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Former Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton this morning revealed to Lorraine Kelly that her experience with depression has proven so difficult to deal with as she has been forced to let it naturally 'run its course'.
Speaking to the popular presenter, she explained that she’d had severe mental health issues for a while, but at first, found her struggles tough to come to terms with.
Victoria revealed, “I think it was very difficult for me to be patient with myself, as I saw myself as a very capable individual and always thought, ‘I can do this’.
“But it doesn’t matter how hard you push, sometimes you’ve just got to let it run its course, and for me I found that really hard.’
The former Olympic cyclist also revealed that she was determined to take on as many physical challenges as she could, including her most recent, on SAS: Who Dares Wins, a gruelling endurance show, to prove she was still strong and capable.
She told Lorraine, “I kept finding ways to keep myself active, taking up new sports I went surfing for example, and taking on challenges like this [SAS: Who Dares Wins].”
“I came out the other side. I thought, you know, I can do this, I have still got the strength and ability.”
In the past, the 38-year-old has been open about her battle with depression, which reared their head after she was left unable to climb Mount Everest due to the effects of oxygen deprivation.
Victoria was unable to complete her journey up Everest after showing signs of hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that can commonly trigger depression.
In an emotional interview months after, Victoria admitted that she stockpiled drugs and considered taking her own life after struggling with her mental health. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, she confessed, “Everything I took made me feel less like myself. There were mornings I woke up and I thought ‘I don’t want to see the end of the day’.
“I had accumulated one-and-half times the dose of drugs to kill myself. And I had it there, in front of me, and I knew how much it would take. And how long I would have to be left for it definitely to work. It wasn’t even like I was really upset about it. I just felt numb.”
Reflecting on how she felt at the time, Victoria continued, “I felt horribly guilty for even considering it.
“I said to my mum, ‘Please would you forgive me?’ Obviously, it was very upsetting for her to hear that. But I really wanted my family to be able to forgive me. Because… I wouldn’t do it to hurt them on purpose. You just can’t understand how much I was suffering on the inside.”
The former cycling world champion went on to reveal that she eventually sought help with former British Cycling psychiatrist Steve Peters, after suffering a panic attack.
“I’m so grateful that he [Steve] picked up. Because I don’t think I would be here if he hadn’t.”
Victoria, who recently split from her husband Scott, went on share that she felt she turned a corner after a recent surfing trip to Costa Rica – despite the fact that her family didn’t like the idea of her going alone.
She said, “Since November I have felt much better. I’ve turned a corner. That doesn’t mean I won’t be more cautious in the future, if I start to feel similar symptoms. But I feel I’d be better prepared at least.”
If you are struggling with depression, you can call the Samaritans helpline on 116 123 24 hours a day.