Former Married At First Sight NZ groom Dave McClelland has revealed that he had a "horrific year" after the show wrapped.
Speaking exclusively to Now To Love, the Dunedin-based businessman, who starred in season two of MAFS and failed to meet the expectations of demanding bride Julia Malley, says that while his time on the show was tumultuous, it was after the show wrapped that the rollercoaster ride truly began.
"I can't blame the show because through it I found some amazing friends, but it's been a horrific year," he revealed.
"And I was one of the lucky ones. I didn't get any negative publicity."
Dave says it was the pressure that came with being a reality TV star that took its toll.
"I felt like everyone was watching and I wasn't bringing anything to the table, so I spent all my time on my phone [on social media] just trying to be someone I'm not.
"You're approached by a lot of companies. I scored a lot of great products and then every day there's this need to create content about them.
"It was social media that was my downfall," he says.
Dave spiralled into a depression and says at his lowest point he considered suicide.
"I don't think you can get any lower than I did. I lost my business, which is still being sorted out now. I lost my best friend and I went down the suicide track.
"I was lucky because I realised I had an issue and I had friends to turn to. Literally every day after I turned to them I'd get a text or a call or a visit or something so the good news is I came out of it, but I've seen others around me who've gone through with it."
Of losing his best friend, who was a groomsman at his MAFS wedding, Dave says, "I think it got too much for him. It got to the point where he felt I'd got a little big for my boots and I'd changed so much. So he cut ties and I still haven't made amends, but he was right."
Dave went on to give his life a complete overhaul. He rented out his Dunedin home, moved to the Waikato and got a job as a brand development manager for a global company. He is focusing his energies in his spare time on aviation photography, which he has always held a passion for.
He has also shed more than 10kg and says the weight loss has given him renewed confidence.
Dave is still looking for love.
"After the series I had someone close with me who really got me through the hump but for certain reasons it wasn't going to be a long-term serious thing and I've just recently had to pull the pin on that. I've met lots of people but I haven't been in the right head space. Things are a hell of a lot better now. I'm sure I"ll cross paths with that person pretty soon. It would be nice," he says.
While Dave has not stayed in touch with his ex-MAFS wife, Julia, he has remained close with most of the other cast members.
"The thing is, expect for about three of them, we were all just normal people who were genuinely looking for love. I've made the most amazing friends and we meet regularly, we talk regularly - like daily - we're a real tight bunch."
Season Three of Married At First Sight NZ kicks off on Sunday, September 8, and it's already shrouded in controversy with the discovery that season three groom Chris Mansfield is wanted in the US on a domestic violence charge.
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