Writer Marian Keyes Opens Up About Her Depression

Photo: David Levenson
Best-selling author Marian Keyes has spoken about her battles with mental illness and alcoholism during a powerful Desert Island Discs interview.
The Irish writer of novels including Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married told Kirsty Young that during her depression's deepest trough, an 18-month period beginning in 2009, she thought about suicide up to 40 times a day.
Keyes recalled an incredibly difficult period where she was hospitalised because she was no longer able to eat, sleep or interact with others. "Then the suicidal impulses started and it was very hard physically to stop myself from going through with it," she continued. "For months and months, every day was an enormous effort not to do the acts of wounding myself.”
Thankfully, Keyes told Young that with "the passage of time," her eventual recovery was "really speedy."
"It's an illness and it ran its course," she explained.
Keyes, who now lives just outside of Dublin with her husband Tony Baines, also recalled her battle with alcoholism when she was a woman in her twenties living in London.
"Alcohol was the love of my life. It was my best friend and, in the end, my only friend," she recalled. "I had stopped eating, stopped hoping, I was constantly suicidal. There was only one way it would go. I couldn’t stop drinking and was preparing to go under.”
Writing, Keyes said, was her "rope across the abyss." Shortly after completing her first short story, she entered rehab. She has now been sober for more than 20 years.
After her Desert Island Discs aired, Keyes thanked Kirsty Young and the BBC Radio 4 team, as well as listeners who tweeted kind comments about her brave and powerful interview.
You can now listen to Marian Keyes' Desert Island Discs online. We recently rounded up some of our favourite ever episodes from the BBC Radio 4 staple's 75-year history.
Whatever you're going through, you can speak to the Samaritans for free by dialling 116 123 from any phone.

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