Gypsy King Tyson Fury is honest about his personal battles.
He fell into an astonishing low after winning the world heavyweight titles and a shocking suicide bid brought his crisis to a climax.
But, in week two of the serialisation of his astonishing new book, The Furious Method, the champ tells how he beat his demons and of the kids he helps overcome mental health crises.
One day in June 2016, behind the wheel of my new red Ferrari, I thought I could switch off the pain and end it for good. I sped towards the side of a motorway bridge at 160mph.
At the very last moment a voice inside my head said: “Think about your kids, Tyson, your boys and girls growing up without a father.”
And I thank God that I escaped the jaws of despair. What stirred within me seconds before potential death was the very essence of life; I didn’t want to give up.
It was this small glimmer of light in the darkness that would start me on my comeback.
If you have experienced suicidal thoughts I urge you to seek professional help immediately so that you can start your comeback too.
Deciding to carry on living and not hit that bridge at the last second was where I found my “why” again: It was my family.
I realised how precious they were to me, what a gift life is and that it should never be squandered. Every day is a blessing and if we could only realise it, we have the freedom to achieve anything we want. The only thing standing in our way is ourselves.
My business is boxing. I love it and I know nothing else. After my breakdown, I decided it was time to return to work.
Only now I had a different engine powering me, a different “why”. It wasn’t for the pomp and glory this time.
Depression can make life seem worse than it is and in my mind, I didn’t feel I had anything to live for.
Buying a Ferrari and having a few million in the bank should have been more fun than it was, but there was no substance to it. Nothing was of value. I wanted an appointment with the reaper and, fed up sitting in death’s waiting room, I took matters into my own hands to speed up the process.
I saw the therapist once a week. Even for me, I did a lot of talking on those Fridays!
I was initially sceptical, but it was a really positive experience. I’ve never opened up like that to a stranger. It was like letting poison out of a wound and refreshing to be listened to and understood by someone who knew exactly what I was going through. Just by sharing my weaknesses I loosened the hold that this horrible demon of depression had on me all my life.
The sooner you get help, the sooner you can reclaim your life.
To keep you in check and get you back on track when you slip, you also need your cornermen and women – trusted friends or family members who keep you balanced.
From now on I wanted to use my celebrity to attract attention to mental health issues. If I was going to preach about it, I needed to show the world I was a credible and active advocate and recovery was possible.
It was time to walk the walk.
Since then, I’m known for speaking out about mental health and it’s not unusual to get a visit from someone who is struggling – even in the middle of the night.
I was a bit freaked out but also humbled when, in December 2019, a lad in his 20s knocked on our door before dawn. He was having suicidal thoughts and wanted to speak to me before he did anything.
I took him on a three-mile run and we talked things over, about how he was feeling. He felt better for it and I recommended he get professional help immediately.
He left in a much better mood and I think he began the long journey of managing his depression.
When I had my first panic attack, I went to A&E convinced I was dying from a cardiac arrest. It was terrifying. I told the nurse I thought I had been drugged with anthrax. My whole body was wracked with terror; I didn’t know what was happening. As the saying goes, the greatest fear is fear itself.
The unknown is more terrifying than the known and I was falling down a very frightening rabbit hole of madness.
I hope to God I never have another of those mental assaults but at least if I do, I’ll know what’s happening. Knowledge really is power.
If you have mental health problems in the Travellers community you’re not seen as a man. My father had depression.
He told me: “I hid it, so I’d not look weak. The pressure of being depressed as a man with a family was almost too much. I used to take myself to a heavy bag in the shed, which I’d hammer for an hour.
“Then I’d go for a run, or walk the dog. I’d tell myself I didn’t want to feel like this and fix a smile to my face.”
Like me, Dad used exercise to ease his mind. He told me his dad used to suffer from depression. My grandad could read my dad like a book. He’d say, “Sit down, have a cup of tea, John”.
They’d talk about old times and Dad would leave 10 minutes later with a smile, feeling better.
These days, I no longer fear curveballs. I face them head on.
I consider it as something to challenge me, make me grow and ask myself, “What can I learn from this?”
Ever since I’ve taken up the mantle for shining a light on mental health problems, all the glittery stuff – Ferraris, Rolexes – feel redundant, silly and a load of b******s. Mind, there’s a lot to be said for owning a ’90s Mini coupe… if only I could get in it. I should have gone to Specsavers.
- Extracted from The Furious Method: Transform Your Body, Mind and Goals by Tyson Fury (Century £20) published Thursday. © Tyson Fury 2020.
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