Known for their frank discussions about all areas of their personal lives, the Loose Women presenters always have open, honest conversations.
This was true of regular panellist and mum of two Andrea McLean when she bravely revealed her heartbreaking period of postnatal depression, admitting that she struggled alone for two years before seeking professional help because she felt ‘ashamed’.
Andrea explained to her co-stars and their audience, ‘I had postnatal depression for two years before I finally went to the doctors. It’s something I suffered from and hid.’
During her battle with depression Andrea was still working, which she admitted was hard on her mental health.
‘Now what’s really interesting is we’re all really talkative women and I’ve been working on this show for nine years now and I had it while I was on this show.
‘I was literally sobbing all the way home’
‘A lot of people obviously see me and I’ve been in hair and makeup and I’m all professional and I do my job smiling, interacting, being interested and engaged but what I was doing was literally sobbing all the way home,’ she said.
She continued: ‘You don’t want to burden anyone else, whether it’s family or friends, because they’re not necessarily going to understand.’
Something new mums who are affected by postnatal depression often struggle with is the guilt, and Andrea says she was no different.
‘I think obviously there’s a stigma mentioning something at work – I felt ashamed. I’m the “coper” in my family. I’ve always been the strong one. For me this was seen as a sign of “why am I not coping? I had a baby before, what’s the difference?”‘
There were moments when she questioned her role in her family, too, Andrea explained, saying, ‘I felt that my family would be better off without me. I felt that my daughter would be better off without me.
‘I was so ashamed of how I was feeling’
‘Then when I tried to talk about it with various people in my life at the time, [they said] “What have you got to moan about? Your life is amazing. You’re being ungrateful and you’re being selfish.” So you learn to go “Oh okay I won’t say anything”.’
Talking about her experience with antidepressants the mum of two explained, ‘It doesn’t work for everyone and I’m not on them now, but a month later you know when your fuse box goes at home and some of the switches go down, they went and came back up again.’
Andrea added: ‘Suddenly I could see colour in my life again and that’s the only way I could describe it.’
Having come out of the other side of depression Andrea also admitted that sometimes she goes through ‘dips’ but has learned to help herself out of these moments by focusing on her mental wellbeing – as she would her physical wellbeing.
‘I’d never had depression before, but since I’ve had [postnatal depression] I’ve had moments since then where I’ve had dips and I’ve had dark moments,’ she said.
‘But what I do now is I treat my brain like I do my body’
‘I go to the gym because I want to be fit, healthy and well, so now I treat my brain in the same way.
‘If I feel like I’m dipping a little bit, it sounds like hocus-pocus nonsense, but I practise mindfulness everyday, I meditate and I stop and take a step back.’
And it’s not just Andrea who struggles with moments of feeling low, as she admitted her partner has battled with depression too. However, the Scottish TV presenter credits him for helping her through the hard times, saying, ‘I’m really lucky that I have a partner who is 100% behind me and he notices as well when I’m starting to dip a wee bit in the same way that I notice when he does.
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‘He’s a big alpha male and he was too embarrassed to admit that he has low times and between us we work through it together.’
Andrea’s personal revelations came as Loose Women launched a brand new campaign called Lighten The Load, to raise awareness of mental health issues, which is backed by charity Samaritans.
Following her appearance on the show Andrea thanked fans for their positive response.