'I've learnt to live with my depression'
Having suffered bullying, abuse and depression, talk show host Trisha Goddard knows what it's like to hit rock bottom. She tells how she fought against the odds, and won.
Barely an episode of Trisha goes by without a bitter, explosive argument. There are always tears, usually a confession or two and almost always confrontation.
Some people think Trisha Goddard's daytime show is pure voyeurism, but Trisha isn't trying to exploit other people's problems for entertainment. She wants to help people rather than judge them, and she takes her role of counsellor very seriously. She understands that if you strip away all the anger, you are left with a person who feels sad, vulnerable and lost.
She understands because she's been there. "It all started when I was about 14," she says. "I didn't realise it at the time, but looking back, I went through many depressed states during my teens."
Ironically, both her parents were psychiatric nurses. Her mother was a black Dominican and her father was English and white. "I was bullied at school because of my colour. I wasn't very close to my three sisters and my parents used to hit me. But I used to think that every family behaved like that so, although I was miserable, I didn't really understand my feelings."
For many years, Trisha didn't dare listen to those feelings. Her first marriage, in 1985, ended after nine months. "It was a weird relationship," she admits. "He'd go to work and lock me in the house."
She left her husband and got a job as a TV reporter in Sydney, but career success couldn't cure her depression. Within a year, she was hospitalised. "My depression wasn't recognised and I was given no treatment. That was to cause me tremendous problems later."
Nearly 10 years later, Trisha suffered a severe breakdown. Looking back, she can trace the path to her sense of utter despair. First, she discovered her ex-husband was gay and, in 1989, had died of Aids (luckily she tested negative). Then she found out her second husband was having an affair. They split up, leaving Trisha to bring up their two daughters, Billie and Madi. During that time she was, by her own admission, "a career-driven monster".
"I carried on working, but it was all too much for me," she admits. "I was absolutely shattered. I was incapable of making even the simplest decisions. I just thought I was like everyone else who was going through a stressful time. In the end I was so exhausted I ended up taking a massive alcohol and medication overdose."
Trisha was hospitalised and referred to a psychiatric unit, where she received intense psychotherapy. "Being in that hospital was the lowest point of my life," she says. "I was on suicide watch and the authorities were threatening to take my children away. Fortunately, they didn't."
Her traumatic experience proved a turning point. She quit her job to concentrate on bringing up her daughters and having therapy. She also started working for the mental health services in Australia, which is how she met and fell in love with Peter Gianfrancesco, who was head of Australian Mind. They married in 1998 and moved to England when Trisha was offered the chance to replace Vanessa Feltz on a morning chat show.
It was the start of the good life for Trisha. She now lives with her family in Norwich, but she takes nothing for granted. "My depression hasn't gone away, but I've learned to live with it," she says. "I'm no longer a victim of the illness. Instead, I'm a survivor.
"Exercise and relaxation help a lot," she says. "I have a personal trainer and I also go running with my two dogs. I don't believe much in diets, but I eat natural foods like wholemeal bread, fruit and salads. Every little helps."
There is one person who has helped Trisha more than anyone. "I have great family and friends," she says. "But I've got to credit most of my recovery to my wonderful husband, Peter. I still can't believe how much in love with him I am."
Page last reviewed: 19/08/2014
Next review due: 19/08/2016