Denise Welch has spoken about the moment when she was so desperate to bring her life to an end, she prayed for her flight to have a tragic ending, with the plane crashing.
The 62-year-old Loose Women panelist has opened up about the height of her depression, when her son, The 1975 frontman Matt Healy, was just one-year-old and her feelings when they were on a flight to Australia to see her then-husband Tim Healy, 69, who was filming Down Under.
Speaking to Laura Dockrill on her Zombiemum podcast, Denise admitted: “I had made the decision because he was missing his child so much that I would fly to Australia.
“The night before I went, this massive depression came on. I cannot tell you what it was like to go the airport and get on that plane with this depression.
“When I was in the air – I told Matthew this years later when he was a grown up, I would never have put this on any child – I wished that the plane would go down in my mind.”
Denise continued: “I wished that it would, because then I wouldn’t have made the decision. And people might go, ‘There was other people on the plane, how selfish’ – of course.
“It was the point that I wanted something out of my control and I thought, ‘Why doesn’t it just go down and then I will be out of this pain’. Now I can’t believe I had those thoughts.”
Denise said that she first experienced depression in 1989, following the birth of her son, and would wish for her previous life when she didn’t have the responsibilities of motherhood.
She continued: “I just remember thinking, ‘Who is this baby?’ Looking at the baby thinking, ‘Why have I got this baby?’ And within an hour I was in a black suicidal depression and that was the start of my journey.
“I was almost incapable of getting off the settee. I lost two stone in three weeks and my mum had to sit there trying to make me have food replacements.
“I literally used to wait until my medication like I was in a hospital like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”
The Hollyoaks actress added: “The sad thing about life then was it was like a reverse nightmare. I would go to bed, have a dream of my life before a baby and wake up in the nightmare.
“I never wanted to harm my child but I just wanted everything to go away.”
Speaking about having a family had kept her from being pushed over the edge by her depression.
She continued: “Had I not had the family I had, without a doubt, either through purpose or accident, I would probably not be here now.”
Denise has become an advocate for mental health awareness and has admitted that her battle with depression is ongoing.
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The actress had a breakdown in 2005, which led to her pulling out of a pantomime in Stockport, but she feared that her illness would never be taken seriously.
She said: “I was driving to work [on the panto] in the morning and I wanted my car to crash.
“I know I didn’t want to die, but I wanted the pain to be taken away. I wanted the car to crash and someone to take me to hospital and give me tablets so that everything would go away and everyone would understand how poorly I was.
“The most hurtful thing ever said about me was in the local paper. ‘Denise Welch walked out of the pantomime today disappointing thousands of young children.’
“‘But’ – and I will make a fictitious name – ‘Suzie Snodgrass playing Snow White went on despite a broken wrist and kept the audience happy’. That just summed up to me the lack of understanding.”
It has been a gradual change for Denise, who has been sober for over eight years and hasn’t had a severe depressive episode since September 2019.
Speaking about the moment, Denise said: “What I have come to terms with is I have zero guilt now about what happened to me, but what I do have guilt and shame about is how I chose to deal with that with alcohol and drugs.
“I wish I had listened to people more. I wish I’d given up earlier. And I wish I could redo some of Matty’s childhood.
“At least nowadays when I get an episode I don’t blame myself. When I was drinking, I would always blame myself that that’s what’s brought it on. Now I know giving up alcohol doesn’t cure depression but it damn near stops compounding it.”
*If you’re struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or visit their site to find your local branch