THINK of Kelly Holmes and your first flashback is most likely to be of her beaming smile after being crowned double Olympic champion in 2004.

The former middle distance superstar won both the 800m and 1500m in Athens 15 years ago.

But, less than 12 months before grabbing those two golds in Greece, Kelly endured a far tougher battle.

And it was one she kept hidden for quite some time.

“I had a real low in 2003 and I had a massive breakdown,” said Kelly.

“I became what they call a self harmer and your whole life changes.

“I was at my lowest, I was at the very bottom and I just wanted to jump in a hole yet I still ran at the World Championships that year and won silver.

“Half of me had given up but after getting through that I knew I could win in Athens the year after.

“I always knew I was capable of winning a gold medal but it was still a surprise it actually happened!

“There’s no way I had ever dreamed of ever winning two gold medals but I also knew there was no way I could get as low as I got the year before whatever happened on the track."

But, after hanging up her spikes, Kelly opted to make her struggles public.

And, as speaking to me on a Zoom call shows, she remains eager to spread awareness of mental health issues.

"The more you're open about it then it becomes the normality," said Kelly.

"If someone doesn't want to talk to you about it then that's their issue.

"Absolutely everyone will know someone who has been through a bad time or they will have gone through one themselves.

"It's how you recognise it, how you deal with it and how you support the people that you see have got it.

"I first mentioned it in my autobiography back in 2005 and it was hard.

"I was on the front pages of newspapers when normally I'd be just in the sports pages.

"It was a weird time but I'm glad I did it and I speak about it all the time now.

"I'm very open about it and I do think that's important."

Each person will look to try and find their own ways to overcome their difficulties.

And Kelly feels exercise remains the best way to blow away her blues.

"If you’re talking about people’s wellbeing and that's being both physical and mental the only way to really combat both of those is to keep your body active," said Kelly.

"You need to keep moving in some way because then you get the endorphins and the blood pumping around the body.

"You will feel like you’re doing something positive too but I know it can be tough."

And 2003 was not the only time Kelly resorted to self-harming.

"I was up and down with depression, anxiety and self harming but you end up learning how to deal with your environment and knowing what's happening," said Kelly.

"You have to stop before you reach breaking point again and learn.

"I had a big change in 2017 when my mum passed away.

"She had me when she was young and we had a close relationship.

"That broke me and that's the last time I self harmed. I made a conscious decision after that to learn what I needed to do.

"I needed to talk to people when I was low and needed to exercise."

But Kelly does feel attitudes are now starting to change.

"I think what was quite helpful was the Royal family starting to talk openly about it," said Kelly.

"They have a big platform and they're on a completely different level.

"When they talk everyone listens and that helps because there's more acceptance now."

However, Kelly's struggles show you never truly know how someone is feeling.

Many people are facing their own hidden fights and that is one of the scariest things about mental health.

So to anyone struggling please speak out to get back on track, no pun intended!