Archbishop of Canterbury opens up about depression

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has said taking antidepressants makes him feel like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh – rather than feeling much worse.

Justin Welby opened up about his depression and praised how the drugs help him to “react like an average sort of human being” in a series of lectures at Canterbury Cathedral to mark Holy Week.

The Archbishop has previously described how his faith acted as a “safety net” at times in his life when he struggled with depression.

Speaking during his third of three lectures, he said: “I am on antidepressants. They work very well. They restore me to Eeyore status from something much worse.

“As the psychiatrist I see tells me, the aim is not to make me so laid back that I’m horizontal, but just to settle things enough that I react like an average sort of human being.

“I’m sad when things are sad and happy when they’re happy, and so on and so forth.”

The Archbishop also compared himself to the loveable but gloomy donkey in his first lecture on Tuesday.

Mr Welby explained AA Milne’s characters can help clearly explain different personality types.

“(Former Archbishop of Canterbury) Rowan Williams once said to me: ‘There is almost no human situation that cannot be explained with the hermeneutical tools of Winnie the Pooh.’”

He added: “I am an Eeyore, by the way. We will all have moments of optimism, but we’ll also all have moments of pessimism. And there’s nothing wrong with optimism or pessimism, as long as they’re not too determinative of what we do.”

The Archbishop has previously spoken about how it odd it feels to feel the love of God and a “real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself” simultaneously.

Speaking about his depression in a BBC Radio 4 series last year, he said: “My own experience of depression – one of the symptoms of it is self-hatred, self-contempt, real, vicious sense of dislike of oneself.

“And that seems very odd when it combines with also a deep sense that I’m loved by God. And in my life that expressed itself almost as a safety net.”

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