Jay Blades has said there was a time in his life when he saw “no future for me in this world”, as he opened up about his previous struggles with mental health.
The Repair Shop host, 53, said he had “fallen down” and hit “rock bottom” but had overcome his problems with the help of his community.
Speaking to Spencer Matthews on the Big Fish podcast, he discussed his early experiences of racism in school and how he had learned to express his vulnerability.
Blades set up the charity Out of The Dark, teaching young people how to restore and sell old furniture, which later ran out of funding in 2015.
At this time his marriage also broke down, with Blades saying he “saw no future in this world”.
“I call it falling down because I believe we all have to fall down to then be able to get back up,” he told Matthews.
“Some people can’t get back up, but the way that I got back up was with community, the love that they gave me, they built me back up, basically.”
He continued: “I’d say hit rock bottom. Some people want to say suicidal thoughts, depression… At 45 years old I saw no future for me in this world.
“I had three children already, I had a failed marriage… I wanted to end it. If I could have I would have.”
Blades said that he had had “a lot of support” during that period of his life, including several counsellors, and had learned to get rid of the “macho male” attitude he had maintained during his youth.
“The one thing that really worked for me… it’s a case of my vulnerability – when I showed my vulnerability, wow, I just flew… things just started happening,” he said.
“I’ve just got rid of that macho male, ‘Oh, I’m tough as nails, I can handle this’. I can’t handle it, and if I can’t, I’m going to tell someone, ‘Look, I feel a bit rubbish’.”
He added that he now had a teddy bear that he carried with him when feeling uncomfortable or nervous.
“The missus (is) like, ‘If you take that teddy bear, I know I’ve got to call you at least three times, because you’re feeling a bit nervous’,” he said.
Asked for his advice to others experiencing struggles with mental health, he said: “One of the things that worked for me is speaking to people and speaking to people that care.
“Because sometimes you could speak to friends or you can give them a sign and they might take the mickey and those are the people that are not going to help you, plain and simple.
“I think one of the things that we’ve done in this society now, we’ve made a big, big noise which I’m really happy about with regards to mental health.”
The full interview with Jay Blades can be listened to on the Big Fish With Spencer Matthews podcast on Global Player now.
– For anyone who needs help, Samaritans can be contacted for free on 116 123, emailed at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.