Alone Australia is the ultimate test of resilience and survival, with Tasmanian contestant Chris being the perfect example of this.
Chris is a retired war veteran who is living with PTSD and managed to last 12 days alone in the Tasmanian wilderness before deciding to tap out on Wednesday night after experiencing a few too many low points throughout his time on the show.
Last week Chris spoke about having PTSD, explaining he doesn't believe it'll go away after suffering a panic attack when he heard a helicopter above him one day.
He began crying, sharing that he was going through "huge waves of emotion".
The reality star knew it was his time to tap out when he realised his mental health was being impacted, telling the crew who picked him up, "Pretty happy about it, you know? I wanted to leave on a high. Resilience is a big thing and I've worked so hard on my mental game over the last ten odd years since leaving Iraq and the defence force and I guess [I'm] realising that there's still a lot of work to go."
He added, "It was great, I was loving it, but then having those massive highs and those massive lows – and the massive highs are awesome, but being out there with the lows, I just couldn't find a way to manage that. I definitely need people in my life."
Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle, it is clear Chris is in a much better headspace after being home, with the reality star sharing he is enjoying being back with his dog Billy.
Speaking about his experience and mental health on the show, Chris tells us, "I've been in sort of those dark situations many times and I know you've sort of just got to try and it's hard to take control, but you just got to kind of, I guess ultimately ride it out and just know that it's gonna be okay. So, yeah, I don't try and fight things too much. Just just let it ride out and it's gonna be okay, it's just how soon that will come is the question, I suppose."
He adds that it would have been great to win the show, but he had to choose his own wellbeing over the $250,000 cash prize.
"But I think for me, it very quickly became apparent that you know, this whole reality show competition and win, that all sort of went out the door and it became this sort of, I guess, this journey for me, and then that's just the end of the road for this experience," he says. "I feel like, you know, I didn't really want to push it too much. So I guess ultimately, I was just like, 'You know what? I'm content. Let's go home and continue the adventures with a few more luxuries.'"
He added, "I guess for me, a big thing out there was you know, like as much as I love nature so much and it's so good being in that environment, but I also realised how much I rely on outside distractions to keep my mind busy. Whether it's just getting in a car or getting in a boat and whatnot. So being in that location, well in any location, but being alone, and then sort of, you know, all these other variables in place, it kind of does sort of make it very hard to keep your head on track and in a positive mindset.
"And then of course, we will have ups and downs each day and out there they are a lot more heightened that yeah, I just tried to keep busy and as you saw jump from one task to another task."
Major weight loss after 12 days alone
Chris was surprised watching the show back and realising that he was actually having possibly the most luck out of the group when it came to fishing and finding trout to eat, but at the time, he didn't realise how good he had it.
"At the time I was out there, I'm like, 'God I reckon everyone's eating pademelons and wallabies and possums,' and I'm like, 'I catch all my food all the time, why can't I do this?' And you know, I was very disheartened thinking that I was really really struggling and I was struggling, but I guess [watching it back] it sort of gave me a bit of confidence that a lot more confidence, I guess. I was doing alright and, you know, surviving."
Chris shared that he started having 'vivid dreams' about food and while he was craving things like pepperoni pizza, the first thing he ended up eating wasn't 'exciting' and he doesn't even remember what it was.
While food was very scarce, thankfully Chris had the foresight to gain 14kg before entering the competition.
"I think I put on 14 kilos, I got up to 112kg maybe?" he shares, adding that he "pretty much dropped all of that" during his 12 days on the show and ended up back to his usual weight.
"That was a big thing, noticing the food on my body, and especially my mind, that change in diet and nutrients, and it has a massive effect, but I had a bit of puddin' on me so that's alright!" he joked.
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.
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