Fiona Phillips: I wasn't well when I did Strictly

Ian Sandwell
Photo credit: BBC

From Digital Spy

Fiona Phillips has opened up about the mental health difficulties she was going through while she was taking part in Strictly Come Dancing.

She danced with Brendan Cole on the 2005 series, as well as continuing to present GMTV with Eamonn Holmes, and she now recognises that the "chronic stress" she was feeling at the time led to depression.

"Eamonn always used to say, 'You are clinically depressed', and I was saying, 'I'm not'. I really was. I didn't seek help – I didn't have time. I kept telling myself I would be fine and kept blaming myself," Fiona told The Mirror.

Photo credit: Dave Benett / Getty Images

At the time, her mother was in the final stages of Alzheimer's and her father's illness was in its early stages, but Fiona still felt as though she couldn't turn down Strictly.

"I was asked to do the first series and the second. Then my agent said, 'If you don't do it now you can say goodbye to big gigs at the BBC', and what have you. There was real pressure," she recalled.

"So I did it but I wasn't well enough to be doing it, mentally. I was doing GMTV and had the children and my parents, and I threw that into the mix and I just felt this enormous guilt. Why am I doing this when my mum's in a home?

"I remember that as a really traumatic episode. It's an amazing privilege to do it, but I just had too much going on in my head.

"I was a mess during that, I was on the verge of tears mainly."

Fiona was eventually voted out in week four and at the time was criticised as being Brendan's worst partner.

Since then, Fiona said that she still struggles not to worry and sometimes still has depressive episodes, but doesn't "have it for months on end or anything".

She also said that she finds mindfulness beneficial, adding: "It is about living in the moment which is really good for stress. Not looking back to the past and not looking to the future.

"I'm learning just to concentrate on deep breathing, trying to centre myself in the moment and calmly do what I have to do first."

Fiona can be seen in BBC documentary The Truth About Stress, which airs tonight (May 4) at 9pm on BBC One.

Readers affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans free on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.

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