A man who lives in Bolton is highlighting the importance of talking about mental health after his journey from being suicidal to becoming a bodybuilding champion.

Mike Addison, 31, recently won his class at the National Amateur Body-Builders' Association (NABBA) North West 2023 competition.

He has now qualified for the NABBA British Championships in Bradford, which takes place today, Saturday.

However, it has not been a straightforward journey for Mike, who is originally from Stretford but now lives in Bolton.

He originally competed in bodybuilding in 2019 but suffered "severe" depression and anxiety and tried to commit suicide multiple times.

The Bolton News: Mike at the recent NABBA North West competitionMike at the recent NABBA North West competition (Image: Public)

Now, Mike wants to highlight the positive impact speaking about mental health can have.

He said: “It’s the willingness to talk, to have someone to sit there and listen. It’s only through this prep I know deep down that I’m happy.

“I’ve discovered a future, one in which I’m loved and cared for.

“Yes, I’m on my bodybuilding journey, but if just one other person sees this and it inspires them to go on their own journey.”

He added: “I think the bodybuilding, it’s such a hard ordeal and my anxiety developed from the pressure it brings.

The Bolton News: Mike will be competing at the the NABBA British Championships on SaturdayMike will be competing at the the NABBA British Championships on Saturday (Image: Public)

“I became very negative and very dismissive, I was so focused on trying to perform well on the stage.”

At that time, Mike struggled to balance a new job with the anxiety and insomnia brought on by the stress of training for a bodybuilding competition.

He said: “I couldn’t go to sleep without diazepam.

“I was punishing myself. I got second place in the competition, you’d think that was an achievement, but when you’re not mentally well, you don’t have that sense of pride or accomplishment.

“Everyone didn’t know how to care for me to the point where I was kicked out of the house, my four-year relationship ended and I lost my stepchild.

“I made five attempts on my life, but it was God’s will, he wants to keep me here for a reason.”

The Bolton News: With his best friend, AJWith his best friend, AJ (Image: Public)

After hitting “rock bottom”, Mike began to speak to a therapist to try and address his mental health.

He said: “I’m now strong enough to approach people and ask them for advice.

“It’s the most important thing, just to talk.”

Now, he is back into bodybuilding.

He said: “I got in contact with my coach who prepped me for the 2019 show, we had an agreement if there is one mental blip, he’s going to pull me out.

“The difference is I’m in a better mental state.

The Bolton News: At a bodybuilding competition in 2019At a bodybuilding competition in 2019 (Image: Public)

“I got really upset on the day of the show, I got anxious and nervous.

"But when I thought about it, it was because I was excited for my friends and people from work to see me.

“No matter where I placed now, I had made myself proud – but it just so happened that I won the show.”

Mike also spoke about the impact his new role as operations manager at borough business, Leisure Guard Security, had on his life. 

He added: “I was head of security at BBC at Media City, but I took a demotion to be a security guard, so I could come here and progress.

“Ever since then, the level of support they have given me, the financial support for my shows and attending the shows, they are multi-millionaires, but they’re my family now.”

If you're struggling with your mental health or are in crisis, you can call Samaritans free of charge on 116 123 - they're available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can also find support on their website here (www.samaritans.org).