Ian Smith is best known as the cuddly, slightly grumpy Harold Bishop on the long-running soapie Neighbours, but the actor was hiding a sad secret.
The 78-year-old revealed to the Daily Mail that he had struggled with depression since the age of 54, when he learned that he was adopted; his adoptive mother Connie told him just 24 hours before her own death. He later learned that his natural mother had given him up for adoption when she gave birth at just 13, after she was made pregnant by a 26-year-old family friend.
The revelation made him feel he he’d been living a lie for 54 years, Smith told the Daily Mail.
“I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I didn’t know who I was,” he said, of his fall into depression.
He went on to say that although depression was still an issue in his life, he’d since learned to control it with medication and the support of his wife.
Smith left his long-running role on Neighbours in 2009 after 20 years as Harold, but returned in 2014 for the show’s 30th anniversary.
Now, he said, he hoped to encourage other men to talk about their own feelings.
“Men are reasonably stupid – they won’t go and see about these things,” Smith told the newspaper. “But thank God, more and more footballers and sportsmen have started to go to print about things like depression, because hopefully the tide may be turning.”
If you’re struggling or know someone who is, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or at lifeline.org.au.