CANBERRA, Australia: Elite athlete and Guinness Book record holder for the world’s strongest man also dubbed Australia’s strongest man, Grant Edwards, confessed on World Mental Health Day that he contemplated and attempted suicide in the past.
The former Australian Federal Police officer spoke about his struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.
The veteran was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety at age 7, but moved on to excel academically as well as career-wise.
“I took up powerlifting in 1994 as a stress reliever and in 1995, was pleasantly surprised to win the NSW title and place second at Nationals,” he shared.
“In 1997, I was declared Australia’s strongest man. I could single-handedly pull a 201-tonne steam train,” he said.
Grant spent decades protecting vulnerable people around the world and served as a security advisor to many countries.
“I, like many others, was very concerned with the stigma. People knew me as the strong guy. I was defined by that.”
“I couldn’t understand why I had these things going on that I couldn’t fix, so I denied it,” he explained.
He revealed that he felt so mentally weak that he tried to kill himself, survived and then finally broke down, “I sat under a tree and, probably for the first time or second time in my life, I cried. I said, ‘I can’t keep doing this. There is something wrong’.”
The veteran said he went on to talk to eight psychologists over the years to finally find the one he could trust.
“I think we need to know that help isn’t just in the form of someone with a degree on the wall, speaking to someone who we can trust, often it is just one person that we really need to understand us to give us that platform, not everyone has that one person nor will you find that person on one go,” he emphasized.
He has been motivating people for the last four years to go on and share their story with someone and to not live in silence in fear of stigma attached to bad mental health.
“We are all on a spectrum. We all have anxiety, we all have depression, it is just can we cope with it and manage it enough so that we can live, and thrive, and function?” he asked.
“It is the global warming of the health industry, we have to act.”
So far, the Morrison government has allocated $736.6 million in funds to be spent over seven years to improve overall mental health of Australians.
The government aspires to meet the ‘zero suicide goal’ as the ‘death by intentional self-harm’ rate soared by 30% during 2009-2018.