How I Learnt to Tame the Voices in My Head; RUBY WAX ON HER BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION; COMEDIAN RUBY WAX'S JOURNEY TO UNDERSTANDING HER OWN MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES HAS BEEN A ROLLER COASTER ONE BUT STUDYING HOW THE BRAIN WORKS HAS HELPED HER DITCH THE SHRINKS AND LITERALLY CHANGE HER MIND.. BY MARINA GASK

The Mirror (London, England), June 6, 2013 | Go to article overview

How I Learnt to Tame the Voices in My Head; RUBY WAX ON HER BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION; COMEDIAN RUBY WAX'S JOURNEY TO UNDERSTANDING HER OWN MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES HAS BEEN A ROLLER COASTER ONE BUT STUDYING HOW THE BRAIN WORKS HAS HELPED HER DITCH THE SHRINKS AND LITERALLY CHANGE HER MIND.. BY MARINA GASK


Byline: MARINA GASK

Being successful, funny, Bglamorous and happily married would sound to most of us like a recipe for happiness. But as Ruby Wax knows only too well, the critical voices in our heads can scupper everything - and for the comedian they frequently did.

Raised in America before moving to the UK in 1977, her father, Edward, was a strict disciplinarian and her mother, Berta, was depressive and prone to fits of rage.

"I'm sure she was loving but she was also nuts," says Ruby. "My mother had OCD and couldn't stop cleaning. And screaming. She was very critical. And usually when you have the critical voices in your head you pass them on to the next person."

Those voices have been in Ruby's head ever since, resulting in "a roller coaster of depression" for most of her adult life.

"I didn't know it but I was even depressed in my teens. I used to go to sleep for a few days at a time. But nobody knew what it was back then."

" For years Ruby, who is now 60, was best known for her brash, larger-than-life personality and a successful acting and comedy career that included Absolutely Fabulous 60, her per act inc an ce Ww and her cringe-inducing celebrity interviews Ruby Wax Meets, nosying her way through the lives and cupboards of Pamela Anderson, The Duchess of York and even Madonna.

She had trademarked her image as a forthright, ballsy American in the mid-80s show Girls On Top with Jennifer Saunders, but behind the scenes and bright red lipstick it was often a different story.

"Jennifer would notice stuff that was weird once in a while, she told me later. I'd lie in bed and I couldn't function, and I thought I had the flu. And she told me I'd say weird things sometimes. But then there'd be five years when I was totally fine," she recalls.

Her marriage to TV director Ed Bye, the show's director, proved a fortunate choice. "I married the guy on purpose. I said 'I'm picking that one cause he's strong enough to be a mother and a father'." She had three kids - Max, 23, Madeleine, 22, but it wasn't until she was pregnant with Marina, now 19, that Ruby was diagnosed with clinical depression and put on medication.

"My kids were hidden from it until they were 16. So when they were younger they thought I was out of town doing my documentaries, when in fact I was being treated for depression. Of course, there were times when my temper was really short but I think my husband stood in front of me so the kids wouldn't see it - unlike my parents who'd just screamed, like it was my fault."

To deal with her periodic lows, obsessive behaviour and panic attacks, many sessions followed with therapists and there were years of medication and stints in celebrity rehab clinic, The Priory. These were kept secret for fear of the stigma of depression and the impact it could have on her career.

Thankfully, taking her own life wasn't an option for the TV star. "I never contemplated suicide, but when you're in that much agony, mental pain is so much more agonising than physical and all you want it to do is stop. So I didn't plan on jumping from a building but I thought something's got to give," she says candidly.

Sick of seeing shrinks, she started researching ways to help herself and started studying psychotherapy and later came across mindfulness, a method of cognitive therapy where you learn to observe the sensations in your body during stress. It helped her gain some control of her brain.

Two years later she toured in a self-penned stage show, Losing It, with the aim of breaking the stigma of depression. It proved a massive hit.

After that followed a two-year master's degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy at Oxford University, which has given Ruby valuable insights into her own psychology. She has now written a self-help book, Sane New World, described as 'a manual for saner living and an introduction to mindfulness'. …

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How I Learnt to Tame the Voices in My Head; RUBY WAX ON HER BATTLE WITH DEPRESSION; COMEDIAN RUBY WAX'S JOURNEY TO UNDERSTANDING HER OWN MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES HAS BEEN A ROLLER COASTER ONE BUT STUDYING HOW THE BRAIN WORKS HAS HELPED HER DITCH THE SHRINKS AND LITERALLY CHANGE HER MIND.. BY MARINA GASK
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