Eddie the Eagle health: Legendary sportsman was ‘badly’ affected by condition

Eddie the Eagle recalls famous Calgary Winter Olympic jump

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In the closing ceremony of the Canadian games, President of the organising committee Frank King singled out the plasterer from Cheltenham, something that would seal the nickname Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards in history. He said: “You have broken world records and you have established personal bests. Some of you have even soared like an eagle.” Since then, Edwards held the British ski jumping record until 2001 and his incredible underdog story became the subject of a film starring Taron Egerton back in 2015. Behind the scenes, the 58-year-old has struggled with mental health, something he opened up about in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Although saying that he never really lets negative things affect him, Edwards went on to say that his divorce from his wife hit him harder than expected.

“Two years ago, my wife announced she wanted a divorce, and that affected me really badly. I never thought I could suffer from depression, but I realise I actually was depressed,” he explained back in 2016.

“I wasn’t nasty, I was just in a very down place all the time. It was a real effort to go out and do things.

“Being Eddie the Eagle was nice because I had to perform, and that kind of helped pull me up.

“But when I got home, I switched back to Michael Edwards, and I’d be weeping in front of the telly, because I wanted to be at home with my kids, reading them a bedtime story.”

The star went on to explain that it took a “long” time to get out of the headspace he was in, leaving him with a newfound outlook on life and mental illness.

He continued to say: “I have tasted it, and I have a newfound respect and empathy for mental illness, depression, and just how easy it is for people to get in a situation like that.

“I never thought I’d be someone who could get depressed, but it turns out it’s very easy.”

The sportsman went on to say that he is still at his happiest when he is on skis, something that he has been doing since he was 13 years old.

“I’m two completely different people. When I’m on skis, I think I’m unbeatable, I’m the king and this is my domain,” Edwards added.

“All the girls I ever asked out were on the ski slope, but take me away from the ski slope, to a bar or a club, and it’s a different matter. I’m very, very shy, and I would find it enormously difficult to speak.”

Clinical depression is defined by the NHS as the feeling of persistent sadness for weeks or months, rather than a few days which most people commonly feel.

The condition affects people in many different ways and can cause a variety of different symptoms ranging from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy.

Ranging from mild to severe, in its mildest form individuals may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.

Typically depression can come on gradually, making it difficult for individuals to notice that something is wrong, but in some circumstances, depression may be one of the symptoms of another condition.

These include:

  • Postnatal depression – sometimes new mothers, fathers or partners develop depression after they have a baby; this is known as postnatal depression and it’s treated in a similar way to other types of depression, with talking therapies and antidepressant medicines
  • Bipolar disorder – also known as “manic depression”, in bipolar disorder there are spells of both depression and excessively high mood (mania); the depression symptoms are similar to clinical depression, but the bouts of mania can include harmful behaviour, such as gambling, going on spending sprees and having unsafe sex
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also known as “winter depression”, SAD is a type of depression with a seasonal pattern usually related to winter.

Individuals who have experienced symptoms of depression for most of the day regularly for two weeks or more are advised to seek advice from a GP.

A GP will be able to guide individuals on the best treatments available for them based on the type of depression they have.

For mild depression medical professionals may suggest waiting a short time to see if it gets better by itself or self-help techniques such as talking to a friend or relative.

For more moderate and severe depression, talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) or antidepressants are more commonly recommended. If you have severe depression, you may be referred to a mental health team made up of psychologists, psychiatrists, specialist nurses and occupational therapists which use a combination of both.

For confidential mental health support individuals can call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively, text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19.

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