Kelly Holmes keen to keep speaking out
KELLY Holmes will forever be remembered for winning two gold medals at the 2004 Olympics.
But, just 12 months before her heroic displays, the middle distance star was struggling like never before.
“I had a massive breakdown in 2003 and became what they call a self-harmer,” Holmes told Run Free.
“I was up and down with anxiety, depression and self harming but I learnt how to deal with my environment and knowing what was happening.”
Holmes somehow brushed aside those difficulties to win a silver medal in the 800 metres at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
And Holmes took great heart from working her way onto the rostrum.
“When I was at my lowest I was at the bottom of the bottom and I just wanted to jump in a hole but I was still running at a World Championships and winning a silver medal,” said Holmes.
“Half of me had given up but after going through that period I knew I could win in Athens.”
That proved to be the case as well as Holmes achieved sporting immortality by winning both the 800m and 1500m in quick succession.
“For me it wasn’t a surprise I won a gold medal because I always knew I could but it was more of a surprise it actually happened,” sai Holmes.
“I never dreamed of winning two gold medals but I was in the best shape of my life and for once I didn’t get injured.”
Holmes’ achievements also saw her voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
But she opted to retire just a year later and soon went public with her mental health issues in her autobiography.
“When I wrote that it was hard and it was hard-hitting for everyone I think,” said Holmes.
“It was 2005 and we weren’t in the same place we are now and I was on the front pages of the newspapers.”
However, Holmes has continued to speak openly about her issues.
“I’m very open about it now because I think the work-place have to support people through these difficult times,” said Holmes.
“The more you’re open about it the more it becomes the normality but every single person will know someone who will have tough periods or they will go through it themselves.
“We have to know how to deal with it and how to support people too.”
And Holmes has also learnt how to cope with her own difficulties.
“I had a big change in 2017 when my mum passed away,” said Holmes.
“She was only 17 years older than me and we had a close relationship. “That broke me and that was the last time I self harmed.
“I knew it wasn’t going to bring her back and it wasn’t helping me.
“I made a conscious decision to learn what you need to do to handle certain situations.
“You have to stop before that breaking point and learn.”
And Holmes has also learnt how to tackle her demons.
“I always made sure I spoke to friends and family whenever I felt low and got out exercising as well,” said Holmes, 50.
“Those two things are proven to help anyone who is suffering with any kind of mental health problem.”