Sky Sports presenter Simon Thomas has written a lengthy and heartfelt blog post in which he opens up on his battle with depression. He did so on his personal website, called agriefshared.com which he started months after the tragic death of his wife Gemma, who died after a brief battle with blood cancer in November.
In the latest post, entitled My Secret Battle, Thomas details a history of panic attacks, and reveals that he considered taking his own life after his wife had a miscarriage, eight months into a long process of IVF.
Thomas recovered from that time through a long process of counselling, leaning heavily on the support of his wife Gemma. She remained a rock of support during subsequent panic attacks, citing one before a Premier League broadcast of Manchester United/Tottenham at Old Trafford on October 28th in which he was seized by panic ahead of the broadcast.
I could feel a sense of panic overcoming me. Never before had I felt like this. I made my excuses – last minute trip to the loo and all that – and headed to the disabled loo. At least there I would be alone. As I sunk to the floor I began to cry, uncontrollably, and began to breathe quicker and quicker. In a small part of my mind the cry was ‘what the hell is wrong with me’, but the bigger part was gripped by fear. All I could do at that moment was grab my phone and ring the only person who would truly understand. That person was my rock – my wife Gemma.
That, however, was the last time Thomas has worked for Sky. He had another panic attack at home five days later, and subsequently took time off. Thomas praises Sky for being so understanding. A phone call on November 20th from his boss Gary, however, went unreturned as Thomas found himself dealing with "the worst news of my life". Gemma had been diagnosed with blood cancer. She died three days later.
Thomas ends by explaining why he has written the post.
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. 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...
...Now I find myself confused and fearful. I’m grieving my dear wife but at times also questioning where on earth I’m at with all the stuff I had battled with before. I have no idea where I’m at or how I’ll get through this – but all I know is this, as a life long Christian, I don’t pretend to have the answers but what I do have is hope. An eternal hope...
...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.
Read the full post here.