In this week of madness, spare a thought for Matt Cross and his family fighting the worst enemy of all...the one from within. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/manlys-matt-cross-bravely-tackling-his-inner-demons/story-e6frexnr-1226128459562 BY rights, Matt Cross should be in Brisbane this weekend helping Manly spoil Darren Lockyer's farewell party. Instead, the big NRL prop will be at home with wife Jodie and kids Riley and Lacey celebrating Father's Day. Cross quit football last weekend after a career tormented by continued misdiagnosis and a private pain that turned his world to hell. Almost everyone has an opinion on bipolar disorder. Too often the stigma is that it's just an excuse for celebrities and sporting stars who behave badly. Matt and Jodie have another opinion - formed by cruel experience. After surviving a lifetime of torment, Matt wants to speak of the hope that comes from doing the hard yards. He reckons there would be kids on every street who could relate to his story. "You would go out to parties drinking but I always wanted to keep drinking and write myself off," he says. "It's like you just wanted to escape your reality ... when I was at Penrith, the boys used to call me Hank. You know the movie Me, Myself And Irene - the split personality? If I started drinking, I would change my personality and go on a bender." He knew there was a problem - he just didn't know what. Depression was his first diagnosis but the medication only made his condition worse. In 2009 he found answers at his fourth NRL club, Manly. But it didn't solve his problems immediately and last October Matt attempted suicide. He spent a week in Northside Clinic seeking help. Just as it appeared his life was back on track, Jodie answered a call from a woman who had lived through it all before. Cath Johns, wife of league legend Andrew Johns, "rang and said Andrew had just been with Matt and Andrew thought that Matt was manic", Jodie recalls. From his own experiences with bipolar, Johns recognised the high would eventually end in a low. And more importantly, he cared enough to speak out for his mate. "I knew he wasn't managing the bipolar," Jodie said. "We were both guilty. It had become a dirty word in the house ... but the not sleeping had started again and that is the worst because you know they are just going to crash." And crash he did. JODIE went to her mother's with the kids but returned to find Matt almost comatose. She called Manly football manager Steve Gigg, who bundled media manager Peter Peters and captain Jamie Lyon into a car and headed to the Cross home. Matt had bravely told his team-mates about his problems when he arrived at the club. Now they got to see first-hand the torment that walked with him every step of the way. "They put me into the Manly hospital psych ward and I ended up going to the clinic again," he says. Jodie was ready to walk out on the marriage. Fed-up, frustrated - who could blame her? But then her own brother helped her understand. "He said to me, and I will never forget it, 'What if Matt was in a different ward and he had cancer - would you go and see him then?' I said, 'Of course I would'. "Brad said, 'Well, it's no different'. Matt didn't ask for this, he doesn't want this. That's the thing I want to get out there: Bipolar doesn't discriminate. You think Matt's a big strong footballer ... how could anything hurt him?" Now, with the right medication, it's been seven months since Matt suffered his last setback. Tomorrow they'll celebrate Father's Day - as a family. September is men's health month. Matt's ready to begin the next chapter of his life by helping the NRL teach young players it's OK to ask for help. "People have to know that there is someone to talk to," he said Best wishes to Matt and his family.Keep fighting the good fight.