Beloved ‘Doctor Who’ Star Opens Up About Battle with Depression, Anorexia

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Christopher Eccleston, the first actor to star in the Doctor Who revival, revealed his shocking struggles in his new autobiography. In I Love the Bones of You, Eccleston talks about his lifelong battle with mental illness and disordered eating.

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‘A Filthy Secret’

The 55-year-old actor, best known for his work as the Ninth Doctor, hasn’t had an easy road. “Many times I’ve wanted to reveal that I’m a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic,” he revealed in his book. “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.”

He said that during the filming of Doctor Who, he was desperately ill. The actor’s knife-thin appearance, however, earned him praise–making his eating disorder even worse.

“People love the way I look in that series, but I was very ill. The reward for that illness was the part. And therein lies the perpetuation of the whole sorry situation.”

Eccleston walked away from Doctor Who after just one season, surprising fans who loved him in the role. He described being essentially blacklisted by the BBC, the UK’s main media producer, and facing fan backlash after leaving the show.

Reaching Out for Help

In 2015, following a split from his wife and a major career downturn, Eccleston hit rock bottom. Realizing that he was in real danger, he decided to finally reach out for help.

“In my despair, I reached for my phone and looked up a psychiatric hospital, I rang ahead, grabbed my bag and ran.”

The actor was prescribed medication, and while he hopes to one day be able to reduce his dosage, he’s grateful for the new depression meds. The Emmy Award winner went on to be a regular on the critically acclaimed series The Leftovers and received praise for his portrayal of Macbeth at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He’s Not Alone

About one in three people who struggle with an eating disorder is male. However, men are far less likely to seek help. More male celebrities have bravely opened up about their eating disorders, exercise addiction, and body dysmorphia in recent years.

Game of Thrones star Kit Harrington admitted that, while training for the movie Pompeii in 2014, he was at the gym 3 times a day, 6 days a week. Eventually, he said, “the trainer stepped in and said, ‘Look, you don’t need to go through all of this. This is body dysmorphia now.'”

Billy Bob Thornton, who lost an alarming amount of weight in the late 90s, confessed that he developed an eating disorder after filming U-Turn. “I got anorexic; of course, I denied it to my girlfriend [Laura Dern] and everyone else who said I had an eating disorder.”

Eminem revealed that, after kicking his pill habit, he became addicted to exercise instead. “I would get up in the morning, and before I went to the studio, I would run eight and a half miles in about an hour. Then I’d come home and run another eight and a half.”