“For years I was a victim of my own verbal self-abuse… Whilst I have a group of very loving friends and family, my most important advocate is myself.”
After working in marketing for years, Steven Carter-Bailey took the leap of applying to The Great British Bake Off series 8 – his life hasn’t since been the same! Stemming from watching his mum in the kitchen as a young boy, his innate love and talent for baking made him a memorable and much-loved contestant.
After reaching the final of series 8, Steven went on to win The Great New Year’s Bake Off in 2019! Now, Steven is a food teacher, radio presenter, and TV broadcaster, appearing on ITV London News as a special reporter, exploring London’s vibrant and diverse bakeries.
Suicide prevention is a cause very close to Steven’s heart. He spoke with us about how important it is to have a support system you can trust, and to normalise opening up about suicidal thoughts.
How are you feeling today?
I’m tired, and I’m overwhelmed today. I’ve had an unexpectedly busy day and I’m not going to lie, my anxiety is peaking but I’m sipping camomile and writing everything down that I’m meant to get done today and by the end of the week. I’m compartmentalising everything in order to put my mind at rest, but I am ultimately happy today.
What can you see from your window?
Nothing because it’s night time, but I know that the couple over the street are making dinner, they always wave at me and I always wave back. It’s Christmas, well it’s actually long before Christmas but I still have my fairy lights up around the window because they bring me so much joy.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work, but I’m pleased to say that what I feel is important makes me happy.”
What makes you happy?
The older I get, it’s less about material and it’s more about what I have left. I’ve seen tragedy, sadness, and loss, and the older I get the more my friends and family make me happy. Very simple things make me happy, my existence makes me happy – and I know that’s not easy for everybody to feel and it’s taken a lot of hard work, but I’m pleased to say that what I feel is important makes me happy.
We all need support sometimes – where do you get yours?
I get my support from a close-knit group of friends and family whom I trust, and who I know would take the time to speak to me. I spend a lot of time clearing my thoughts and repeating mantras to myself. For years I was a victim of my own verbal self-abuse in my mind, and it formed my opinion of myself, so my simple brain thought “well, if I spent the last 30 years telling myself I wasn’t good enough, perhaps if I started to reverse those words, then hopefully one day I would feel good enough.” I’m pleased to say it works, so whilst I have a group of very loving friends and family, my most important advocate is myself.
“We must reverse these social norms, normalise talking and take away the shame of mental illness and suicidal thoughts.”
Why is preventing suicide important to you?
I have seen first-hand the effects that suicide has on an individual, the family of that individual and extended family, friends and neighbours – everybody that knew that person. I never want another family to suffer, I never want to have to take a cup of tea out in the freezing cold to a paramedic, who has had to witness and be on the scene of someone who has died by suicide. I don’t want to have to watch another loved one go through counselling because of what they’ve seen. I also don’t want anyone to ever feel that suicide is the only option left, because it never is and it never should be.
Why should I join the Ask Now Save Lives campaign?
People who need help the most are probably the ones who avoid asking for it for as long as possible. Society has taught us that strength comes from self care and that the inability to control one’s emotions is a sign of weakness. We must reverse these social norms, normalise talking and take away the shame of mental illness and suicidal thoughts. I ask anybody to, if not be part of this campaign, at least ask someone if they’re alright and be there for somebody who you think might need it.