Victoria Derbyshire, 51, has revealed intimate details of her private battle with depression for the first time in an exclusive interview with Bryony Gordon from The Telegraph.
The BBC broadcaster appeared in front of more than 500 business leaders at The Telelgraph’s Women Mean Business Live event in London on Tuesday evening, when she spoke candidly about her struggles that she had kept secret.
During the emotional chat, the award-winning journalist said she “burst into tears” in front of the doctor, admitting she couldn’t sleep and was feeling anxious.
She confessed her insecurities surrounding her job left her questioning whether “she was any good at it anymore”.
The broadcaster opened up about dealing with two separate periods of depression, the second bout hit earlier this year, which she admitted was triggered by the menopause.
But she also went through treatment for the first spell a decade ago when she was hosting her own show on BBC Radio 5 live.
Speaking about her struggles, she said: ”I was getting to a point where I was overwhelmed and waking up at 2am then not sleeping between 2am and 4.30am when I usually get up.
“I was absolutely knackered and getting slightly anxious. I thought ‘I’m not good at my job anymore’.
The tenacious journalist recalled visiting her doctor and breaking down in tears.
“I went to the doctors and said I wasn’t sleeping, and after I’d given the long list of symptoms I said ‘but I don’t think I’m depressed’. The doctor said ‘I think you are’.
“I cried, because when someone’s nice and kind to you, you cry. We walked through things I could do to get me out of this period.
“I said I would like some antidepressants and she agreed, and she said ‘take two weeks off work.’”
After recovering from the illness she has since stopped taking anti-depressants.
But the mother-of-two confessed she was worried about taking time off work because “no one discussed mental health in the workplace”.
She said her husband convinced her to compromise and take a week off.
“I rang my immediate boss and said ‘I’m going to have to take the next week off’. She said ‘why?’ and I said ‘because I’m depressed’.
“She was lovely and kind and said ‘of course you must, what can I do to help?’ When I put the phone down I was absolutely relieved.”
Victoria was diagnosed with stage 2 lobular breast cancer in 2015 and went through a mastectomy and chemotherapy before being given the all clear a year later.
The Telegraph reported she told the Women Mean Business Live audience she has a “knack for handling moments of crisis” and managed to stay calm and collected, despite the constant fear of death.
When she took her week off to help her depression, she said she slept for “hours and hours” and felt refreshed when she returned to work.
“You’ve got to tell someone, ask for help, open up,” she said. “No matter how anxious you are, people are kind – just tell someone and they’ll help you,” she advised.
The Victoria Derbyshire Show airs weekdays on BBC Two at 10am.