Former Olympic cyclist, Victoria Pendleton, revealed her battle with depression after challenging herself to climb Mount Everest at the beginning of April this year.
Challenging herself to reach the 8,848 meter summit, the double gold medalist was joined by her friend and TV presenter, Ben Fogle to film the ascent in a new three-part documentary for CNN.
However, Victoria was advised by doctors to cut the trek short due to oxygen deficiency - which experts believe could have triggered her depression.
With her coordination severely affected, she described suffering a horrific headache, akin to "needles being stuck in the back of her skull." These were revealed as the signs of hypoxia - common with patients experiencing a lack of oxygen.
Me struggling at camp 2, physically and mentally I still feel the effects. I underestimated and am humbled by Sagarmatha. So thankful for @KentonCool and @Benfogle recognising I wasn’t well #grateful #nevergiveup #itisntinmyblood #anythingispossible #everest2018 pic.twitter.com/dC9cBWN35Y— Victoria Pendleton (@v_pendleton) June 15, 2018
Returning from her climb, she felt "psychologically and physiologically damaged" following the experience.
She told the Radio Times "I've been suffering with depression since I got back from Everest."
"They've assured me that it's [oxygen deficiency as a depression trigger] quite a normal thing and in time it will pass."
"It's really put me through the wringer, and that has been harder than any disappointment about not making it up to the summit. It's like I've taken a real battering. I've never felt so overwhelmed with illness."
Reflecting on her experience, Victoria believes her inability to scale Everest wasn't due to a lack of commitment, focus or fitness, but down to her physiology and genetics.
Victoria Pendleton isn't the only big name that saw a dip in their mental health after taking up a physically-demanding challenge. Singer and actor, Will Young, revealed his battle with depression after quitting Strictly Come Dancing back in 2016.
The pop star said: "Mental illness is mental illness. I was unwell. In the weeks leading up to Strictly, all I could think about was how could I get out of doing the show."
He added: "I knew I didn't have the strength, that I wasn't in the right place and that I would do myself real damage. I actually looked into the easiest way to break my legs so I couldn't dance. That’s how bad it was."
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