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On September 15, 2015 in London I took back control of my life, it was the moment Frank Bruno was reborn; EXCLUSIVE DAY 3: WHY BOXING LEGEND ASKED FOR HELP.

Byline: FRANK BRUNO

FRANK Bruno waited for the gun to sound. Standing at the starting line of the Great North Run, the former WBC World Heavyweight champion was among a sea of bodies.

But he felt totally alone. Unbeknown to the thousands of competitors, Frank was in the grip of a new battle with his mind.

And his world was about to implode. Yet the race set him on a journey to recovery.

Here, in the final extract from his book Let Me Be Frank, the 55-year-old tells of the life-changing moment he was finally able to admit: "I need help."

'THE proudest moment of my career came on September 2, 1995, when I stood in the centre of Wembley Stadium a world champion.

Only seeing my kids arrive in the world had made me feel happier. Then, 20 years later, I stood tall again.

It was September 15, 2015, London's Mile End Road - the moment I took back control of my life, the moment Frank Bruno was reborn.

This time, they weren't putting a belt round my waist - they were putting an injection in my backside.

It was the day I went back into a psychiatric hospital yet again. But this time, I wasn't bundled out of the back of an ambulance. I walked in the front door. And this time, I told them: "My name is Frank. Please help me."

My heart was breaking as I said those seven words.

But I knew I had to do it. My illness had been jabbing away at my mind for months. Dreams of returning to boxing were tormenting me to the point I couldn't sleep at night.

I was avoiding doctors' appointments and I'd stopped taking my medication.

I was being overconfident and making bad decisions. That's why no alarm bells rang when the topic of taking part in the Great North Run in September, 2015, came up. There were only a few weeks until the race and I hadn't been training. But I thought I could do anything.

I started to train like a man possessed. I'd be up first thing to be down at the gym and then I'd be back after lunch.

Some mornings, the alarm was set for 3am for gruelling road runs.

"You can't mug yourself off on race day," my head was saying.

I treated it like a fight.

My head was all over the place, I was barely eating and I was getting two hours' sleep a night max.

When race day arrived on September 13, 2015, I was out on my feet.

I stood at the starting line, staring numbly ahead, unsure what direction I was going in.

My mind was racing, my body was shot to bits.

Ready. "Brunooo, Brunooo, Brunoo," the cry went out from the crowd.

Get Set. "Do this one for 'arry! Know what I mean!" someone shouted.Go!

Bang. The gun was fired. A sea of people moved forward. I felt as if everyone was racing past me. Panic set in. "For Christ's sake, speed up, Frank," my head was telling me. "Go faster." I felt like I was standing on a bridge over a motorway watching cars race by.

I was falling further back with each second. Then finally, at last, the speed of my feet matched that of my mind.

"Brunooo, Brunooo, Brunooo," they shouted. "Thank God," I thought.

Yes, the training was paying off.But then "Arghh!" Agony. A shooting pain down my side and I was down on my knees sucking in air.

"You OK, Frank?" one of the stewards said to me.

"I'm fine, boss," I said.

But I wasn't. I was in agony. Up ahead I could see a lady in a wheelchair competing for a charity. I caught her up and started to push. "Good ol' Frank," someone shouted. They thought I was playing the fool. Back in panto. I wasn't. I was clinging on to the wheelchair to stay on my feet.

My hip had gone -I heard a bone pop - and it was hurting like hell. My body, like my mind, was breaking down.

I should have walked away. But I had to keep moving.

The rest of the race is a blur, I remember the relief when I got over the finishing line, but when I looked up at the clock I was furious. I'd got nowhere near the time I wanted. I didn't want to stick around a second longer.

Yet it was the moment I knew I actually couldn't keep running any longer. The following day, I called my children and told them I needed help and I thought it would be best if I went back into hospital.

Yes. I said those words. "I need help. I need to go into hospital." I made one demand - I didn't want to go in by ambulance. I wanted to walk in and out on my terms. I was willing to surrender, but I wasn't prepared to lose my dignity.

When the doctors sat me down they didn't hold back.

"Frank, this isn't good. For a start, when was the last time you slept?" the doctor asked.

I thought for a moment, until the silence became uncomfortable. I had to admit: "I'm not too sure, sir."

He made clear it wasn't just my mind that had been racing. It was my heart too. Training left me a physical wreck.

"At your age Frank," he said. "If you carry on putting your body through all this stress and strain you are going to end up having a stroke, a heart attack or both."

Each time I broke down, I was moving another step closer to the end. That's how serious things had become.

I had my head in my hands. If I didn't make damned sure this was the last time I ended up in hospital I was putting my life in danger. Coming to terms with my illness was now a matter of life and death.'

After six weeks in hospital, Frank was able to leave. Weeks later, he officially announced his retirement from boxing amid reports he was planning a return to the ring. His focus, instead, was on beating his demons for good.

He accepted more support around him, worked with doctors to slowly reduce the medication he was on and made lifestyle changes. He's now confident, he's a stronger man today.

'IT has been 182 days since my last doctor's appointment. That's how I deal with my illness now. Day by day. Step by step.

Never forgetting what happened in the past, but learning from it. I've now been medication-free for 18 months and my head has never felt clearer. And that is the best thing about my recovery - getting my life back. Managing stress levels is important in keeping my bipolar under control.

I have spent a lot of time investing in my happiness and being kinder to myself, and I have put a good team of people around me. My agent Dave and PA Carmen have been vital in turning my life around.

It took so long for the doctors to agree that I was better off without the meds. I'm now in control of my condition. I've learned to spot the signs of my illness and I am no longer afraid to ask for help.

I am human. I do cry. I have good days and I have bad days.

I worry sometimes that if people see me having a bad day then they will think I'm having another breakdown.

But I'm not going to allow myself to fall again. I have a different suit for every day of the week. I have a nice car, a nice house, money in the bank. But now I have something money can't buy. I have peace of mind. I don't want to die and end up being known as that bloke who kept getting sectioned.

I'll never let my illness beat me.

Now I have my freedom back I do not plan to throw it away.

Let Me Be Frank is available from Mirror Books at the exclusive offer price of PS15, saving PS5, on orders placed by October 19, including free delivery*. Visit mirrorcollection.co.uk or call 0845 143 0001. *UK only.

Extracted by DAN WARBURTON

features@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

With his son Franklin earlier this year FAMILY

WITH THE WBC belt at Wembley in 1995 CHAMPION

FRANK AT THE GREAT North Run in 2015 ALL ALONE

BOXER STARRING in Aladdin in 1989 PANTO DAYS
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 10, 2017
Words:1426
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