Andrea McLean's husband 'horrified' he didn't spot she was having a breakdown

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·8 min read
Andrea McLean says her husband is 'horrified' he didn't notice she was struggling from a mental health breakdown, pictured in July 2018. (Getty Images)
Andrea McLean says her husband is 'horrified' he didn't notice she was in the midst of a mental health breakdown, pictured in July 2018. (Getty Images)

Andrea McLean has revealed her husband Nick Feeney felt "horrified" he didn’t realise his wife was having a mental health breakdown.

The TV presenter, 52, previously revealed she suffered a breakdown and kept “suicidal thoughts” from her husband.

The former Loose Women panellist, who has been married to businessman Nick Feeney since 2017, has shared the mental health struggles she experienced after quitting the daytime chat show after 13 years.

Now she has opened up about the breakdown she suffered and how it impacted her husband, leaving him feeling "horrified" he hadn't picked up on the signs she was struggling.

Speaking on Metro’s Mentally Yours Podcast, McClean explained she had been "pushing herself" too hard when she ended up suffering from burnout, collapsing in tears hours before going live on Loose Women.

"I was getting up at five in the morning, I was in the gym for half six, I was working out, I was pushing myself really hard to be the fittest I’ve ever been," she said. "I wanted to be the most productive I’ve ever been... but there were two things happening.

"One, I was worrying with stress. I was also becoming more and more exhausted. Until the point where I felt like I was short-circuiting."

Read more: Talking mental health: What to say when someone's struggling

She went on to explain that she went on air to do the show but after coming home immediately discussed how she'd been feeling with her husband.

"I was supposed to be on the TV in a couple of hours and I literally fell to the floor and started crying and I was so relieved that someone had called me out," she said. "And what happened next was I eventually kind of pulled myself together and went on and did the show and everything else.

"And then I came home and said to my husband, we need to have a chat. And I told him everything that I’ve been feeling, and I was very fortunate in that I am in love with a human being who is aware of our need for communication and growth as anyone could wish for."

McLean and her husband went to counselling together, pictured in November 2019. (Getty Images)
McLean and her husband went to counselling together, pictured in November 2019. (Getty Images)

Feeney's initial reaction was one of surprise that he hadn't spotted how much his wife was suffering.

"His first reaction was, 'As your husband, I’m horrified that I didn’t see this, how can I love you as much as I love you and not even know that this was happening?'"

McLean went on to explain that her husband advised her that she needed help and should go to counselling and "speak to someone about all these feelings that you're having".

He then suggested they have counselling together, "so that I never miss this again!"

McLean describes couple's counselling together as "a game-changer," explaining that the counselling gave them the "tools" to recognise when there are "bumps in the road" and helped them to know how to approach those bumps.

"You know what to do with it, rather than it feeling like the end of the world or unravelling or becoming something much bigger than the sum of its parts," she added.

"That was a huge turning point for me."

Read more: Christine Lampard on ‘health anxiety’ as a mum – what to do if you’re suffering too

Feeney had previously discussed the impact of learning his wife was struggling with her mental health.

Speaking on the White Wine Question Time podcast, Feeney said: “How did I not realise that she's been trying to tell me?

“I didn't hear it, so it was actually me that said, ‘We need therapy’. And she's like, 'Oh my God, it's not that bad.'

“I said, ‘It's not about that… I need to hear you and I'm not hearing you, so I need to be taught how I can help.’”

Watch: Andrea McLean on having to sell her house during career change

Feeney said that it was really hard to see his wife go through such a horrible time in her life.

“To have seen what's going on – the difference with me is I'm not reading it in a book, I've seen it – and it's just horrendous,” he told host Kate Thornton.

“It's hard – and all I want to do now is just make sure that she never ever goes back there again.”

Having undergone therapy with her husband to help her through her breakdown, the former Celebrity SAS star is in a really good place now.

“I am great now,” she exclaimed. “I am totally great and really, really well, and I would say mentally the strongest I've ever been, because I really genuinely feel like I have looked things in the face that I should have looked in the face.”

Read more: Louise Thompson shares mental health story on video: ‘Most cruel, invisible disease'

Pictured in London, England, July 2021. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
McLean says she's now in a good place mentally, pictured in July 2021. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

How to spot if a loved one is struggling with their mental health

While everyone's experience is different, the experts previously outlined some of the signs your friend or loved one could be suffering from a mental health issue – and what to do if you think they might be at risk.

Isolation

According to David Brudö, co-founder and CEO at mental wellbeing and personal development app Remente, if someone is distancing themselves from their family and friends it could be a sign that their mental health is suffering.

Breathlessness

“We often associate breathlessness with a physical health problem, or just being unfit,” Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental health charity Mind says. “But it could also be a sign of a mental health problem, such as anxiety disorder or panic attacks.”

Read more: Scarlett Moffatt opens up about developing sudden onset tics in Tourette's documentary

Lack of motivation

If it seems like your friend can't be bothered to put in the effort at work it could be another mental health red flag. “We all feel lack of motivation, but if it continues over a long period of time it might be an issue,” advises Brudö.

Lack of excitement

If your friend isn't able to muster up the enthusiasm for much, it could be an indication they are suffering. “No longer pursuing their favourite activities and things they used to enjoy could be an indicator,” explains Brudö. “They may also feel low in spirit and restless,” he adds.

Not being able to sleep or sleeping too much

“Lots of people report sleeping too much or too little when they’re mentally unwell,” says Stephen Buckley. “Sleep and mental health have a two-way relationship: people with mental health problems are more likely to report problems sleeping, and problems with sleep can negatively impact on our mental wellbeing, especially if we’re not getting enough.

“Certain antidepressants can also cause drowsiness,” he points out.

Drinking more

Drinking more alcohol could be a sign that your friend or loved one is under stress or experiencing depression or anxiety. “Many people use alcohol as a coping mechanism but, as a depressant, it’s likely to make things worse, so try to encourage them to resist the urge to their intake and only drink in moderation,” advises Buckley.

Social media withdrawal

If your friend is normally active on social media, but hasn't been on for days, you might want to question their mental wellbeing. “Many people, including those who are normally sociable and outgoing, push their friends away when they’re struggling with their mental health,” explains Stephen Buckley. “But talking about how they’re feeling with a trusted confidante can be really helpful.”

Anger Issues

Is your friend seeing red mist more often than they used to? “Anger issues can be a problem if you can’t control your temper, it occurs often and impacts your relationships,” says Brudö. "Similarly, self-harm or reliance on substances are also clear signs of mental health difficulties."

Bruxism

Grinding their teeth while you sleep might not sound like the most serious of life irritations, but in fact the action of grinding and clenching while you snooze could be a sign of mental illness.

“Grinding our teeth often goes hand in hand with anxiety in the same way many of us often unconsciously clench our jaws when we’re feeling stressed,” advises Buckley.

Where to get help

For more information about mental health and how to get help visit Mind.

CALM's helpline and webchat are open from 5pm until midnight, 365 days a year. Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58 or chat to their trained helpline staff online, it’s free, anonymous and confidential.

You can also contact Samaritans free on 116 123 or view other ways to get in touch with the charity.