He’s the cheeky chappie who cheers up our day with a massive smile on This Morning but behind that facade Matt Johnson has been hiding a secret battle with depression that plagued most of his 20s.
The Welsh TV presenter recently opened up about the lowest time in his life, when depression gripped him and he was relying on alcohol to help him through the day.
At one point things seemed so hopeless for Matt, when he was out of work and struggling for money, that he considered suicide. But the TV host saw the light and managed to pull himself back from the brink.
Today Matt joined This Morning to open up initially about the illness during a magazine interview, which has led to widespread coverage of his story.
“It is a part of my life I needed to share. I’m an ambassador for Mind, the mental health charity, and people kept asking me why. And I had to come clean. I’d have been a massive hypocrite if I hadn’t come clean, I’m encouraging people to talk about their mental health problems, and if I didn’t [talk about it] who will?
“[The magazine article] was probably the most cathartic experience I ever went thorough, because I never had therapy and I never went to see anybody to talk about it.”
The TV host added: “We want to smash this stigma to bits. Mental health is such a big spectrum of different illnesses. For me it was a case of, in my 20s, before This Morning and all this happened for me, I was depressed, I was very down and I let things get out of control.”
Speaking about the darkest time in his life and how it all began, Matt explained: “There are probably lots of reasons. I was in an accident in my early 20s where I shattered my cheekbone and broke my jaw and my nose and it was quite a worrying experience for me, I was scared for the first time in my life.
“I thought I was invincible, we’ve all been there in our 20s going for it. I was in a band, I was a party boy... and it shattered me back down to earth, it really brought me down. And I didn’t recover because I locked it up.”
Matt lost work as he found it hard to get up in the morning and money issues became a worry, all having a knock-on effect on his self-confidence, leading to a very bleak time in his life.
“My girlfriend at the time, [fellow TV presenter] Alex [Jones] was the only person, and I depended so much on her. And I didn’t want to spoil anybody’s fun, I wanted to go out there and have these holidays and do all these things, buy stuff. I was buying superficial things to make me happy.”
Eventually, Matt’s illness led to problems in his relationship with Alex.
“It was a major factor, we were together for nearly six years and for four years of that I was in the midst of this horrible dark cloud, and it was pressure on us a lot of the time. I was struggling to catch up. I got off the world essentially, I hid away and buried my head in the sand and it spiralled out of control to a point where we did break up and it was a major factor, and then it got worse. It got really dark.”
Matt continued: “It got very dark it turned to booze alcohol which i think a lot of people do... I would drink a hell of a lot and spend a lot of time on my own.
“I would drink a couple of bottles of whisky a day.”
Despite being plagued by these feelings, even at this point Matt was still not fully aware he was suffering from a mental illness.
The turning point for him came when his depression became so bad that he considered jumping to his death.
“That was the crunch moment for me. You have suicidal thoughts throughout, but you never really think about it until you’re faced with that moment of, ‘You’ve got two choices here’.”
Matt realised how bad his depression had become and consciously made the decision at that point to turn his life around and ‘get life back on track’.
Now he uses exercise and projects that have in the past included learning to drive and training for a marathon as way to help himself – and admits little things like a crisp sandwich make him ‘really happy’.
Listen to Matt talk about his battle with depression and how he deals with it in the video above.
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