Christopher Eccleston: I almost lost everything after suffering mental breakdown

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·2-min read
English actor Christopher Eccleston arrives for the 47th Annual International Emmy Awards at New York Hilton on November 25, 2019 in New York City. - The International Emmy Award is an award ceremony bestowed by the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in recognition to the best television programs initially produced and aired outside the United States. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
Christopher Eccleston has opened up about suffering a mental breakdown. (Getty Images)

Christopher Eccleston has said he "nearly lost everything" after suffering a mental breakdown which landed him in hospital.

The former Doctor Who star – who has previously opened up about battling depression and an eating disorder – spoke to The Big Issue magazine vendor Clive, telling him how trying to keep going with his normal life all became too much for him one night.

Eccleston, 57, said: "I think the received idea about people who sell The Big Issue is that they’ve never had a ‘successful life’.

Read more: Christopher Eccleston opens up on mental health battles

“But I discovered that when I had a severe clinical depression and I was hospitalised… I nearly lost everything.

Christopher Eccleston dishes on his BBC 'blacklisting' following 'Doctor Who' departure
Christopher Eccleston played the ninth Time Lord in Doctor Who in 2005. (BBC)

“There was one night I thought I was going to die. I was running down Euston Road with a suitcase.

“Now, if anybody has seen me they’d have gone, ‘Oh, there’s Doctor Who’.

“My point is, I don’t think people understand how quickly it can happen. Particularly in times of economic recession.”

Eccleston – a divorced father-of-two – compared his breakdown to a psychotic episode, revealing it happened while filming the first series of The A Word, which aired on BBC One in 2016.

He said: “I was playing a character called Maurice, who was comic and bluff. I was spending 10 hours a day being him, then I would go back to my hotel room and I wouldn’t sleep.

"I found out afterwards that I’d been in fight or flight for a couple of years and could no longer fight or fly, my brain chemistry was telling me I was about to die.

The A Word: Alison Hughes (MORVEN CHRISTIE), Joe Hughes (MAX VENTO), Maurice Scott (CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON) - (Fifty Fathoms - Photographer: Rachel Joseph)
Christopher Eccelston as Maurice in The A Word. (BBC)

“I wasn’t necessarily going to take my own life. I don’t know whether it would be called psychosis, I was just convinced that I was about to die all night.

“But when 7am came, I would go to work and there would be Maurice’s costume.

“And I swear to you, Clive, I put it on and I was fine.”

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Eccleston starred alongside Lee Ingleby, Morven Christie and Max Vento in The A Word as the grandfather of a young boy adjusting to life after being diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum. 

The third series aired earlier this year.

If you are in need of emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website, www.samaritans.org.

Watch: Christopher Eccleston has opened up on battling an eating disorder

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