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Tyson Fury health: Boxing star on his turbulent health – ‘I have been unwell all my life’

The two-time world heavyweight champion, who is also known as The Gypsy King famously took a three-year hiatus from the sport due to struggling with depression. But with this week being Men’s Health Week, we take a look at all that Fury and his wife Paris have discussed about his mental health. Back in October 2021, Fury gave an interview where he said that retirement was his biggest challenge as he went from a hectic work schedule to nothing in a small amount of time. “That’s when the biggest fight started. You are not going to the gym every day, you are not the same person. Something flips inside, you get upset very, very quickly and you can be not a very nice person to be around,” Fury is reported saying.

However, for outsiders, it was when Fury was embroiled in a dispute with UK Anti-Doping that took more than two years to settle after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug back in 2015.

From there Fury spiraled into a depression and started to use recreational drugs and binge drinking, meaning he also gained a substantial amount of weight.

For his wife Paris, whom he married in 2008, the years before Fury was diagnosed with bipolar were the hardest. During an appearance on Loose Women she revealed that she thought her husband was “crazy” and did not understand his mental health condition.

She said: “It got to breaking point in our home, we struggled very hard with it, Tyson struggled, and as the person behind the scenes, I was the only one there on a daily basis trying to pick up the pieces every time he had a breakdown.

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“It was crucial at the time that we were together, because otherwise I think he would have gone over the edge completely.

“We have been together for 15 years and he was always up and down, I think that was a sign of his bipolar, and we never knew anything about mental health, I thought, ‘Stop it, don’t cry, what are you moping for’.

“And now I see it, and really think it’s such a big thing in the world, and people have opened up avenues so people can understand it more.”

Admitting that at times Fury’s mental health trouble has subsequently affected her own, Paris has stood by him for more than 15-years, a fact that Fury himself is grateful for as he revealed at his lowest points he failed to care for his wife of children .

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Speaking from a personal point of view, Fury said: “Before I had all the diagnosis I would just be going out drinking, taking drugs, staying out for days on end.

“People won’t understand this but I didn’t care about my family when I was at my lowest. I just didn’t want to live anymore. I’m so happy that I got mentally well again, and I went to seek medical advice.

“I think the mental health problems are bigger than all of it,” he continued. “Because it doesn’t care who you are. I have been unwell all my life. I didn’t know what it was.

“I remember having anxious feelings and being left behind. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way as a kid. And all the way growing up as a young teenager, a young adult. Some days I felt like I didn’t want to live anymore but I thought that was normal. But clearly it’s not. I believe you can never get over mental health never. But you can learn to maintain it.”

Bipolar disorder is defined by the NHS as a mental health condition that affects an individual’s moods. A person may “swing” from one mood of mania and depression in a relatively short space of time, experiencing polar opposite symptoms.

Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer). When experiencing depression, individuals may feel sad, hopeless or irritable, lacking any energy they have to do the activities they usually enjoy. On the other hand, when experiencing mania they may feel elated, happy or overjoyed and have so much energy.

Between episodes of depression and mania, individuals may sometimes have periods where they have a “normal” mood. However, patterns of behavior and mood are not always the same, and some people may experience the following:

  • Rapid cycling – where a person with bipolar disorder repeatedly swings from a high to a low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between
  • Mixed state – where a person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together; for example, overactivity with a depressed mood.

If you or someone you know has mood swings that last a long time but are not severe enough to be classified as bipolar disorder, they may be diagnosed with a mild form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia.

Bipolar disorder can cause severe and damaging effects on an individual’s life, but there are treatments available to help individuals control the effects of an episode and live as normally as possible. These commonly include medication, talking therapy and lifestyle changes.

Medications known as mood stabilizers can be used to prevent episodes of both mania and depression and talking therapy can be used in conjunction to help individuals talk about how they can improve their relationships. Specific lifestyle advice can include individuals doing regular exercise, improving their diet and getting more sleep.

Sharing his harrowing yet honest battle with mental health so publicly, Fury has always encouraged others who might be struggling to seek help and support for themselves. I have finished by saying: “A lot of people are in trouble. When they are in trouble they are scared, they won’t let anybody know they are going through it because people can be very vicious, very nasty. Sometimes you cry. You can’t suss it out.

“That’s why it’s good to chat and get it off your plate and explain to people. Some people didn’t really understand about the way I felt, schizophrenic, manic. Anything could make you manic, tensing up. Nice to make people realize. Please don’t feel bad, come to someone, talk to someone.”

For confidential mental health support, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone) or email jo@samaritans.org.

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