Christopher Eccleston has revealed he’s battled with anorexia for decades and at one point considered suicide.
Writing in his new book, I Love the Bones of You, the actor described himself as a “lifelong body-hater”, saying he was “very ill” with the condition while filming Doctor Who.
The 55-year-old played the ninth Doctor during the show’s revival in 2005.
He said he’s never revealed his struggle before because it’s not what working class northern males do.
“Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic,” he wrote.
“I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I’m northern, because I’m male and because I’m working class.”
From the age of six he was concerned he had a “pot belly” and “knobbly knees”.
The father-of-two was diagnosed with clinical depression after splitting from his wife Mischka in 2015 and says it was then that he considered taking his own life.
“I was in a state of extreme anxiety, convinced I was either going to die or I was going to kill myself,” wrote the actor, who was working on the BBC drama The A Word at the time.
He added: “In my despair I reached for my phone and looked up a psychiatric hospital, I rang ahead, grabbed my bag and ran.”
Eccleston was prescribed antidepressants which he admits he could be on “for the rest of my days”, though he would like to “reduce the dose” as he’s worried the drugs could “deaden my creative side”.
The UK’s leading charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders has praised the actor for his “courage” in speaking out.
A spokesperson for Beat said: “It takes a lot of courage to speak out about an eating disorder.
“Doing so helps to combat the stigma and misunderstanding that exists around these serious mental illnesses, especially for men and boys. We hope that Christopher has received the support he needed and that his bravery will encourage others to seek help, as we know that the sooner someone gets help for an eating disorder, the better their chances of recovery.”
If you or someone you know are feeling emotionally distressed, there are organisations that can offer advice and support. You can call the Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland). Mind also has a confidential telephone helpline – 0300 123 339 (Monday-Friday, 9am-6pm). The Beat helpline is 0808 801 0677 and is available from 12pm to 8pm on weekdays and 4pm to 8pm at weekends and on bank holidays.