The Sunday Brunch mainstay, 54, on depression, self-help and why you shouldn’t take advice from a TV presenter.
What made you set up your new online magazine?
It started with my podcast, Dear Lovejoy, which I launched with a friend. I wanted to focus on self-help because I’ve had a lot of depression and read every self-help book there is.
I was an agony uncle and spoke to experts. I then changed it to the Lovejoy Hour, talking about sleep, diet and fitness, which people really enjoyed.
I’ve done 290 podcasts now and it’s a podcast, a wellness show and an online magazine where every Monday you can read about anything from artificial protein to predicting the future with a futurologist, as well as depression and celebrity.
How did your depression manifest itself?
In deep sadness, which ended up becoming so overwhelming I couldn’t get out of bed. The human body is good at forgetting the trauma so all I can remember is that it’s a pain I can’t describe, and everything being very dark.
The second time I got it, I read a book by Matt Haig called Reasons To Stay Alive and I realized I had anxiety alongside the depression. I had no idea what it was until then.
If you get pain in your arm, your arm’s not working. When you get depression, your life is not working and you have to work out why. I’ve done podcasts with all sorts of brain surgeons and psychiatrists, and no one really knows what depression is.
You read your way out of it rather than take medication.
I thought there had to be a reason for it and there must be other people who have theories on depression. It’s becoming more prolific in society, I think because society is the cause of depression. We can see it being played out on smartphones and streaming services.
Desire is out of control and we never have a chance to calm down. Kids don’t know a time like we did, where we’d just sit looking out the window being bored. Actually, that’s kind of meditation. We make life very complicated.
Did your co-presenter, Simon Rimmer, notice you weren’t feeling great?
My first initial really bad spell of depression happened while working on Something For The Weekend 16 years ago but I was too scared to tell anyone because I thought no one would want to work with a guy who’s depressed, so I spent a lot of my time hide it It’s completely flipped around in the last 16 years and everyone talks about it now.
Sunday Brunch was 10 last month. Can you believe that?
I’ve been on TV at the weekend now for 26 years and it’s such a long time that
I feel like I’m part of viewers’ families. People think they know me. The show has evolved over 10 years and the pandemic helped it go into a new stage where we have a lot of Zoom callers. It’s a lovely place to work and the guests love doing it.
What’s been your most helpful self-help book?
Megan Hine’s Mind Of A Survivor changed my life. She works with Bear Grylls and has survival expertise. She writes about how you have to accept the situation you’re in because nature doesn’t care whether you’re a man or a woman, rich, poor, old or young. You can’t blame anyone – acceptance is key.
I would blame everyone and ruminate constantly. Now I take responsibility. I’m going to write about one book a week that’s changed me in my online magazine.
I’ve been in such a bad way that I can’t listen to the radio, watch TV or listen to music. I just managed to drag myself out of bed to do the TV shows at the weekend and go back to bed again.
But there’s something cathartic about reading. It helps you on that journey to get out of your state of mind. Plus it’s on your terms – no one is preaching at you.
Have you tried any self-help techniques yourself?
I do a lot of experiments on myself and enjoy it. I can’t tell you how many diets I’ve done. I’ve done the carnivore diet, which is pure meat, and after two weeks it felt mentally exhausting. I’ve done the plant-based diet, vegetarian diets, intermittent fasting. I put myself on a psilocybin trial, which is magic mushrooms.
I put myself on a clinical diet trial as well where they told me what to eat for a while and then measured my bloods, faeces and saliva.
How important is it for men to reach out for help?
Really important. I’ve had a couple of shrinks and the first one was recommended by my physio because he could see I was numb.
The person he recommended dealt with sportspeople as well and, in my stupid man’s mind, it made me think, ‘if international sportspeople think he’s good enough, then he must be for me.’ I spent the first session curled up in a chair crying because someone was listening to me without judgment.
Men do struggle with the idea of going to see someone because it feels weak, but it’s not. Most of the advice on the site comes from experts and it’s for everyone, not just men. I’m sure I’ll throw my two pennies’ worth in but taking advice off a TV presenter is not a great thing to do.
To read Tim Lovejoy’s online magazine, visit his website.
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