I’m not a big fan of reality television, but I’m immensely proud of Iain Lee for being so vulnerable on the most public arena.
Iain Lee was a comedy childhood hero of mine, watching RI:SE in the morning was part of my teenage school routine. I was fond of his blunt sarcastic sense of humour, and his love of video games that constantly bubbled to the surface. He’d look to push the boundaries of what was acceptable to say on morning television, especially when he knew it was due to be cancelled.
What I didn’t realise was that behind his television personality was a man struggling with depression and social anxiety. I only found this out after listening to an interview with Iain by Adam Buxton, where we talks openly about his struggle with depression then and now. It’s an excellent chat.
You can listen to this episode here:
This isn’t the first time Iain has talked about mental health, writing about it on his website in 2015:
Ah, the old ‘pull your socks’ up brigade. If only it were that simple. I’d love to pull my socks up and get on with things. Ignore this little voice in my head that tells me I am worthless and no one likes me and actually I only make things worse for people. Some days I can. Some days it’s just too loud. And sure, my life is actually pretty good. I have a good career, financially I’m OK, so what have I got to worry about?
And that’s the thing. Depression, for me anyway, isn’t always about what’s going on in the external world. Sometimes it is. My dad dying, my mum being ill, being hauled over the coals for something I said or did at work — they can all have an effect. But it tends to be either really small things or simply nothing that sends me over the edge. Jesus, I found an ink stain on my favourite coat today and I could feel the well of blackness starting to overflow within me. It was insane.
Iain entered the jungle without any armour
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 40, and not enough men feel brave enough to reach out and talk about it openly. There’s still a big stigma around mental health.
Iain did the bravest thing, openly be himself. He refused to act tough to blend in with the group. He set a great example for all young men out there; don’t be afraid to be yourself, don’t hide your feelings by acting tough. He’s ten times stronger than the “lads” group of wannabe alpha-males that excluded and bullied him.
Iain Lee's appearance has done more for the general public than "I'm a Celebrity…" has done in it's entire history. If you haven't seen it, it's a public-humiliation-celebrity-gross-out show, which is a popular distraction in the UK.
By walking into the jungle as himself, and talking and struggling openly with his mental health issues, he's brought these issues into the public awareness. All at once, there are articles about dealing with depression and anxiety in The Sun, The Mirror, and The Daily Mail.
Iain gained a huge fanbase on social media, who condemned the bullying behaviour of his fellow celebrities in the jungle, including alpha-man-child Amir Khan.
'Playing the victim' is a bully phrase. People saying it about my friend and great man Iain Lee can fuck off. You have no idea.— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) December 8, 2017
I wonder how many people will now catch themselves, and stop to think about the troubles people around them are dealing with before judging them.
Thank you Iain, you did a brave and wonderful thing.