Bill Oddie on his battle with undiagnosed bioplar disorder

The former Springwatch presenter tells of how undiagnosed bipolar disorder pushed him to the brink

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Bill Oddie, the eccentric TV presenter, musician and nature enthusiast, has told of a depressive period he went through after being axed from BBC's Springwatch.

In an emotional interview, Oddie said that he burst into tears when he was told he wasn't needed on the programme.

"I was very proud of the programme. I was there at its foundation and I was part of its evolution. A massive chunk of my life was going to be taken away," Oddie said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

"And, of course, it precipitated an awful decline. It became the worst year of my life."

Oddie tried to take his own life twice in 2009.

"A producer said: 'People are scared of you. You're abrasive.' At the time I was flabbergasted, but a year later, after I was diagnosed as Bipolar, I thought back. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have accepted that I was going through a manic phase."

 

Oddie said that, after he lost his job, he started taking sleeping pills.

"I'd been in bed for several days and you don't know what to do except sleep. So you take a couple of sleeping pills - I had them on prescription - and then you take another and another until they're all gone," he said.

"And the emotion was no more than: 'I just want to blank out, to sleep, sleep, sleep.' The next thing I knew, I was in a funny little car being driven to an NHS crisis centre."

His three daughters Rosie, Kate and Bonnie and wife Laura were all supportive. "It’s horribly astonishing that you don’t even think about your wife and family," he said.

"Thirty or so years ago I knew a brilliant young dancer who jumped to his death from a bridge over the Thames. I thought then: 'How could he do something like that to himself, to his family?'

"But all those years later I understood. I thought: 'I know how he did it. It’s all too easy.' It is a compelling blankness."

For advice on mental health problems, please visit Samaritans.org