Mauro Ranallo aims to shatter stigma of mental health discussions in new documentary

"Bipolar Rock 'N Roller," a documentary on Mauro Ranallo, will premiere on Showtime Sports on Friday. Jay Talbott/Icon SMI

For Mauro Ranallo, "Bipolar Rock 'N Roller" is not so much a documentary on his life as it is a public service announcement.

Showtime Sports is set to release the film on Friday. It explores the renowned sports broadcaster's lifelong battle with mental illness and his parallel rise to becoming one of the top commentators in combat sports and professional wrestling.

It includes raw footage of Ranallo, 48, suffering from mental breakdowns, caused by bipolar disorder. There are clips of him half-naked and sobbing. Lashing out at the camera operator, whom he considers a "dear friend." Comments about suicide.

It's ugly, at times, which is what Ranallo wanted. It documents the reality of his struggle -- but also his success, in spite of it.

And what he hopes that ultimately translates to -- hope.

"This is who I am, and people are still paying me good money for my talents," Ranallo told ESPN. "So there is going to be someone out there who watches this and says, 'Wow, I didn't know.' They're going to have a wife dealing with it, or a brother. They're going to be a banker, a doctor or a military vet. Every walk of life. And they're going to say, 'Maybe if he has a chance to handle it, then I have a chance to handle it.'

"This is not a vanity project about Mauro Ranallo. This is a human being who is trying to cure a stigma that is so f---ing unnecessary and is literally killing hundreds of thousands of people. Those people, who are losing their battle, are what really drives me. We need to start communicating."

May is mental health awareness month, but recently, it has been a major topic in sports in general. NBA player Kevin Love opened up about mental health issues earlier this year. Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps did as well.

Ranallo wants to see the stigma associated with discussing mental health, particularly among men, shattered completely. His condition has hospitalized him multiple times over the course of his life, and it prevents him from taking pride in his accomplishments.

It threatens his life.

"Sometimes, I take an account of things I've done even just within the last year," Ranallo said. "I called John Cena and A.J. Styles in Royal Rumble 2017. Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017, one of the greatest heavyweight title fights in modern boxing history. [Floyd] Mayweather versus [Conor] McGregor.

"And instead of going, 'Holy s---, that's incredible,' for me, it's like, 'What's next?' It's weird, I always feel like my career is about to end. Like someone is coming to get me. I don't know. I guess I need to find a better balance, but without my work, I don't think I would be alive. If I don't work, I don't live.

"There's a constant struggle between my ears about who I am and what I mean to the world. And that's another reason I'm doing this documentary, because I can honestly say I don't know how much longer I will even be here. So I want to help people before maybe I'm gone."

Ranallo says he has found cannabis to be an effective form of medication, although he never uses it on-air. Playing the piano provides a tremendous outlet, and connecting with other people who suffer from mental health issues is extremely important.

That is the purpose of "Bipolar Rock 'N Roller." And the potential good that may come out of the film is what Ranallo says will be his "legacy" -- more so than his broadcasting career.

"There are so many people who are going to lose the battle, and all we have to do is do what you and I are doing right now," Ranallo said. "Let's just talk to each other a little more. We talk about the weather ad nauseam. We analyze fights ad nauseam. Ask people, 'How are you?' and really mean it. That's all. Maybe a few moments of concern is all they need, and then you go on with your life. Imagine."