Mental health: BBC’s Wynne Evans on running to tackle depression

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By David GrundyBBC News

Wynne Evans Wynne Evans with his dogWynne Evans

“I’m fine to talk about it now, but at that time nothing would help me,” says Wynne Evans

Broadcaster Wynne Evans has lost more than seven stone (40kg) since hitting what he calls “rock bottom”.

The break-up of his marriage led to the start of a deep depression for the opera singer, who won last year’s Celebrity MasterChef on BBC One.

The 52-year-old BBC Radio Wales host spoke about his experiences to mark the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Wynne, who became a household name from his Go Compare adverts, said he began having “very dark thoughts” in 2016, but a combination of medication and exercise has helped him.

“It was almost like grief, but you can’t grieve for somebody that’s still there,” he said.

“So it really affected my mental health, my confidence and my ego – it totally changed me as a person.

“It made me very aware of being alone,” he said. “And even though I was only 46 I had this irrational fear of dying on my own.”

“I had very dark thoughts and very dark days where I would contemplate all sorts of terrible things.

Wynne Evans Wynne EvansWynne Evans

Wynne Evans, who is also a tenor, compares the benefits of running to singing

“I think it’s obvious what I’m saying, but I don’t want to say it because some people find it distressing.

“I’m fine to talk about it now, but at that time nothing would help me.”

He described how things came to a head one Easter Sunday.

“I realised that I wanted my life to be over and I did some stupid things,” he said.

“Then I went to seek some help with a proper psychiatrist and got on some medication, which for me was a good way of me helping me to help myself.”

The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is “movement” and, while exercise and fresh air may not work for everyone, Wynne said it did for him.

He bought an exercise bike and a treadmill, began running and made changes to his diet.

Wynne Evans on Celebrity MasterChef

Wynne Evans used his winning appearance on Celebrity MasterChef to showcase produce from Wales

“I’ve lost about seven stone,” he said.

“Talking is important, but the most important thing for me is just running.

“So if I’m at home and feeling a bit down I do 20 minutes on the treadmill and it’s the best way to make myself feel brighter.

“It’s like singing, which also releases endorphins in the body,” said the tenor, who is originally from Carmarthen.

Things he once considered problematic he now uses as positives.

“My anxiety and my mental health is my superpower,” he said.

“Thanks to anxiety I know exactly what to do when things go wrong, because I’ve already thought about it a thousand times.

“So I think it’s a strength and when you see it in other people you’re able to help them as well.

“I love that.“

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this story, BBC Action Line has links to organisations that can offer help and advice.

You can also go to bbc.co.uk/mentalwellbeing for more stories, information, inspiration and tips around mental wellbeing.

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