Aussie television presenter Andrew Denton has revealed the moment he nearly fell apart as he battled “debilitating” mental health issues during the height of his career.
The 59-year-old opened up about his struggles during a chat on Mamamia’s No Filter podcast this week, explaining how he was forced to put his job to the side for fear he would suffer a breakdown.
Sharing details of the emotional time, Denton said it was during the 1990s when things took a turn for the worst and he had to seek help for depression.
“I had started a new two-nights-a-week live show at Channel 7,” he explained. “I was only probably about six weeks into it, and I had to step away.
“I was close to having a breakdown. And in the two weeks I was away, that’s when [my son] Connor was born. And that was the first time I actually realised that I could – and realised that I should – go and get professional help.”
The father-of-one said it was then that he was introduced to medication, which he explained “gives you a ladder to climb out of the hole”. Denton told podcast host Mia Freedman that his condition was so bad that even normal activities felt exhausting.
“It used to be quite debilitating for me; as I said, I nearly fell apart,” he revealed. “But when it hits, it can be like a physical feeling. It’s like a chemical wash. When it hits badly, literally getting up out of the chair and walking across the room feels like an enormous effort.”
Thankfully the TV producer said his mental health has become easier to manage over time and he has learnt to realise the warning signs that could lead to a downwards spiral. Denton explained having no down time can become a problem as well as being too critical of himself.
“The most damaging conversation we ever have is the one we have with ourselves, and sometimes you’re not even aware you’re doing it,” he continued.
“People that have worked with me have often talked about this… I think ‘perfectionist’ is a blunt term – I don’t actually agree with that. But certainly I’m very self-critical. I think self-critical can actually tip over into something which isn’t constructive.”
If you are concerned about suicide in your family, friends or workplace, contact Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978, Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277 or Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 for confidential support, advice and referral that will help you explore your options.