Terry Cornick: Founder of mental health support group ‘Mr Perfect’
Who is Mr. Perfect?
I am the original “Mr Perfect”. I moved to Australia from the UK at 25 years old to “escape” and now I am an Australian Citizen with no intention of living anywhere else (except perhaps New York). I ended up being materially “successful” and could live a different persona as to the person I was in the UK. But it was not the answer to happiness. At 30 I finally plucked up the courage to get professional help for depression, anxiety and PTSD (amongst other quirks) and since then I have battled every day to keep going forward.
What does Mr. Perfect do?
We facilitate conversation and connection through authentic personal stories, awareness, education and interaction. We are always Inclusive, Supportive and Approachable. These “services” come in the form of Online initiatives such as our website, blogs, vlogs, social media and newsletter and Offline through our monthly BBQ meetups, quarterly events and organisational talks.
Why did you start Mr. Perfect?
Mr. Perfect was inspired by my own battle. Everyone on the outside (at least since I moved to Australia to “escape” at 25) thought I was Superman and my best mate jokingly called me “Mr. Perfect”, unaware of how imperfect I actually was. I figured if I am “coping” then there will be a hell of a lot of other men out there that need help too.
One day in the pub after I had started seeing a GP and Psychiatrist I told my closest mates I was seeking help for depression (PTSD and anxiety would also be diagnosed). Around the same time I read a report by Beyond Blue about men’s “connectedness” that effectively summarised that as men creeped over 30 years of age, they lost contact with friends and outlets that may help them deal with potential mental health issues. The blog was mainly theraputic for me but when I received support from some mates that also experienced struggles, we decided to do something about it.
When did you start Mr. Perfect?
We officially became an “Incorporated Association” on 30 June 2016, but unofficially I setup the website as an anonymous blog only back in December 2014.
Tell us more about the Mr. Perfect meet-ups.
Essentially, they are free informal meetups held monthly in Sydney on the last Sunday of the month (with a plan to spread to other areas soon). It involves me getting my tongs and apron on to cook a Sausage Sizzle BBQ (or Veggie Option provided).
The format is simple, informal and completely inclusive. It sometimes includes an activity but is mainly a chance to get out of the house in the sun, socialise and meet some good people. Dogs, friends and family are welcome too!
You do not have to have a mental health issue or even talk about mental health, but the amount of natural, productive conversations and personal stories that have come up are inspirational (as well as some laughter and banter too).
What does being a dad mean to you?
It is my biggest achievement and my most important purpose in life.
What do you think is the single biggest challenge of fatherhood?
To convince yourself you are doing the best you can. I am naturally self-critical but I find it hard to tell whether I am being a good father. My father was not physically or emotionally present barely at all but I am pleased so far that I connect as well as I can with Finn. My dad never once told me he loved me but I tell Finn every day I love him as it comes naturally and will continue to do so.
How has life changed since you’ve become a dad?
Without a doubt. I have called it a “seismic shift”. Your life does not stop, it just flips 180 degrees to a life so different from what came before.
How do you balance work, family and the Mr. Perfect site?
With difficulty! But I manage to do it. I used to spend more time and effort on the day job/work but realised money was not the answer. But now my family came first always. Weekends are pure family time and nothing comes before it. When Finn naps in the day or goes to bed at night I spend time on Mr. Perfect. It has effectively become a second job but I have never made a cent from it, it has been originally funded by me but now I have a family, I have to reach out to others for donations to keep the meetups going and the increased administration costs.
How do you think the role of being a dad has changed since your father’s time?
Thirty years ago, my father was out of the door before I even woke and did not come home until I was in bed. The pressure was purely to put food on the table and pay the rent. Any emotional connection was purely a bonus if you could have that with your father/son. Dads are now expected to be the main breadwinner but also share equally the tasks of fatherhood. This does not suggest it has got easier for mothers. If anything, society and economics mean both parents have to work harder in all aspects of their life and still find time to bring up their children well.
What are five things you think your son should know by the time he turns 18?
- He must be patient always, rushing things ends badly.
- He will be loved unconditionally whatever he chooses to do in life as long as he tries his best not to hurt others.
- To love people and not things.
- To be himself always.
- His dad will always listen and never judge or desert him.
For more information on ‘Mr Perfect’, including their regular meet ups in Sydney, visit www.mrperfect.org.au.