British broadcaster Davina McCall held back her tears yesterday in Dublin as she candidly told a festival audience about her “dark times" and achieving resilience.
The 50-year-old former Big Brother presenter was at Wellfest this weekend when she spoke to RTE’s Kathryn Thomas on the Well Talks stage.
As she openly shared stories from her life, there were laughs and tears from the packed audience.
Thomas asked Davina if there was one thing that she would tell her 20-year-old self. Davina held back the tears, and paused to give Thomas a hug, and said:
“It’s funny because my 20-year-old self, I just didn’t think it was all going to be OK. And I’d love to go back and just go, you know what, it’s all going to be OK.”
The vivacious presenter said her positive outlook has helped her through hard times, and her struggle with alcohol and drugs.
“Do I have off days? Yes of course I do… usually my off days are when I feel really sad about something or life gets in the way.”
“I think actually my good days, like today, wouldn’t feel so utterly amazing if I didn’t have off days. If I was constantly just extraordinary… life has to have highs and lows, otherwise you’d be flatlining and that isn’t life.”
She said she is conscious of the need to bring children up in a way that fashions them into resilient adults.
She explained: “Generally speaking, I really feed off other people and their energy. People are so great. Everybody that I meet, generally, is absolutely lovely and I’ve never encountered any abuse… and I feed off that. I hope I give that back to other people.”
“There’s a big thing at the moment, especially around bringing up children, about resilience, about how wrapping our kids up in cotton wool, it doesn’t help them. That actually they need to learn tough lessons in life because it will help them later on in life.”
“The stuff that I went through just made me more resilient. My positive outlook means that I really, really hate viewing, I would never view myself as a victim. You know, ‘oh poor me, look at what happened’. I don’t feel like that at all.”
“I was responsible for messing up my life but I’ve also been responsible for trying to get my life back together, and I am responsible for my own destiny. And when I realised that, there was a sense of control, and that I could do something about it, and if I can do something about it, then I will.”
“That’s been very helpful, that positive outlook, and it’s seen me through some really dark times.”
On parenting, she said she tries to guide her children in life by "attraction rather than promotion".
“The minute someone tells me to do something, I won’t do it, or I’ll do the opposite.”
“I’ve realised with the children that it’s about attraction rather than promotion…if I look like I’m having a really good time doing something, then Holly and Tilly will go ‘oh Mum, can we come to that class’.”
The mother-of-three is currently training to become a personal trainer. Recently, she has turned to running to switch off.
“When I go, about 20 seconds into it, I get the joys… and I think ‘why did I delay [going for the run] so long’. Literally for my noggin, exercise is the key.”
“Over the past year and a half, I’ve turned to running to switch off. I put the tunes on and I go out and I switch off… not doing too much, maybe three to five k’s even, but just really pacing it out and enjoying myself. I’ve become quite a good runner.”
“What I’m trying to say is, I was pants and I just thought that I would never be a runner… I used to run and it felt like my bottom was hitting my knees. Every time I ran I would be like ‘oh what is this thing on the back of my legs? It’s so enormous’.”
The star said she recently wrote the book “Lessons that I’ve Learned” for her children. She was inspired to write the book when she realised that there were things that she could now never ask her granny, who has dementia, and her dad, who has Alzheimer’s.
“When your children are right in front of you, you often forget to tell them stories…I look at [my granny and dad] and I think ‘oh my gosh, there are so many things that I didn’t ask you when you were here’, and it inspired me to get everything down in Lessons that I’ve Learned.”
“The kids will have that forever.”