“My name is Christopher David Mitchell. This is the secret I’ve kept for six years”. With these opening words Boy George’s vocal coach today tells of his crash from West End career to depression, and his final triumph in being open about his life-changing illness.
For six years Christopher, a 33-year-old former model and singer signed to a top agent, told no one about his condition: a stoma and ileostomy bag as a result of ulcerative colitis.
Only his family and medical staff knew his secret...but now he’s made a heartfelt and moving online video to describe his battle. He hopes it will help others facing the same life-threatening disease. And it is his way of coming to terms with his own condition that he kept hidden for so long.
Christopher is part of a growing trend among people with stomas who are being more open and up front about their condition. His efforts are being backed by leading doctors at St Mark’s Hospital.
“The hospital that saved my life”, says Christopher.
His video, which contains some graphic images, describes his operations and return to physical health after going down to eight stone and resorting to smoking and drinking. He is also frank about subsequently throwing himself into work and bottling up his experiences with the result that “there was something missing” from making a full recovery. Boy George and Christopher’s other voice coach clients, including EastEnders star, John Partridge, are supporting his mission.
Christopher revealed his secret to Boy George three months ago and right from the start he was supportive. He holds his vocal coach in high regard: “‘Christopher is amazing. He’s taught me some really great vocal techniques that have helped me tremendously. I’ve used lots of different methods over the years but it’s been really exciting to learn some new things”.
You can see the seven-minute video on Christopher’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/chrisdavidmitch/ and a shorter version on his Instagram account https://www.instagram.com/chrisdavidmitch/ and Twitter feed https://twitter.com/ChrisDavidMitch
His consultant surgeon, Professor Omar Faiz, clinical director at St Mark’s, said: “Christopher’s journey would have tested anybody to the extreme, a huge onslaught, physically and psychologically, but he has bounced back very, very high despite all the adversities. I hope this video will show a wider audience that through a difficult journey there’s not just survival at the end, but people also re-build their lives in a way that they achieveexactly what they were going to, and sometimes more.
“It’s a remarkable show of courage and it’s trailblazers like Chris who nudge things along for everybody else.”