Wynne Evans: 'The second lockdown really was not good for me'
Welsh opera singer and broadcaster Wynne Evans has spoken frankly about his mental health struggles during the coronavirus pandemic, and said he has previously considered taking his own life.
Carmarthen-born Wynne, who stars as flamboyant tenor Gio Compario in the GoCompare adverts, features in an ITV Cymru Wales documentary exploring how the pandemic has affected people's mental health.
The hour-long programme is presented by former Welsh rugby international and endurance athlete Richard Parks, who has experienced depression and anxiety himself.
The two men have known each other for a number of years, and have had many conversations about their own mental health - this time on camera for the documentary Richard Parks: Climbing out of Lockdown.
'Am I going to feel this sad forever?'
Wynne told Richard: "The second lockdown really was not good for me. The amount of nights I sat here crying - for a reason of loneliness, really."
When asked about his darkest moments, Wynne replied: "The really dark places that I've been to, where my thoughts were of taking my own life, and going to the point of getting everything ready - there's almost a sense of relief at that point, because you've made the decision to do what you want to do."
He described that time as 'heartbreaking', adding: "I was just so sad. Just so, so sad.
"It's selfish, in a way. You know, the kids don't want their dad to die. You don't want your kids to see you like that. But you get to that stage where you're like, 'Is this it? Am I going to feel this sad forever?'
"I don't think I'll be in that dark, dark place again. Because - touch wood - you kind of know how to hack yourself out of it.
"But who knows? You're just one carpet slip away."
Wynne, who turned 50 in January, now raises awareness of mental health on air and through his social media platforms.
He recently posted a photograph of himself with his medication, writing: 'Let's be proud to be living with mental health and winning'.
He was asked by Richard: "You've got an incredible strength, talking about it quite pragmatically. How have you got to that place, if you don't mind me asking?"
Wynne replied: "Living with depression is such a strange thing.
"It's a long journey from trying to hide your depression to being on [social media] going 'Here's my Citalopram, and here's my Pregabalin'. I take these every day to kind of help keep me 'normal'.
"When I'm on the tablets... the highs maybe aren't as high, but the lows aren't as low. And for me, it's a trade-off."
The radio presenter said that although he still has "terrible days", he has learned to see his depression and anxiety as a "strength".
He added: "I do my show every day for three hours - I'm company to people for three hours - so my job is to lift their spirits. And I know what it's like to be depressed. So that is my strength. I have to embrace my depression.
"People write to me all the time - and men write to me a lot. Men write to me and say, 'I'm 55, I'm living on my own, I'm depressed'. And you think - these people wouldn't be writing to me if I didn't have depression and anxiety. Because I wouldn't be having this connection with them.
"People saying 'I wouldn't have got through the last two years without listening to you on the radio every day' - people are lonely. People genuinely are lonely. You could be in a house looking after five kids as a mother, and you can be lonely."
In the same documentary, Welsh athlete Non Evans MBE spoke publicly for the first time about her mental health battle during lockdown, when she was warned she could end up in jail or dead.
If you are affected by any of the issues in this article or in the programme, there is a list of places you can contact for support on ITV’s mental health resources webpage: itv.com/advice
You can watch Richard Parks: Climbing out of Lockdown here.