Glamorous AFL wag opens up about her secret health battle which results in her vomiting at least once every 24 hours and repeating the words ‘plane crash free’ a hundred times a day
- Monique Fontana suffered obsessive compulsive disorder since she was a teen
- The girlfriend of Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps sought psychiatric care
- Ms Fontana said some of her impulses included vomiting one meal every day
- She also repeats certain phrases hundreds of times a day for her safety
- She said her boyfriend has been supportive but it’s hard being away from him
Monique Fontana has battled the illness since she was a teenager, but sought psychiatric care for two weeks this month when she recognised her habits were intensifying.
Her partner and Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps, is confined to a Queensland COVID hub designed to get the game up and running again during the pandemic.
Ms Fontana, 25, had the opportunity to join him when he first left, but opted against leaving the couple’s Richmond home and her routine out of fear her condition could deteriorate in isolation.
As part of her condition, Ms Fontana’s rituals included repeating the phrases ‘malignant cancer free’ and ‘plane crash free’ hundreds of times a day to ‘protect’ herself and her family from danger.
Monique Fontana and her partner, Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps, at the 2019 Brownlow Medal ceremony
Ms Fontana’s partner is confined to a Queensland COVID hub designed to get the game up and running again during the pandemic
She told Herald Sun the concern about cancer stemmed from her sister requiring cancer treatment as a teenager, while her fear of planes began when she was 18 after suffering a severe panic attack while flying.
‘I have to repeat that in my head multiple times. It’s reassuring, if I don’t do it I fear something bad’s going to happen to someone,’ she explained.
Another of her habits has been to repeat sentences again and again in her head until they reached a certain length.
She would envision four dots in her mind and the sentence had to span the entire width of the dots, meaning she would sometimes repeat the words countless times until she felt they had ended on the ‘last dot’.
During lockdown, Ms Fontana has developed another sinister impulse.
The 25-year-old feels she must vomit at least one of her meals up each day.
During lockdown, Ms Fontana (pictured with her dog) has developed another sinister impulse. The 25-year-old feels she must vomit at least one of her meals up each day
Cripps (right) is confined to a Queensland COVID hub designed to get the game up and running again during the pandemic
‘I think they manifest as well, with the vomiting, that was a completely new one to me that had never happened until recently. I’ve never worried about my weight or anything. And then with my OCD, my head told me I had to vomit that one meal a day.
‘I wouldn’t leave the house. I started feeling just so tired and drained. Just no energy whatsoever. I would call Pat every day crying to him, saying ”I don’t know what to do, I just, I don’t know what to do”.’
When she recognised the severity of her condition and its progression throughout lockdown, Ms Fontana voluntarily took herself to hospital.
‘I spent time in hospital to learn techniques and skills to manage my OCD,’ she said on Instagram on Wednesday.
‘I learnt so much about myself, my condition and how for me it will not go but I will be able to manage it to live a fulfilled life.’
The couple have been together for five years and Ms Fontana said Cripps has been nothing but supportive since learning of her condition
What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder which generally troubles sufferers with thoughts or impulses they don’t necessarily want.
Sufferers usually have repetitive rituals even though they may be aware that their actions are irrational or excessive.
The compulsion to undertake certain tasks is often impossible to resist.
Treatment helps to manage and reduce symptoms and impulses.
Ms Fontana said she hoped that by speaking out about her condition, she could help spread awareness and encourage people to talk about mental health issues.
‘There are times where we do need extra help, and that can change your life,’ she said.
She offered to be a pillar of support to other people in her situation, asking them to reach out so she could share funny stories and encourage them to seek support.
Ms Fontana said her partner has been incredibly supportive of her condition, even studying it in his spare time to better understand how to help her.
Cripps is now considering undertaking a post grad in psychology and has involved his club every step of the way to ensure they get the best support possible.
‘When I’ve called him crying, he has been there for me, and he has just sat there and just listened to what I have to say. He’s taught me how to breathe properly. He sent me a little teddy bear when I was in hospital and I had to call him Moose and he said to hug Moose when I got sad,’ Ms Fontana said.
The couple often meditate together and do a lot of mindfullness work, which has been restricted since he entered the AFL hub.
Ms Fontana said its been ‘very, very difficult’ not having him at home with her, citing concerns that he might too be struggling.
‘He puts on such a brave face … he’s so strong, but I worry about him a lot. I think he feels the need to hold everyone together, he feels a lot of responsibility to make sure everyone’s happy. It’s a really beautiful quality of him but sometimes I worry that can wear him out a little bit,’ she explained.
Ms Fontana said she hoped that by speaking out about her condition, she could help spread awareness and encourage people to talk about mental health issues
Ms Fontana said its been ‘very, very difficult’ not having him at home with her, citing concerns that he might too be struggling