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Christopher Eccleston Suffered Anorexia and Depression During Doctor Who

Christopher Eccleston has proved, once more, that he’s a hero, this time by speaking out about the illness that affected him during his time on Doctor Who and the depression which led him to contemplate suicide.

In his new memoir, I Love The Bones Of You, the Ninth Doctor actor writes:

“Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic. I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I’m Northern, because I’m male and because I’m working-class. The illness is still there raging within me as the Doctor. People love the way I look in that series, but I was very ill. The reward for that illness was the part. And therein lies the perpetuation of the whole sorry situation.”

While filming The A Word, Chris was diagnosed with clinical depression. He goes on:

“I was in a state of extreme anxiety, convinced I was either going to die or I was going to kill myself. In my despair I reached for my phone and looked up a psychiatric hospital, I rang ahead, grabbed my bag and ran. I was 100 per cent sure I was in the last few weeks of my life.”

He adds that he still takes anti-depressants and that he does “have an issue with that. I would like to attempt slowly to reduce the dose, to experience reality again, to see how I do…”

There’s not much we can add here, except to say that we support Eccleston 100% and appreciate him speaking out about his feelings and illnesses. We hope his bravery encourages others to talk about this.

Speaking personally, I have such mixed feelings: Series 1 changed my life because I wouldn’t be here without it, but knowing that it’s partly a result of Eccleston’s ill health is a very sad thing. However, it’s also testament to what can be achieved if you persevere. It’s astonishing to consider how many lives Eccleston has touched, so thank you, Chris.

Reality can be a soul-destroying thing, and while it’s great that Doctor Who teaches us to find the good in all things too, it means even more when cast and crew prove themselves role models in everyday life.

If you’ve experienced anything similar to Chris, or indeed if you recognise signs in someone you care about and don’t know what to do about it, there are lots of organisations you can talk to. There’s the Samaritans (116 123); Beat, which raises awareness of eating disorders (0808 801 0677 for those 18 and over, or their Youthline on 0808 801 0711); mental health charity, SANE on 0300 304 7000; the Suicide Prevention App; and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the USA (1-800-273-8255); to name just a few.

Philip Bates

Editor and co-founder of the Doctor Who Companion. When he’s not watching television, reading books ‘n’ Marvel comics, listening to The Killers, and obsessing over script ideas, Philip Bates pretends to be a freelance writer. He enjoys collecting everything. Writer of The Black Archive: The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang, The Silver Archive: The Stone Tape, and 100 Objects of Doctor Who.

Christopher Eccleston Suffered Anorexia and Depression During Doctor Who

by Philip Bates time to read: 2 min
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