Married At First Sight: Ipswich bachelor seeks love
SIMON McQuillan feels like he's playing catch-up on his life after losing years to a debilitating illness.
The Booval truck parts manufacturer hopes to fast-track his love life on the upcoming new season of Married At First Sight.
The 36-year-old is happy and healthy now, but that wasn't the case a decade ago.
For six years he suffered from severe epilepsy, which impaired his speech and memory. He was forced to quit his coal mining job and live with his parents on their Tallegalla homestead where he grew up.
"I was having 30 to 40 seizures a week," he told the QT.
Simon could barely say his own name, let alone hold a conversation on a date.
"I didn't feel comfortable dating women because I couldn't talk properly and I had a low self-esteem," he said.
"It just took me out of the social sector. I was so scared to talk to women. I used to say to myself, why would a woman be interested in me? I couldn't work and I had to live with my parents."
He finally decided to have a risky brain operation with a 60% survival rate to stop the seizures.
"I was in hospital continuously for years for trials of medicine and the last option was to have a temporal lobe lobotomy," he said.
"A year after my brain surgery I saved up and purchased my first house, and started getting back into what I wanted to do. I feel like I've been playing catch- up for all those years."
After regaining his health and starting up his own business, Centra Balance Australia, that special woman was still missing from Simon's life.
"I've been the third wheel. I go out with all my friends and their wives or husbands and I have to go get the spare chair from someone else's table to sit on the end," he said.
"I did try the internet, but I really never had any luck. People will judge books by their covers. I looked at Tinder and thought it's so easy for someone to look at that one picture and judge you immediately by that one thing."
After years of trying to convince Simon to go on The Farmer Wants A Wife, his best mate Katie helped him apply for Married At First Sight.
He also received his father Peter's blessing before his death two and a half years ago.
"One day we had been at a truck show selling my accessories and on the way home I pulled over so we could get a coffee and I said to dad, 'I'm so sick and tired of working and working and then never doing anything else socially'," he said.
"I said 'I should go on one of those TV shows and see what happens', and he said 'Go for it mate. At the end of the day who gives a hoot what people think of you?'"
The idea of marrying a perfect stranger didn't intimidate him.
"After all the crap that's happened to me over the years I thought this is a walk in the park," he said.
"With all the travelling I've done overseas I thought who knows, I'll just travel with this person for the next six or eight weeks. If worse comes to worse I'll just put it down to an interesting experience."
Married At First Sight premieres January 30 on Channel 9.