Joanita Wibowo

"I just hit a wall": Meshel Laurie reveals why she left The Project

"I just hit a wall": Meshel Laurie reveals why she left The Project

Meshel Laurie has revealed the personal struggles that led her to leave her radio hosting job and regular appearances at The Project.

In an interview with McKnight Tonight podcast, the comedian and broadcaster told Rob McKnight how the struggles she faced earlier this year made her turn to alcohol and contemplate suicide.

“[In] early 2019, I was in a situation where I was having a breakdown basically,” said Laurie.

The 45-year-old said she had to leave her radio gig to tend to her “dying” father, who was living with her at the time. 

“I had to give up working full time in breakfast radio because I couldn’t cope with the hours and the pressures at home,” Laurie admitted. 

She also said the pressures from caring gave her serious anxiety, which she “self-medicated” with alcohol. 

“I was drinking heavily every night [and] tweeting … a hideous combination and a terrible place to be.”

Apart from her radio job, Laurie also stopped appearing on Channel Ten’s panel show The Project

“I’d worked really hard for a really long time and I’d always enjoyed [working in the media], but I just hit a wall, you know?” she said.

“You’re so driven by the next job and getting the job and keeping the job, and the fear of other people coming up behind you, and the fear of taking a day off, that whoever replaces you will be great … I was that person, I wanted to keep grinding.”

As her drinking became worse, Laurie said she became more reckless on social media and ended up in online fights.

She said she “made some mistakes” while drunk on Twitter, sparking the anger of activists on Twitter.

The media personality, who is a strong supporter of asylum seekers, encouraged counter protesters to boycott a white supremacist rally as she believed the situation might get out of control. 

However, many people on the social media platform became furious at Laurie for telling people of colour what they should or should not do.

“When people started attacking me and saying, ‘Stop telling black people what to do’. I reacted and I felt insulted. Then it just got out of hand,” she confessed.

“I ended up being really terrified of social media, which I still am now ... I’m really frightened of speaking in public.”

Following the online backlash, she said she felt “devastated” and “suicidal” as the people that she had helped and reached out to in the past “hung s**t” on her publicly.

However, during that low moment, unexpected help came in the form of fellow TV personality Georgie Gardner, who sent her a supportive message. 

“She was just really kind, and she was just saying everyone used to say to Charlotte [Dawson], ‘switch it off, mate’ – like, let it go, it doesn't matter, none of this is important, just go to bed, get some sleep, tomorrow's another day,” said Laurie.

In the morning, she re-read Gardner’s message and thought, “’What a nice lady!’ She’s got enough to deal with in her actual life, and I had so many real friends who were not stepping in for me, were not contacting me, and I knew they must be seeing it, and they were not – and still, frankly, haven’t. But yeah, what a nice lady!

“And I sometimes I see things in the media ... and I think, ‘I must try and find a way to tell the world that she’s a really nice person!’”

If you are troubled by this article, experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide, you can call Lifeline 131 114 or beyondblue 1300 224 636 or visit lifeline.org.au or beyondblue.org.au.