“I’m a better person,’’ she says. “My whole experience on the show has made me a better person. It’s made me a better mother, a better partner, a better daughter.’’
The sprint star, 31, who is the daughter of Olympic hero Nova Peris, has come a long way from her darkest days, which saw her hospitalised for an overdose on sleeping pills in 2019 after she was forced to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games due to doping allegations.
While she denied taking any performance-enhancing drugs, the storm that followed the positive test sent her to the depths of depression.
“That was my lowest point,” Peris says of the overdose. “I was in an extremely dark place. When you get to that point you feel worthless, you feel as if you’ve got nothing positive to give to anyone.’’
Acknowledging that traumatic period during an interrogation session on SAS Australia led her to discuss it with her 12-year-old son Isaac as they watched the episode together.
“Isaac grabbed my hand and gave me a big hug,’’ she recalls. “It was quite a raw moment, but it put things in perspective. In that moment I thought I had nothing to live for, but in fact I had everything to live for and that was my son. He’s the person that needs me the most.’’
The mum-of-one says it was challenging having to speak to Isaac about the episode, but she made sure “that he knew that I loved him and I would never leave him alone in the world”.
She adds: “I explained to him that it’s OK not to be OK and that there’s people in this world that love you and will help you.”
Down to the final eight SAS contestants and one of just two women still standing alongside fellow athlete Jana Pittman, the athlete says that going into the show she lacked a lot of self-belief, and has been hampered for years by a fear of not succeeding.
“There’s so many things in my life that I haven’t attempted because I feared failure, whereas what I’ve learned now is that only in failure do we grow,’’ Peris explains to WHO. “I’m so much more capable than what I think I am.’’
Happier than ever with her partner Nathan and loving her work at Darwin’s Community First Development, a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community development and research organisation, Peris is ready to see where her desire to compete again will take her.
“It’s sparked a bit of a fire inside of me to make me want to go back and compete on the athletics track,” she shares. “I don’t know whether it will work out in the end, but I would like to see where that takes me.
“I know that it’s not going to be easy,” Peris adds. “But I think it would be one hell of a journey if I did decide to make a comeback.’’
SAS: Australia airs Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm, on Channel Seven.