Christopher Eccleston on mental health battles: 'I felt I was going to die'

Danny Thompson
Christopher Eccleston poses for a photo prior to Fantastic! A Conversation with Christopher Eccleston conversation at the New York Comic Con at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for ReedPOP )

Actor Christopher Eccleston has discussed his battles with depression and anorexia in a candid new interview.

The former Doctor Who actor is currently promoting a book, I Love the Bones of You, written about coming to terms with life’s challenges, including his late father Ronnie’s death from dementia in 2012, as well as his own breakdown and battles with eating disorders.

Eccleston says the most difficult thing about the book is promoting such a personal project on magazine shows where they would go from talking to him about something deeply personal, to going “straight from me to a piece about badgers”.

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Talking to The Guardian about his battle with mental health issues, the 55-year-old said: “I’m male and northern and from a working-class background, so you were not supposed to speak about your feelings.”

He went on to admit to feeling “ashamed” about his depression and eating disorder, which eventually lead to a breakdown in 2016 coinciding with the end of his relationship with wife and mother of his children Mishka.

He said: “I do think that the breakdown and hospitalisation changed my life.

“It changed my view of myself and existence. I really felt that I was going to die.”

He also says he suffered with “intrusive thoughts” and revealed he battled with feeling he wanted to be androgynous growing up, though this was something he didn’t consider an option while living in working-class Salford.

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He added it felt “f*****g brilliant’ when he was able to wear mascara for his debut stage play Lock Up Your Daughters at Eccles college as it allowed him to express “on the outside what I felt on the inside”.

Eccleston came to prominence in the 1990s thanks to TV and film roles such as Shallow Grave, Cracker and Our Friends in the North.

He then appeared in a number of Hollywood movies such as Gone in 60 Seconds and The Others before taking the title role in the BBC’s revitalisation of Doctor Who in 2005.