Dancing on Ice judge Ashley Banjo has opened up about the difficulties of becoming a dad for the second time during lockdown, revealing that he struggled with negative feelings about the world after his son's birth.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Ashley, who found fame as part of dance group Diversity after they won Britain's Got Talent in 2009, said that the first few weeks after three-month-old Micah was born were "tough" as he struggled to balance taking care of his two young children with contending with the changes to his work being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"My wife Francesca had Micah by C-section so we were in strict isolation and she was recovering," he said. "We had our daughter Rose (who is 16 months old) and a newborn. Francesca couldn't move. I was changing the babies, cooking dinner, entertaining the kids. At the same time we were seeing our livelihood disappear.
"The world was changing but I couldn't react to what was happening because I was looking after my family. There was a good five or six weeks where I was like, 'Wow, this is tough'. I felt this overwhelming sense of negativity that I've never felt before. I'm a positive person, I always try to have a positive outlook. I was sitting there going, if someone said to me now, 'Ash, where's the positives in all of this?' I would struggle to find any."
He added that it has been his family who have "helped [him] through it" by spending plenty of time together over FaceTime.
"I realised the world is different but we just have to adapt. As long as we all tackle it together, we're all good," he said.
Ashley, who has also appeared in reality shows Got to Dance and Flirty Dancing, said that being a dad "has made [him] braver" and that having kids makes him feel like "a superhero, because you would do whatever you needed to for them".
A post shared by Ashley Banjo (@ashleybanjogram) on Jun 20, 2020 at 6:31am PDT
Adding that his children have "flipped [his] life upside down", he said that when he can eventually head back out on tour with Diversity he'll struggle to leave his family behind.
"The first day of having Rose, I was like, 'Oh my God, I can't imagine not being hands-on'. From the very first minute it was important to me," he said. "Now I'm dreading leaving lockdown because I've been with them so much. It's going to break my heart.
"Diversity are hopefully touring next year and we might have to isolate in a bubble with the people we're performing with. So, in the new normal for us, there will be periods where I don't see the kids – that's going to kill me."
We would encourage anyone who identifies with the topics raised in this article to reach out. Organisations who can offer support include Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to visit mentalhealth.gov.
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