Kelly Holmes on mental health and happiness: ‘I’ve been to the lowest point and the highest’

Since retiring, the athlete has opened up about self-harming. She talks about winning double gold, losing her mother – and her new mental health podcast

Kelly Holmes has always liked to surprise. So when the double Olympic gold medallist decided to have a crack at podcasting, she gave sport a miss and focused on mental health. The result is a compelling 11-part series in which she interviews celebrities about a time they reached their nadir and their route to recovery. Alastair Campbell plays his bagpipes in his bathroom as he discusses his psychotic breakdown, Philip Pullman reads from the 400-year-old The Anatomy of Melancholy and tells her he cried nonstop for months in his 20s and Davina McCall takes Holmes to the gym and talks about the heroin addiction that almost destroyed her.

Despite the bleak subject matter, Holmes brings infectious laughter, empathy and an easy manner to the interviews. She knows when to stay silent as her guests tell their desperately moving stories, occasionally intervening to remind us that she has also had terrible lows. As Campbell describes what it is like to be suicidal, Holmes adds quietly: “I’ve been there, where I look in the mirror and I don’t want to be here.”

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