Coronation Street star Beverley Callard has opened up about her mental health struggles, revealing that she was left feeling so low that she even contemplated ending her life.
The actress, 59, is known for playing brassy barmaid Liz McDonald in the ITV soap – but says she is nothing like her confident, bubbly alter ego in real life.
Beverley, who took a break from the show once before to deal with her depression, was signed off from work for two months earlier this year when a medication she had been taking for more than 10 years was discontinued, leaving her unable to cope.
She appeared on This Morning and told hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby: “A couple of weeks later, I was still without [the medication], and I thought, ‘I’m fine actually’. Nine weeks later, I completely crashed. I had to be written out of work.
“After six weeks, I was beginning to lose confidence and getting very shaky. It became more difficult to make effort to go out in public.”
Beverley went on: “I totally lack confidence anyway. Everybody thinks actors are so confident, and I’m really not. One day I was being made up for work to play Liz, and I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror. I feel so bad that I cant be this confident showy person Liz is.
“Once you start going on that slippery slope, it’s really difficult for you to talk about it. You feel as though everything you’ve got to say is worthless anyway and you do sink into this black hole. All I could think was, ‘I’m here again’, and you think you won’t get better. I was completely suicidal and couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t leave the bedroom, take calls or do anything.”
She added that she had a new diagnosis: “My psychiatrist, he’s almost 100% convinced I’m bipolar, too…I don’t get these amazing highs where I’m hallucinating almost, but I get the tremendous lows. I don’t get the good bits, I get the bad bits.”
Beverley is coping much better now, with some new treatment: “I’m very good, we saw various doctors. I tried four different medications to replace the one I’m missing. I’m still on HRT, I take oestrogen gel, a testosterone gel – so I’d be good at the Olympics – and two different anti-depressants, one is new.
“There is hope for anyone suffering from it as long as you get the right medication and counselling or whatever.”
Her husband, Jon McEwan, appeared on the ITV chat show with her and has completed a two-year evening class in counselling to better understand her condition.