s advice to people who are concerned about their mental health is to speak to a doctor about how they’re feeling.

“GPs are like mechanics – there are good and bad ones, so if you get a bad one, keep looking for a good one.

“A lot of people are anti-medication, but you've got to do what you can do to get better. In my case, a particular medication helped me quite a lot, but I had tried others.

“The bottom line is you've got to seek some help."

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