Andrew Denton on battling depression: "I nearly fell apart"
Andrew Denton has spoken up about the mental health battle that he has faced since his late teenage years.
Speaking to Mamamia’s No Filter podcast, the 59-year-old TV host shared that he has been having issues with depression since his late teens. However, he only began to understand what the condition meant when he started working on his live late-night talk show Denton in 1994.
“I had started a new two-nights-a-week live show at Channel 7. I was only probably about six weeks into it, and I had to step away,” said Denton. “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.
“That was the first time I was introduced to medication, which doesn’t solve your problem – it just gives you a ladder to climb out of the hole.”
Denton said the depression used to take a hold of him. “It used to be quite debilitating for me; as I said, I nearly fell apart. But when it hits, it can be like a physical feeling. It’s like a chemical wash,” he said.
“When it hits badly, literally getting up out of the chair and walking across the room feels like an enormous effort.”
After years of treating them, the hits have become easier to anticipate, Denton said. The Interview presenter said the waves usually come when he stretches himself too thin or becomes overly engrossed in perfecting his work. “People that have worked with me have often talked about this ... certainly I’m very self-critical,” he said.
“I think [being] self-critical can actually tip over into something which isn’t constructive.
“The most damaging conversation we ever have is the one we have with ourselves, and sometimes you’re not even aware you’re having it.
“To me, we’re all on the tightrope of quote-unquote ‘normality’, and it’s a miracle that more of us don’t tip off.”
In 2017, Denton told Adam Garone on the Movember podcast that he has learned to recognise his triggers for poor mental health since he received his diagnosis in his 30s. “What I do for my mental health – what I know now having been through that more than once – I recognise the triggers and I recognise what puts me back into that position. So, I act on that,” he said.
“The triggers are generally if I completely overstress myself and get very run down, that can lead to that depressive sense.”