Gary Tank Commander actor Greg McHugh opens up on anxiety battle

Gary Tank Commander star Greg McHugh has revealed how he turned to a therapist after suffering from anxiety.

Friday, 20th October 2017, 5:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 1:13 pm
Actor Greg McHugh takes part in a panel discussion on mental health issues at the Scottish Parliament's Festival of Politics. 20 October 2017. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament Parliament

The 37-year-old writer and actor said he “hit a huge wall” after finishing a live tour of the show.

He recounted the experience at an event on young people’s mental health, telling the audience: “I am still subject to loads of the insecurities that everyone in this room will have, it’s just I’ve been trained to mask it a bit more.

“At the root of a lot of mental health, I think, is this Scottish background, especially the male psyche of hiding that, so I can assure you I have a lot of ups and downs.

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“I might be talking loudly but I definitely have my moments.”

McHugh, speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s festival of politics, said mental health problems were reaching an “epidemic” level.

He said: “I think it is something we don’t talk about enough.

“We are in a generation now where images are inescapable. We are an incredibly exposed society now.

“No matter what you look to aspire to be, you can compare yourself on Twitter, on Facebook.

“I was asked to come here about seven months ago, I had just done a show at Glasgow at the Hydro, 10,000 people a night I played to, the show went very, very well and after the show, I’ll be quite honest, I hit a huge wall.

“I didn’t understand why and I started to suffer from anxiety and nothing really made sense.”

Mr McHugh added: “I’m an actor, I’m a writer and I’ve done relatively well, but I wanted to come here to say to you no-one is immune to these feelings.

“Even though the show had gone well, why did I feel like that? Why did I feel anxious? Why could I not sit in a coffee shop with my wife and my two kids? I could not work it out.

“I think I had been caught in a cycle. Whether you are 37 and a actor or 14 and at school, there is this being exposed to so many things at a constant level that I just got too caught up in everything.

“I got too caught up in my work, predominantly too caught up in my work, and I had no space at all and when I hit this wall I went to see someone, this therapist who was very good and who explained that when we build ourselves up to work on a fight or flight level, I had been working at such a level for such a long time that when I stopped after that final show my brain didn’t know what to do, it just absorbed so much.

“In my case, I think I hit that wall because I had put such expectation on myself, I felt I hadn’t properly achieved it and my brain hadn’t worked out to cope with all that pressure.”

The Edinburgh-born comedy actor is the creator, writer and star of the BBC1 comedy series Gary: Tank Commander. The programme first aired on 29 October 2012.

The actor continued: “I am able to come here and speak very confidently to you about things, and I can project that impression, but it’s because technically I’ve been trained to do that and I’m used to speaking in public.

“But underneath that, I still have all the frailties, all the insecurities.

“I work in a job where I am made redundant every few months and I am back in the market, trying to get another job.”

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