The ‘stuff’ Dylan refers to is what formed some of the more difficult moments of his time in the jungle.
While explaining to his fellow campmates why he chose Lifeline as his charity, Dylan revealed publicly for the first time that he lost his brother, Quinn, to suicide 15 years ago.
The difficult loss remained an anchor for Dylan throughout the challenges of the series.
“I was sort of not taking it that seriously before I went in … like, I don’t like germs, and I don’t like heights, and I don’t like snakes,” he recounts of his entry into the jungle.
“Turned out those things pale in comparison to when it comes to opening up my soul, and being that real,” he says.
“I’ve never done that in public before, never talked about this kind of stuff … that ended up being the hardest, but the most rewarding part of the whole experience.”
Dylan’s conviction to share was encouraged by his campmates, who created a safe space for everyone in the group to open up.
“It’s a weird thing you wouldn’t think would happen, but I think having all our distractions taken away, and being forced to connect – I mean, we were going to connect anyway, but if everyone had their phones there, we wouldn’t have got those conversations,” he says with a laugh.
“We were left with just real us, and if you remove also sleep and food, then you get raw us and emotional us,” he adds.
“We all went in there with stories to tell and messages to try and get out there, about our charities, and reasons why we have chosen our charities.
“It did feel very safe … right down to the fact that we formed such strong bonds so quickly … a couple of days and we were family, and that feeling is going to remain forever. I feel really lucky to have met these amazing humans from all walks of life,” he says fondly.
WATCH: Dylan Lewis shares powerful message about brother's suicide. Story continues below.
Reflecting on how he managed to handle the many challenges on the show – including being buried alive for 11 minutes in a pit full of vipers – Dylan claims it was perspective that kept him going.
“I keep thinking … we go around in real life and we have our hardships and we get driven, we have our struggles, we get through them, and those bits of life are harder than sitting there in a pit of snakes. It’s relative, I’m trying to keep it in perspective,” he tells us thoughtfully.
“I guess that’s what was going through my mind when I was doing these things like lying in a grave with snakes in my face. I was thinking, ‘oh, this is horrible’ … but it’s 11 minutes, it will be over soon.
“But then there’s the life things that aren’t over, like grief from losing a loved one – that doesn’t finish, ever. So, you’ve got to keep it relative and keep it in perspective.”
Dylan also hopes to use his win to keep sharing Lifeline’s message.
“I think just knowing that there is someone to talk to when you are a hard place is an important message to get out there,” he says.
“Another message that I’ve been really trying to get out there as well is that … it’s not about second-guessing yourself, if you are worried about a friend or yourself, don’t think ‘maybe I’ll be right, and maybe I’ll do it tomorrow’. Do it now and get in there as quickly as you can.
“Don’t second-guess yourself … ring them up.”
As for what’s next for Dylan, we’ll be curious to see if he pops up on reality TV once more, given this is now his second win, after coming in first on Celebrity Big Brother in 2002.
“I only do them every 20 years, ask me again in a couple of decades,” he laughs.
“There’s a few that I don’t really need to do – like Married at First Sight, or any dating shows. And there’s some pretty scary ones, like SAS – which I would hate to do!
“I mean, there’s so many out there … I don’t know. Let’s just see what happens!”
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit their website.