Huw Edwards: BBC journalist’s ‘agonisingly painful’ health condition – ‘I felt dreadful’

Queen's Speech: Huw Edwards discusses 'remarkable' monarch

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In 2010 the loss of the journalist’s father completely turned his life upside down. Rushing to be at his father Hywel’s bedside, Huw was told by the consultant that his father had pancreatic and liver cancer, with his passing imminent. This sudden and tragic event, understandably took its toll on Huw, who thought that he had come to terms with his loss and grief. But in reality, Huw was struggling mental and physically, putting on more and more weight in order to cope with his distress.

“Honestly, it’s like a drug. I’d eat when I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t doing any fitness,” he confessed.

“By 2016, 2017, I had put on a lot of weight. I felt dreadful. I mean, physically.

“I was grazing, watching telly and eating stuff, even though I didn’t need it, which I’d not done before.

“And there are the things that come with it. You don’t feel good about yourself.

“It was combined with a feeling increasingly that I hadn’t properly come to terms with losing my dad.”

Looking back on this time in his life Huw realises that he was in a “proper kind of depression,” that became “rather overwhelming”.

Talking to The Times, Huw candidly admitted that he felt helpless at the time, not knowing what he could do to help his physical or mental health.

“The clincher was when I had to catch a train at Paddington back to Wales. I had to get this train because I was doing some filming and I really had to run.

“When I got on, I honestly thought I was going to expire. I couldn’t breathe. I was sweating profusely. I was soaked with sweat and I thought, ‘What kind of condition are you in?’

“I was 16½st. I thought, ‘Oh my God.’ And then my mum said, ‘Oh well, you know, your dad weighed 16½st.’ And I really thought, ‘Oh my God.’ That started to ring alarm bells.”

It was Huw’s wife that came up with a solution for the journalist and soon Huw was getting help from light welterweight champ Clinton McKenzie.

Against the idea of boxing initially, as he confessed that he could “hurt more people with [his] tongue than with fists,” Huw slowly and surely got into shape.

Training for three mornings a week, Huw shed three stone, which caught the attention of beady-eyed viewers who complimented him on his slim appearance.

Despite going through the hardship of depression, Huw reported to the Times that it had now “totally” lifted. “This is the epiphany, if you like. It was a proper kind of depression about how I felt and where I felt I was, and my dad and everything,” Huw said.

“I felt it had become rather overwhelming. The worst thing was I felt I couldn’t do anything about anything. I felt a bit helpless. But getting physically fit has meant being mentally more robust. That’s when you can up your performance.”

Championing his mental and physical health issues, unfortunately Huw was struck with a Covid-19 related case of pneumonia, causing swelling of his lungs.

Left with “agonisingly painful” limbs and a lack of smell, Huw took three weeks off work to recuperate and rest.

Signs of depression

The mental health charity Mind defines depression as “a low mood that lasts a long time, and affects your everyday life”. Symptoms can vary between individuals, but common symptoms include fatigue, restlessness, irritability and a loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable.

Like Huw, depression can come on gradually so it can be difficult to notice that something is wrong. Many individuals try to cope with their symptoms themselves, but this can lead to depression becoming even more severe.

If you have experienced symptoms similar to the above for two weeks or more, it is advised that you seek medical help. For a free listening service that offers confidential support from trained volunteers, individuals can contact Samaritans on 116 123, or email [email protected] for a reply within 24 hours. Alternatively, individuals can text SHOUT on 85258.

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