At Blurt HQ, we’ve all experienced depression in some way so we appreciate the value of the work Ruby Wax does for others. Using her sheer ingenuity and wit, she paves the ways for others like us to speak out about such a debilitating illness.
We were so excited to interview Ruby and she didn’t disappoint – as funny and warm in real life as we’d hoped she would be.
Do you think that you coming forward with your story, helped others come forward and talk about their depression?
I get people from the audience, for about three years people stood up that hadn’t spoke, who hadn’t done that before. Everybody that does it is one step further other people saying it. It’s seen as a secret I think it’s true of the public too.
Your stage show “Losing it” with Judith Owen has been a great success but did you ever have any fears about how it might be perceived based on the stigma surrounding mental illness?
Oh yeah we played it in mental hospitals for a year and a half before we took it to the public so we could iron out stuff that would be offensive.
What is your guilty pleasure?
*chuckles* porno! My friend Erin is here and I wanted to make her laugh.
At this point Dom (who was interviewing Ruby) is in stitches, don’t think he expected that answer
Holidays. It saves me a lot of money on holidays, I feel so guilty for not working.
What are your plans for the future? Have you got anything in the pipeline?
Tomorrow I go to Cape Town to do a show called Lost It which is just me, Judith isn’t doing it and I do that for three weeks and then I am going to write a second show.
What advice can you give anybody starting out in the world of acting and stage?
Oh that’s a horrible one.
With my daughter I say, see how they get on in drama school because that will give you a clue of how good they are. On the other hand it doesn’t really determine it either, but I’d say really test the waters to see how good you are.
When did you first realise that you had depression or an inkling that something might be wrong?
Oh something was wrong when I was a teenager but we just didn’t know what it was so I thought it was physical, well it is physical but I used to kind of go into a coma for a few days, but I was awake so we knew something was wrong but we didn’t know what. They kept insisting it was Mono (Infectious mononucleosis) or glandular fever.
Back in the day, it just wasn’t recognised back then like it is now was it?
No, not at all. Not at all.
What would you say helped you the most with your depression?
Realising that what I had was depression, I was really happy.
How do you cope with your depression now?
Well I do mindfulness. I study it. If I do it everyday then I can tell if it’s coming up. That doesn’t make it go away but I can tell when it’s coming and then re-adjust dials which exacerbate it.
What made you decide to go public with your story at the time when no one else had come forward?
We were doing this show for an institution. Also, Comic Relief used my picture in a public poster, so they kind of did it. I didn’t really ask them to do that.
You had a massive response from the poster, I remember it on the underground wasn’t it?
I was really horrified. Every time I saw it I hurled myself infront of it but there were just too many to hurl in front of so I gave up.
Do you think that we can change the stigma associated with depression and mental illness?
If people keep coming forward. I know they are anonymous in the beginning but if people come forward and then we all have the same idea and then you can change the laws. Unless people come out then nothing is going to happen.
How do you like to relax?
I like holidays that somebody else pays for
Ruby is saying that as she laughs in her cheeky way
It was an absolute pleasure to interview Ruby. We were interested to hear about future plans for Black Dog Tribe which is a website Ruby has been heavily involved in. Black Dog Tribe is a portal of information and support for those affected by depression.
Ruby expressed how she doesn’t want Black Dog Tribe to be thought of as her website but rather run by the people for the people.