ITV News At Ten anchor Tom Bradby said he became “a bit of a poster boy for having a breakdown and losing control” after facing his mental health challenges while in the public eye.
The journalist and newsreader, 55, was signed off work for three months in 2018 after developing insomnia and what he describes as an “addiction” to the sleeping pill zopiclone.
Bradby, who has worked for ITV News producer ITN in various roles for more than 30 years, told how his wife Claudia had warned him he was close to a “very dangerous cliff-edge” and urged him to see a psychiatrist.
He said that at his lowest he believed he would lose his family and job.
Speaking with Craig Oliver, for the former Downing Street director of communications’ podcast Desperately Seeking Wisdom, Bradby addressed his reasons for discussing his mental health publicly.
He said: “I imagine that one of the reasons why I’m sitting here is because obviously, for anyone who doesn’t know, I had a quite public breakdown a few years ago, and I had to go through a very intense signed -off work three months from insomnia and had to go through some intense psychological rebooting process.”
Bradby added: “My fundamental reason for doing this podcast is I spend a lot of my time… because I guess I became a bit of a poster boy for having a breakdown and losing control.
“One of the really nice things about (being open) is people feel able to come and talk to me about when they’re not feeling well. And it just makes you realise, ‘God, how many people out there are suffering and need help?’
“And my fundamental reason for doing conversations like this is you think, ‘well, if I can even help one or 10 people who are listening, who might get something out of it, then that’s great’.
“A lot of people who come talk to you just don’t understand what’s happening to them. They’ve got this terrible anxiety or depression, or whatever it is. They just don’t understand how, why are they’re feeling like this.
“Everything was normal only five minutes ago, and now they feel like this, and what’s it all about?”
Bradby described his struggles with mental health as a “kind of a fever”.
He added: “Don’t you think that’s a good description? Builds and builds until it gets to the point where it’s making you so ill you can’t function anymore.”
The podcast also heard the newsreader recall when he asked for professional help.
He said: “I’d actually already started to see the psychiatrist at (Claudia’s) urging.
“She said, ‘you really need to get proper help. You are close to a very dangerous cliff-edge, and you need to get help’.
“And actually, it was after I went to see the psychiatrist that the real insomnia started. Suddenly everything is coming piling out.”
He said: “At one point, I’m sort of outside our bedroom door, curled up in a ball on the floor, and she’s literally lying on the floor next to me saying, ‘look, it’s going to be alright. Don’t worry about it. We’ll get through this. I don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know what’s happening. You know, you’ve got a very good psychiatrist, we’ll get it out’.
“At that point I was thinking ‘I’m going to lose everything, I’m going to lose my wife, I’m going to lose my family, I’m going to lose my job, I’m going to lose my houses’.”
Desperately Seeking Wisdom with Craig Oliver is available on all major podcast providers. Tom Bradby’s episode is out on Monday February 14.
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