Garry McDonald AO is an Australian Logie Award winning actor, performing on stage, film and television. He is well known for his portrayal of the character Norman Gunston and for his portrayal of Arthur Beare in the television series Mother and Son. Garry was appointed an Office of the Order of Australia in 2003, for his work in the area of mental illness, in addition to his services in the entertainment industry. Garry is also a former Board Director of Beyond Blue.
Born in Bondi, Sydney, Garry developed an interest in acting and, despite family objections, went on to study at the national Institute of Dramatic Art. Early in his career he met his wife, the actress Diane Craig during a production of Let's get a divorce.
Garry’s mental health issues first came to the public's attention when he reached crisis point after an attempt to revive the Gunston character in 1993. Then again in 1997, McDonald suffered a severe episode during the launch of a new television series: “You get this incredible feeling in your stomach and you become quite frightened… and you can’t put two words together because your ability to be articulate goes and it’s just horrifying… It’s like your life is in danger – it’s like your life is threatened… That’s an anxiety attack, a panic attack”.
Garry’s experience has included episodes of both depression and anxiety, and is a clear reflection of the connection between the two: “I didn’t get depressed until 20 years after I developed an anxiety disorder… I tipped over into major depression”.
Garry is a firm believer of the benefits of taking action and getting support early: “I went and had cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and it was a real revelation… it really helps to get to it early. I say to people experiencing depression and or anxiety… You will not believe it after you have taken action, you will not believe it when you have your life back on track, it just requires a little effort in the beginning”.
“If you think you have symptoms of depression and anxiety, go to your GP and your GP will have a check list and then refer you to appropriate treatment. When I was diagnosed it was a relief because then you can do something about it… and it was the same with anxiety’.