Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has shared an emotional blog post in which he opens up about his battle with mental health issues before the death of his wife Gemma after they suffered a miscarriage.
Writing on his blog A Grief Shared, the broadcaster and former Blue Peter presenter wrote that he had first faced depression and anxiety after Gemma had miscarried what would have been their second child. Gemma passed away in November, three days after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
“Until this point I had never had depression,” he wrote. “I didn’t really know what it was, I thought it was something they labelled people when they felt a bit down. As the days and weeks went on after Gemma’s miscarriage I became more and more detached from what was going on around us. I struggled to be around close friends.”
He says that he was able to continue to present football on Sky after being placed on a course of anti-depressants by his doctor, adding that “live TV gave me some kind of temporary release from how I was really feeling”. But the depression gave way to intense anxiety which began to bleed into his work life – and he could only find solace in his wife.
He then goes on to detail her brief battle with cancer: she was diagnosed with blood cancer in November last year, and passed away three days later.
The 45-year-old has previously said that he is “merely surviving” and is struggling to sleep following his wife’s death, and says he is not sure whether he can continue to work as a presenter.
However, he explained that he wrote the blog in order for others to understand that they do not have to “suffer in silence”, and that he wished he had been more open with his mental health before.
“Why write this? Why when I should be grieving talk about this? I am grieving; it’s the most painful, brutal and lonely experience I have ever been through,” he wrote. “But I know from hearing the stories of others, is that what I have been through is the life narrative for so many, and in particular men, but us men are rubbish at even beginning to whisper those fears and articulate what is actually an illness.”
“For those reading this who understand – don’t suffer in silence. Like me, remember, you didn’t choose to be this way. Don’t sit on and bury the uncomfortable murmurings of mental illness – talk. Talk to your other half. Talk to those friends you trust, try and open your heart and your mind and allow the soothing balm of openness to begin to heal. Compared to others my experience is limited but this is all I can offer.”
Others on Twitter have praised Thomas for sharing his story, with fellow presenter Gary Lineker saying, “I hope sharing such an emotive and powerful story helps you. It will most certainly help others.”
Such a brave, honest, powerful piece of writing Simon. This will be so helpful for many and sharing can only be good for you too. Thinking of you and Ethan and hope half term brings some good times together.