Liverpool Echo sports reporter Kristian Walsh has opened up on his fight with depression in a column for the newspaper.
Kristian revealed that he was close to 22 stone at his lowest ebb, which saw him bullied about his weight on social media.
He says taking more exercise has not only made him happier but helped him drop down to under 13 stone, allowing him to run a 10k race and raise more than £2,000 for mental health charity Mind.
In his column, which was published ahead of mental health awareness event Time to Talk Day yesterday, Kristian revealed that he had once walked into the Echo’s offices smiling after laying “frozen” on his kitchen floor just half an hour before.
Last month, North Wales Daily Post journalist Amelia Shaw wrote a first-person piece for her newspaper about her battle with anxiety – winning praise from ex-Hull Daily Mail district reporter Steve Anderson, who had himself written a feature for the Yorkshire Post in October on his lifelong experience with depression.
Wrote Kristian: “For so long, talking felt like a sign of weakness. This society is one still obsessed with machismo, harbouring a suspicion towards mental health.”
“Once I’d admitted it aloud, it meant I could focus on learning to live with it and understand it. There’s no cure, it is no disease or illness.
“With the help of mental health charity Mind, I educated myself; I was not the only one suffering and others had shared stories of their battle. Exercise was a common theme; physical activity releases endorphins, essentially making people happier.”
“I still have moments. I always will. There are still days when the world seems dark, but they are far fewer now, and I can cope with them better. It also means I can talk about mental health with honesty.”
Kristian told HTFP the response he had received since the piece was published had been “overwhelming”.
He said: ” From my wonderfully supportive colleagues, to those who have simply read my story on social media, the reaction has blown me away. I truly feel fortunate to have so many good people in my life, whether directly or indirectly.
“I am mindful that I have the privilege of a platform to speak upon. When I wrote the article, it was not for me, but for anyone who has ever suffered – or think they may be suffering – from mental health problems.
“People have since messaged me publicly on Twitter to tell me how much of my story reflects in theirs, and how it has given them the courage to open up. That means so much to me.
“A stigma still surrounds mental health. It is seen as a sign of weakness to talk about it. Because of that, people will suffer in silence. Hopefully the reaction I have received shows there is no need to do that.
“Though there is a still a lot of education necessary, there are plenty of people out there who will listen, care and support. If you are struggling then please, speak up. We are listening.”