Victoria Derbyshire reveals private battle with depression in exclusive interview with Bryony Gordon

Phoebe Southworth
Victoria Derbyshire spoke out during The Telegraph's Women Mean Business Live event - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

BBC presenter Victoria Derbyshire has revealed her private battle with depression for the first time in an emotional interview with Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon.

The award-winning broadcaster said she burst into tears in front of her doctor after admitting she couldn't sleep, was feeling anxious and even doubted whether she was any good at her job anymore.

Derbyshire, 51, a breast cancer survivor, spoke out during The Telegraph's Women Mean Business Live event in London on November 5. 

She told the audience of more than 500 of the country’s most influential business leaders  that she had experienced two bouts of depression, one of which was ten years ago when she had her own show on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Discussing her second more recent episode, she said: "I was getting to a point where I was overwhelmed and waking up at 2am then not sleeping between 2am and 4.30am when I usually get up. I was absolutely knackered and getting slightly anxious. I thought 'I'm not good at my job anymore'.

"I went to doctors and said I wasn't sleeping, and after I'd given the long list of symptoms I said 'but I don't think I'm depressed'. The doctor said 'I think you are'.

"I cried, because when someone's nice and kind to you, you cry. We walked through things I could do to get me out of this period. I said I would like some antidepressants and she agreed, and she said take two weeks off work."

The mother-of-two said she was reluctant to speak to her boss about taking time off because no one discussed mental health in the workplace. But her husband convinced her to compromise and take a week off.

She said: "So I rang my immediate boss and said 'I'm going to have the have the next week off'. She said 'why?' and I said 'because I'm depressed'. 

"She was lovely and kind and said 'of course you must, what can I do to help?' When I put the phone down I was absolutely relieved."

Derbyshire said she slept for "hours and hours" during her week off and felt refreshed when she returned.

"You've got to tell someone, ask for help, open up," she said. "No matter how anxious you are, people are kind - just tell someone and they'll help you."

Derybshire was diagnosed with stage two lobular breast cancer in 2015 when she was 46. She had a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and finished her treatment in 2016.

She told the audience she has a knack for handling moments of crisis and remained calm, despite thinking she was going to die.

The broadcaster, who married her long-term partner Mark Sandell last year, said her thoughts are now focussed on her heavy workload in the next two weeks.

"I'm slightly underwhelmed at the prospect of a general election and the work that would involve - it's a bummer that it's right before Christmas," she said.

Asked if she had any tips for managing stress in the workplace, she said: "I have no ground rules and accept it will be full on and travelling all over the country. But it's a temporary period of time and there's light at the end of the tunnel."

The Telegraph's Women Mean Business event saw scores of inspirational women lift the lid of their secrets to business success. Speakers included fashion brand founder Samantha Cameron, media mogul Tina Brown and actor and film producer Sadie Frost.