Wales politics

MP Chris Evans on body dysmorphia: ‘I didn’t feel good enough’

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Media captionWorried by "flaws" in his appearance, Chris Evans MP began a dangerous exercise routine

After being hit by a car and going through his parents' divorce, Chris Evans' physical and mental pain had been pushed to the max.

As weight sky-rocketed and his self-esteem hit rock bottom, he started working out.

But what started out as a keep-fit regime, turned into a mental health condition - body dysmorphia.

The Islwyn MP is encouraging anyone experiencing something similar to talk to someone.

"You feel you have a control over something, especially when you feel there are parts of your life that are out of control," he said.

Body dysmorphic disorder is a psychological condition which sees sufferers develop obsessive worries about their perceived flaws - and go to extreme lengths to try and deal with them.

Mr Evans' condition was triggered by months of recovery after being hit by a car when he was 13 and needing a plaster cast on his leg to aid his recovery.

"Naturally I was inactive and I put a lot of weight on," he told BBC Wales' Sunday Politics Wales.

"And that, when you're 13 and 14, makes you very self-conscious about yourself... And then suddenly, when the cast came off, I was looking around and I just didn't feel good enough."

It was already a difficult time in his life, with his parents divorcing and stress building up over his upcoming exams.

Taking cues from his film star idols Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, who had "had everything worked out", his intense daily exercise regime involved waking up at 05:00 to take his dog for a run up the mountain for an hour and a half.

This was followed by another hour-long work out and further long walks and training.

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Image caption Labour politician Mr Evans said he sought inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone as a teenager

"Then I'd check myself out in the mirror - if I wasn't happy with what I was doing, I would constantly just pick one exercise, for example bicep curls, and constantly do them until I was fatigued," he said.

Mr Evans's routine became so extreme that he ended up ripping his bicep muscles. He said he had to stop, and it came as a relief.

"You can sleep again, and suddenly it's not that important," he said.

He thinks society in general should talk about such matters more.

"Everybody's got challenges, everybody's got different problems they've got to face," he said.

"But I think if you're honest and you're open, and you talk to someone you trust, people always try to help you."

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