In this entry, Tregs opens up about his own anxiety and depression and explains why so many men feel under pressure.
So I remember literally lying on the floor and I had pins and needles and I thought, “This is it. I’m going to die. I am going to die.”
Coach Tregs: Obviously, we all know what happened this week. I was in the gym on Monday, news came on, Keith Flint’s passed away, lead singer the Prodigy, one of my absolute idols growing up. When you think about it, the Prodigy growing up, we’re all guys, I’m 40 now. A lot of my friends are late 30s, early 40s. Let’s be fair. The Prodigy would’ve played some kind of part in … It will remind you of times in your life growing up. I don’t think I’ve ever ran in a half marathon without having Prodigy soundtrack on. I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a training run without having the Prodigy soundtrack on in my trusty little blue iPod Shuffle.
I remember having some of my most euphoric moments listening to the Prodigy. I was actually at Knebworth in 1996. I was 17. I didn’t have any drink in me that day, hadn’t discovered other stuff, and I remember I was there to see Oasis. I got split up from my girlfriend at the time, and ended up in the front row like. When the Prodigy come out, it was just incredible. I’d never, ever been at a gig, let alone anything like that, your feet coming off the floor. Just incredible. I’ll never, ever forget it. It just sort of stayed with me forever.
Of course, when you hear he passed away, you think, “49. Could it be a heart attack? He comes from the rave scene. He’s obviously dabbled in drugs and things like that.” You make assumptions. We all do. And then you read that it’s suicide. I’ve got to be honest, guys, it’s really stirred up some emotions this week. One of my best friends, Mark Ramskill, he took his own life seven years ago, actually, probably the anniversary of that was about two weeks ago. And it really stirred up some emotions.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on Keith and just watching old clips of the Prodigy, but they’d literally just come back off tour. They’d literally just come back off tour from Auckland. Yeah, he was running in a park run in Chelmsford like pretty much near where we’ve got a bootcamp in Essex on the weekend. And from what I’ve read, he didn’t have any kids but he’d split with his wife, who is … She is a Japanese international DJ, and she’d been DJing away, and he’d have to put his house on the market. Apparently, he loved his house. He’s big into equestrian. He’s got dogs and likes the countryside and all that, and took his own life over the weekend.
You just think to yourself, people always think that, they see someone like him and he’s loved all over the world, the adulation. Obviously doesn’t have any money worries, a net worth of 15 million. Probably gets such a buzz being onstage and being part of an amazing, iconic band. But yet, to go to that level and do that, and it’s just … It is frightening. It stirred up quite a lot of emotions this week for me. I put a post up earlier, and just had quite a lot of people commented and stuff like that.
I suffered really badly, and I’ve spoken about this, with depression and anxiety in my late 20s. I partied quite a lot in my young years. I was a nightclub promoter and a bit of a raver and I partied a lot, and I think that may have had something to do with it. There was other issues there which I won’t go into, and I ended up getting an inner ear problem, and I had these balance issues, and it just led to anxiety, panic attacks.
I’ll never forget my first panic attack. I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack, like literally thought I was going to die. I was a courier at the time, drove a van for a living, and I’d been getting these hot flushes for days and days and days, and I pulled up to do a delivery a S.A. Brain’s in Lanisham, which was a local brewery, and as I walked in I could just feel overcome, overcome, overcome. I could feel this anxiety and this tension building on me, and the medic there just laid me down. I thought, “I’m going to die. I’m going to die. I am going to die now,” and they rang an ambulance and everything. I was 27 and I had pins and needles creeping up my whole body, up my whole body. And in the end, I was just sort of locked out.
Coach Tregs: So I remember literally lying on the floor and I had pins and needles and I thought, “This is it. I’m going to die. I am going to die.” And paramedics came in, they took one look at me, and I was literally just on the floor. And they said, “Oh, no. You’re fine, mate. You’re not having a heart attack. If you were, you’d be gray. You’d be gray. You’ve got color in your cheeks. You’re having a panic attack,” and they picked me up and they walked me off and from that time I had some pretty severe anxiety and depression to the point that I didn’t want to leave the house at some stage in my late 20s. I didn’t want to leave the house.
Thankfully, my partner at the time, she’s very understanding to a point … It actually split the relationship up in the end. But she was very understanding to a point she used to take me out for long walks, talk to me, and I think that changing my lifestyle around really helped. So sometime after that, I decided to get into the health and fitness industry, mainly because I’d struggled with my weight all my life. A lot of my anxiety and depression I think stemmed from that, as well as maybe partying in my younger years and a few other things.
So when I gave myself more to sort of health and fitness, that was when it helped. This is why I’m such a big advocate of things like getting outdoors, doing more exercise, eating better, all these things are actually all the best antidepressants. I remember … and I’m being completely honest about this. I remember probably at the age of 27 a couple of mornings when I woke up I was disappointed to wake up. That was the lowest I’d been.
I don’t like to talk about it a lot, but that was the lowest I’d been, and I was just so anxious about everything. I was scared to go out, and I remember at one stage lying on the floor of my flat at the time in the city center and literally thinking, “This is as low as it can get. I’ve hit the bottom now, so the only way’s up. I’ve hit the bottom.” I remember during that time I had lots of support, people helping me out, but it’s such a … People can’t see the disease. They can’t see what anxiety and depression looks like. Telling you to pull yourself together, that doesn’t do it.
I saw a great thing the other day, because I realized that that’s it. It’s not going to get any worse. I remember my cousin telling me at the time, “Just take it a day at the time,” and she quoted Winston Churchill, and she said, “When in hell, carry on.” So if you’re going through hell, just carry on. Actually, that quote really, really helped me during that time. When in hell, just carry on. I remember just taking little action steps, just like getting outdoors, going for walks, talking to people. That really helped. Slowly but surely, I come out of it.
But that is not the end of my experience of suicide, depression, things like that. My kids are going to be asking me all kinds of questions afterwards because they wouldn’t have heard about these words. I can safely say having suffered with it in my late 20s for probably about a year to 18 months very badly, thankfully … and I did have antidepressants. They did help me, combined with exercise, combined with improving my lifestyle, helped me get out of it. I can safely say that all throughout my, sort of from 29 onwards I’ve never gotten back to those dark places, obviously. I’m very much convinced that my lifestyle helps. That’s why I’m so big on health and fitness and exercise.
But, I’ve seen it. I lost my best mate to depression, I almost lost another one. I’ve seen and I come into contact with depressed people on a daily basis. Here’s what I find, and I can give you some tips as well. Here’s what I find. Most guys I work with, what keeps them awake at night? It’s the pressure of providing for the family. I can tell you this. I have lost count of the number of times that I have lay awake over the last 10 years thinking, “How am I going to pay this? What about that? When the business has gone tits up to the point that …” And you get up the next day and you pretend everything’s all right, because that’s what we do as blokes, isn’t it? That’s what we do. The amount of times since the kids have come along in the last six and a half years, you go to bed, you shut your eyes, and then you’re awake again because you’re just so concerned about, “How am I going to do this? What about this? What if we can’t do this?”
But here’s one thing I realized, and I still get it. The last sleepless night I had was probably back in January when I had my tax bill and it was higher than expected and I was lying there. And you sort of lie there and you go, “All these problems are still going to be there in the morning. These problems are still going to be there in the morning.” I remember reading this really good quote, and actually, because some of the places your mind goes to when you’re worrying and you’re panicking, you go to places that it’s never going to happen in real life. It’s never going to happen. You wake up and you think, “Christ, where was I last night in my thoughts? That ain’t going to happen. I’m not going to end up on the street.”
But you to go these places. Who agrees? You go to these places when you’re a man and you’ve got that pressure of providing. I’ve got a young family, I’ve got my dad living with me, my partner. We had a tough start with the kids in and out of hospital. So I have counseling because I was just so overwhelmed. I was just so overwhelmed. But you go to a place in the evening or at night when you’re trying to switch off when you’ve got problems and you end up in this … You’re like, “How did I end up here? I’m not going to go homeless. I’m not going to be able to not do this. This is ridiculous.” But do you understand? It seems to be manifested, like it becomes worse at night. It becomes worse in the evening.
I’ve always sort of said to myself when I go to that place, because we’ve all got pressures. It’s like people put all their best bits on social media and people must think, “Oh, Tregs’ got a great business with 30+.” Listen, I earn a living like everyone else. We’ve got battles, struggles every day. It doesn’t matter what you see. Everyone’s got those day-to-day battles and struggles. And the pressure is real. The pressure is real being a bloke.
Here is what has really, really helped me, is talking to people, but also … Guys, not as loud, guys. I put this in a post earlier because we don’t want to always share our problems with our partners. If I’ve come home and I’ve got some issues with work or business or cashflow or anything like that and my missus has had it up to her ears with the kids all day and homework and this and that and the other, she doesn’t need to be burdened with that. I think sometimes that’s the problem, is men don’t want to burden others. They don’t want to burden others. And I think to myself, “Well, she doesn’t need to know about it.” The amount of times that I’ve been panicking like fuck, building this business over the years, but not said anything and just had a pure poker face.
What has really helped me is having a select bunch of guys that I’ve got in a WhatsApp group now that I’ve got just one on one in a group, business partners, friends that you can talk to every day. Not about fitness; about life, relationships, everything. That has been instrumental. And right now, with a lot of my one-to-one clients we have a WhatsApp group and the stuff that people share is … I’m glad they share it with me because they don’t need to be sharing it with their partners and kids and stuff like that because they don’t need to.
And this is not like … I’m not … Everyone has problems. Women, problems. Men, problems. All that. But what I’m saying is when it comes to men, the suicide rates are alarming. They’re absolutely alarming. I lost my best mate to suicide. I’ve seen people attempt it, I’ve talked people round from it, and I see the pressures every day. The pressure is real, men coming in with the weight of the fucking world on their shoulders. And I go through that too. I’ve gone through that a lot since starting my business and having kids, young kids, quickly and having only one income. Don’t get it twisted. We go through that.
Keith Flint, I don’t know. He was found at home, but I don’t know. My business partner and one of my best friends threw himself in front of a train, and I wish I could’ve spoke to him more. But what I’m saying is … Sorry about the background noise, guys … is you have to talk it through. And sometimes, the best person to talk to is another male. I’ll tell you this now, guys. When my kids were very young, I used to hate weekends because I couldn’t escape it. Right now it’s football, it’s everything. What do we do on the weekends, mate? Football, football, football, football, football, football.
The weekends were always tough, and I used to dread them because it would just be a constant battle. And I used to love going into work because that is where I could talk it over with my clients, and my clients are over 30s men, some of them older than me, that have got kids and have been through it. Go and see [inaudible 00:15:55] for a minute.
I now feel that I can pass on that advice, like I’m passing on this advice every day to close friends, business associates, that have got young kids that are in it, telling them, “It does get easier. It does get easier.” Because the sleep deprivation, if you’ve got financial pressures and you’ve got sleep deprivation and you are the provider, that is a fucking massive weight on your shoulders. I don’t care what anyone says. Being a provider is a massive burden on your shoulders. Hey, [inaudible 00:16:25]. It’s a role that I absolutely relish, but it comes with its pressures. And it’s one of the reasons that I make health and fitness such a priority. Just talking to my clients about it when my kids were really young really helped.
Here’s something, going slightly off topic, speaking to a client who might be watching this and he said to me, “I should be going to a meeting,” but he said, “I’m just putting my training before everything at the minute.” And I said, “Good. Your training should be a priority above everything because when you exercise this becomes clear. When you exercise, you can deal with life’s problems.” That’s why I’ve said even more so in the last couple of months I’ve found myself going, “Shit, I haven’t had a rest day. I’ve got to take rest,” because I will jump on a treadmill in between clients at work and just walk on a hill with my headphones in just to clear my head and get ideas.
And I said this to the client. “Don’t feel guilty about prioritizing your health and fitness.” My exercise is prioritized over my clients every day. Every day, my exercise is prioritized over my clients. My missus knows, my kids know they’re going to get a better version of their dad if I’ve exercised. So I prioritize that only because I know what I’ve been through in the past. And whilst I’ve never been to those dark places I went to in my late 20s, I can feel the old head going down if I’ve not exercised. I can feel the cloud starting to come sometimes if I’ve not exercised. Okay? That why it’s such a priority.
Now, I saw a great piece of advice from somebody I’m doing a bit of work with right now called Paul Moore. He said, “When it comes to depression, you can’t think your way out of it.” You can’t think your way out of depression because you have to do something. You have to action it. So in terms of people saying to you, “Get better, get better,” you have to do something. You have to take action. You have to go outside, get in the fresh air, go for a walk, go and talk to somebody, do some burpees, whatever it is. Sign up for a challenge which is going to stress you. You can’t think your way out of it. Does this make sense, guys? Is this making sense? What are you doing, mate? Is this making sense, guys? Let me know if it is.
It’s just a video tonight. I’m not trying to sell anything or anything like that. It’s just musings because it’s really affected me with that guy passing away because he’s one of my heroes. I’ve been playing his tunes all week. And I just want to say to guys if I can give you any advice … Watch out, mate … just talk about it and talk to somebody else similar to you, like another bloke. Because this isn’t being … That little mate does not seem stressed. This isn’t about … It’s not about men’s problems or women’s problems or anything like that. It’s about men will understand it.
And sometimes you don’t want to put your others through it. I don’t want my missus to watch this back because I don’t want her to think, “Oh, shit that’s how he feels.” She knows. She knows sometimes. Like, I’ll say to her, “I’m a bit worried about this,” or whatever. But there’s been times building this business over the years where, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been up to the hilt of my overdraft invested in courses, invested in things, cashflow waiting to come in. No, I don’t, [inaudible 00:19:47]. I don’t, I’m sorry. And I have laid there and not slept a wink all night.
But then, a week later, I’ve managed to pull it all round and be back in credit and everything’s fine. It’s just that’s sometimes what we do as men, we go to the wire in order to provide for our family. It’s like if I try and explain cashflow to somebody who doesn’t have a business. Then it’s like, “What do you mean you haven’t budgeted for that?” It’s like I’ve got a business. It’s not always like that. When you’ve got cashflow issues, that’s nothing to do with your business not being good. That’s just a cashflow problem. Do you see what I mean? So quite often things have happened and I would never even burden my missus with it. Do I want my kids to see that Daddy’s stressed and worried? No, they don’t see that version of me.
But don’t bottle it up. Talk to somebody in the same situation. That’s why I’m so proud right now I’ve got private groups and little WhatsApp groups with a select few where we talk every day and we keep each other going. And I’m talking to guys every day that have got demons with alcohol, they’ve got issues going on with their family, there’s people with ill health in their family, and a couple of people even said in a recent WhatsApp group that this WhatsApp group gets them out of bed in the morning. What is the value in that, in having a small group of like-minded men that you can reach out and you can talk to?
So guys, before I conclude this video … Look at that light just come on there, mate. Look at that light. What’s going on there? I just want to say thank you for all watching, and I hope it resonated. Now John’s going to show you all his Lego and stuff like that. Remember, guys, you don’t always have to let on totally how you’re feeling when you’ve got these little people around because you’ve got to give them the best life and best experience. So talk to somebody else who’s going through it and get some advice, because what’s the most important thing, John?
Coach Tregs: Is it? What is it? Family’s the most important thing in the world. That’s right. Yeah, that’s why I’m so pleased that we can talk it out amongst my clients and we can talk about stuff maybe that they can’t share with others. So, guys, listen. The pressure is real. The pressure is real. And like I said, if any women are watching this, this isn’t like, “Oh, we feel pressure so much more than women.” It’s not. This is a men’s fitness page, and Keith Flint from the Prodigy is an over 30s man who passed away on Monday through depression. It’s very relative right now and I’ve been low in my late 20s.
I’ve seen friends try and do silly things. I’ve seen friends do silly things, and it’s tough. It really is tough, so you have to share. I get that we do have to have a brave face on in front of our family and we have to be macho and all that, but not to everyone. So talk to someone else. Reach out to an old friend tonight. Just get in touch with an old friend and reach out and just ask them how they’re going. Find someone in a similar situation to you, whether it’s in our community, and just get talking because we’re all here to just look after each other and we do understand each other and what everyone’s going through. Okay?
See, look how innocent they are, man. They don’t need to know about what lies ahead when you grow up and how tough it is. Just keep trucking out there, guys, all right? Remember, family’s everything. Go and talk about it. Don’t suffer in silence. Understand that everyone knows what it’s like, the pressures of being a modern man. So just get out there and talk about it guys, and keep trucking. I appreciate you all watching. Take care, guys.