He’s an award-winning comic, the writer of eight books revealed in 12 languages and has been named Edinburgh Pageant’s “highest achoffiever of the last decade” for his hilarious stand-up exhibits.
However at instances, 40-year-old Mark Watson’s life has been removed from a barrel of guffaws.
Trying again now, he barely recognises himself as as soon as being a person “incessantly tempted… to do some violence to myself” who skilled “plenty of suicidal urges” in his mid-thirties.
“It’s not straightforward to speak about as when you’re in a greater place it feels odd you might ever have had these ideas,” says the Mock The Week star.
“I recognise it as having been me and all a part of the identical life however, thankfully, it’s fairly troublesome to get again into that state of mind.”
When issues have been at their worst although, the concept of ending all of it stored effervescent to the floor.
“There have been stretches of life during which it felt as if it might simply be good to have the ability to get away from all of it, to show issues off,” Mark says candidly.
“I positively obtained to some extent in life the place I didn’t imagine I had a lot price to individuals. And should you get into that state it doesn’t have rather a lot to do together with your precise circumstances. It turns into a battle in opposition to your personal mind and that’s arduous to get your self out of.”
Mark’s personal web site describes him as “a person vulnerable to appreciable anxiousness and a historical past of p***-poor shallowness”.
However he hasn’t actually spoken about these points off stage earlier than, with out a punch line.
“I’ve at all times been cautious of speaking about it as a result of a number of individuals have far more totally identified instances and I’ve by no means truly had something prescribed,” he explains.
“Anxiousness is nearly a continuing in my life. As a comic, you type of anticipate it – most stand-ups dwell in fairly an adrenalised, jittery approach. It type of goes with the territory. I’ve at all times had low-level anxiousness, which I attempt to plough into my work.
“A lot of the issues I’ve created on the web page or on stage have been a response to this normal anxiousness. However then in my thirties my marriage broke up and I had a grim couple of years of psychological well being.
“Anti-suicide campaigns are likely to say suicide is a everlasting resolution to a brief drawback and that was true in my case.
“I believe what I used to be craving for was a respite from all of the issues in my head – from the pile up of the day-to-day stuff you’re feeling you possibly can’t cope with. Clearly, the solutions ought to be time and assist and different individuals, however your mind generally brief circuits to that sort of catch-all resolution.”
These emotions have impressed Mark’s newest novel, Contacts, which examines themes of male loneliness and suicide whereas managing to be each humorous and tender.
“I believe that is the primary time I’ve instantly addressed how tough life might be for lots of people of their thirties,” says Mark, who grew up in Bristol and now lives in Walthamstow, North East London, with girlfriend Lianne.
The guide is a well timed exploration of the topic, with new figures revealed at first of September revealing male suicide charges in England and Wales have hit a 20-year excessive.
Fortunately, somewhat than act on his suicidal impulses, Mark sought assist.
“I lastly spoke to a counsellor, very briefly, within the interval the place I most likely wanted it most, which was additionally after I was most reluctant to search for that type of assist. It’s a reasonably widespread paradox.
“I bear in mind him explaining that these darkish ideas is usually a type of security blanket – that merely realizing you may have that card to play can actuallystop you taking part in it and aid you go on. That it’s a type of self remedy in a approach. Not a really wholesome one, when you concentrate on it, however it may be sufficient.”
The comedian additionally discovered launch by way of intensive exercises. “Operating was fairly transformative for me,” says Mark, who has two youngsters aged six and 10.
“There’s little doubt arduous train takes me to a spot virtually at all times higher than the place I used to be beforehand. It isn’t a fix-all for everybody, as a result of I believe it is determined by what your specific poison is, psychologically talking.
“For me, usually there’s simply an excessive amount of site visitors in my mind, so whereas some individuals go for walks to gather their ideas, I want the alternative.
“Operating is demanding sufficient that I don’t have the posh of fascinated with anything.”
Speaking to a therapist paved the way in which for Mark to open up extra to these closest to him.
“There was a interval the place I used to be touring so relentlessly I uncared for my marriage, my youngsters, but additionally friendships.
“I drifted away from core individuals as a result of I put work first. So a part of what turned issues round for me was beginning to perceive that correct connections with different people are extra essential than something I would be capable to do by myself. I simply obtained higher at committing to friendships, figuring out who probably the most worthwhile individuals have been round me, studying to simply accept assist.”
This realisation led Mark to attempt to provide an ear to others experiencing related points.
“There’s an assumption in some circles that should you simply maintain banging the drum for higher communication, it should occur,” he says. “There’s a lot sloganeering, so many well-meaning memes and little soundbites – and this comes up briefly in my novel.
“It’s all ‘discuss to a mate, you don’t need to be alone on this’. However if you find yourself within the type of scenario I used to be – and positively the one James, the primary character in my guide, finds himself in – you typically persuade your self that individuals don’t wish to hear it.
“I believe serving to individuals with their psychological well being is about assembly them half approach, somewhat than simply urging them to speak. So on psychological well being consciousness days, which appear to come back up typically, I provide to speak to anybody who needs to on Twitter, and strangers will message me about how they’re feeling.
“It’s a concrete provide, somewhat than simply placing a tweet saying ‘bear in mind, chat to somebody at present’ as a result of that doesn’t at all times encourage the individuals who actually need to do this. Communication isn’t one thing that you just press a button and look ahead to. You need to go the additional mile.
“In addition to, cheering different individuals up makes you’re feeling higher as nicely,” he provides. “It actually works for me.”
5 years on from his personal psychological well being disaster, Mark nonetheless has to work at sustaining his wellbeing.
“I by no means take it with no consideration I’m out of these waters as a result of as soon as you understand your mind can go to these locations, you understand you’re able to going again.
“I’m on a way more even keel now. I’d like individuals to know it’s doable to rework issues – I’m glad in my relationship and my relationship with my youngsters is best – however I’m not complacent as a result of I can nonetheless really feel what that interval was like.
“I don’t take a look at life as one thing the place you may have an enormous setback you battle by way of after which there’s a sort of end line and every thing is nice.
“Happiness is one thing you must maintain working at somewhat than one thing life lavishes on you. It’s fairly pure to generally have large swings between excessive and low.
“These are all a part of the story.”
*No matter you’re going by way of, you possibly can converse to a Samaritans volunteer 24/7 any day. Name without cost and in confidence on 116 123, even from a cellular with out credit score, or electronic mail
*Contacts by Mark Watson (£14.99, Harper Collins) is out on Thursday