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Be The Change

Tattooed across my chest are the words “Here by the grace of God go I”.  On one arm, “Amazing Graze”, on my other, “we only have this one life”!

Who am I to judge? Who am I in this social media world to cast aspersions and make comment? Who am I to judge another? Who? I have no right, no judgment and no God given right to judge another! None whatsoever! Seriously! Of course I have before, of course I’ve screwed up.  Of course I have said something I should not have done of course I have! Passing comment and being funny in my own head I enjoy but sometimes people read things in their mindset not mine. That’s where it gets awkward!

I’m no PR machine and definitely not scared of standing up. NEVER! EVER! We live in a world where most seem to follow the crowd, do what’s best for them and have no courage to  stand up for what  they believe is right. I teach my daughter to follow her heart, be brave and lead not follow. It’s my experience that this may not make you popular and it may not serve others and their wants and needs but at least we stand but what we believe in. It’s always my lesson to my daughter. But at what cost? I truly belive if you feel passionately about something in your heart and believe it to be the right thing, then do it. I try to practice this but always try to do it from a place of respect, love and kindness. A few years a go I stood up for someone, covered for them. A few years later this person fires me. The irony of this is not lost on me because if I hadn’t and I’d just followed the crowd then she would have been out of a job. Nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes! Now here is the question? Would I have done it again knowing a few years later I would lose so much work? The answer is yes! Why? Because I truly believe it was the right thing to do! Now in this world many people have berated me for putting others before myself, now sometimes they have been right and sometimes they have been wrong. But ultimately we live and learn and I truly believe loyalty is everything.

I’ve had first experience of this which I will expand on in my book. But I have hit a few very low points in my life (we all do) I’ve  stood at the edge of suicide and the edge of greatness and achieving my dreams.  I’ve been blessed and have had and are having so many experiences where I still have to pinch myself.  I have lots of really amazing life memories both good and bad. The point is here at the amazing moments I had more friends than I care to mention, more invites, more texts, calls (ticket requests and meet and greet from “Friends”) than humanly possible. They were my friends and family right? When I hit rock bottom I swear it was like a mass exodus. Did it hurt? Yes! Did it cut deep? Yes!  Was I shocked?  Yes! You see I try to do things for others for no gain for myself, I just love to make people happy – probably why I’ve been comedy my whole life.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and out comes that word again, I am fiercely loyal! In this world of instant social media AND with me not really planning much and just speaking from my heart, I have learnt that’s not always great but I am proud of it! Crowd? No thank you!

Loyalty and friendship when you are down is the greatest of them all. It’s fearless. I have a list of people who never gave up on me, stood by me, supported me, defended me and more so, they loved me unconditionally. Anyone who has been rock bottom and got so low will understand how powerful that truly is.

Because friends, real true brave friends who “Stood up” at not one thought for themselves, I was able to find hope, love and the strength  to climb but not on my own! I was not alone and anyone who suffers from depression, anxiety, PTSD, self harm, drug addiction, alcoholism knows that loneliness  is the killer! Being left with my own head in my bad times was horrifi, truly. But my list of “Angels” stands strong. And that is something I’m very proud of and trust me it’s cost me dearly sometimes but I know what it’s like to be alone and in the hell of mental health. I really do. I won’t expand, that’s for another time but I’ll never walk away.

Let me give you a couple of examples of this.

My long term colleague and part of a double act I’ve warmed up for years and years (and honestly two of the nicest, kindest, funniest guys ever) are now in a real predicament.  Dec will now hold the fort of this country’s favourite double act because Dec will do it for Ant! Dec will stand up and carry his best friend and one half of our national treasure.  Why? Because that’s called true friendship and Declan will own it!  Ant will be in court to face the severity of the law but I want to look beyond this.

Firstly Dec has got this and more importantly so has Ant!

What Ant did was wrong, no question about it but everyone on social media suddenly became holier than though!  I pondered this for a while and crawled through social media to see who was going to stand up by Ant (doesn’t really matter that it’s Ant, it could be anyone!). I looked for the stars, the celebs…… I decided to tweet my support for Ant as I’ve been that low, I knew his place. Why would I not? I got hammered! But here is my point. I didn’t care. I honestly didnt! The BGT warm up man was going nowhere. Why? Because so often in life it’s too easy to protect and support oneself and not others. Those who know me know I never go the easy route! How very boring!

I won’t go on but walking away to protect oneself in life is weak, short sighted and shallow. This has been a huge life lesson for me in life.  I am my greatest critic and I admit I am floored, guess what, we all are!

Today I caught up on Zoe Ball’s epic bike ride for Sport relief. She rode for her boyfriend called Billy. I worked with Billy many times, lovely, funny and kind guy. Billy would ALWAYS have a “Hello” for you and was a talented guy. Sadly, tragically and heartbreaking Billy took his own life through depression.

As I watched Zoe (you can catch up on this on BBC iPlayer) I sobbed all the way through. As Zoe talked about Billy it was like listening to my life story. The depression, the days in bed, the bike in Paris and the list goes on. Mental health is so real and so profound the documentary was, for me, ground breaking, so sad and so inspiring!  As I watched I stared at my tattoos!

Here by the grace of God go I

The point of this blog this week?  It is so easy to judge, make comment, form opinion without knowledge, walk away, think people will live up to our standards, gossip, put down, resent and ridicule! So often behind a keyboard!

Mental health is as serious as a brain injury! Uplift, embrace, believe and love! Be the change and take the different route and stand by somebody. Why not? That’s called love loyalty and friendship, something I experienced recently.

Billy is not here anymore and I know there are many of his colleagues who wish that was not the case. Ant is going through hell and these are only two of so so many people struggling.  Mental health is real, frightening for the sufferer and such a lonely place.

Let’s start the conversation, reach out, talk and understand it’s not a buzz word it’s here and now!  Look out for someone, be honest and know it’s really ok to not be ok. It really is! Have no shame or doubt.  We are in a new world.

Love yourself enough to hold your hand out for help. I did and my life turned around. Amazing Grace.

Take one second to look out for a friend.

Be the change, the love, the difference.

RIP Billy.

Ian Royce
Ian Royce
Warm up comedian to the biggest stars and shows in the world, I've travelled the world on both private jets and ferrys! But that's not important, the importance is I've been to hell and back, faced suicide and the greatest highs in life. I am honest to my core, wear my heart on my sleeve, and not ashamed to say sometimes I struggle


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