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She’s proving to be a popular, entertaining and very funny campmate on I’m A Celebrity. But there have been times when Beverley Callard has not just struggled to get out of bed – she’s even questioned her will to live.
‘I'm quite a feisty female and people view me as a strong woman. Yet There was a time when I truly didn't want to be alive,’ admitted the soap actress earlier this year.
‘When I was depressed in 2010 it was very, very difficult. I felt completely unlovable and I crumbled, and felt like I would never be put back together.’
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Having joined the cobbles in 1989, Bev’s Liz was so iconic she was nicknamed queen of the street.
She had two breaks from the show, once to pursue other acting roles (and continue her career as a fitness instructor, as her campmate Jordan North well remembered) and back in 2010, because of clinical depression.
Bev is one tough cookie. She miscarried at 16 and had her first child aged 18, (she has actress Rebecca and Joshua and three step children Danielle, Jon, and Ben). She’s also lost her mum to Alzheimer’s, battled through three failed marriages and declared bankruptcy.
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Yet it’s her mental health which has been the biggest challenge of her life. At her darkest times, Beverley – who's an ambassador for the charity MIND – wanted to take her own life.
‘My life has never been boring,’ she admits.
‘I have very low self esteem. And that isn’t false modesty. If I have a dip mentally, I can feel so ugly and unattractive.
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‘I knew something was wrong with me but I just didn’t know what it was. Then I collapsed at work. My body just shutdown. I couldn’t take a step and I looked like a 100 year old woman.
'That’s when I had to leave. I had clinical depression and I needed more time off than it would have been possible to schedule so I had to quit and get myself well.
‘I hit rock bottom overnight. My confidence and my personality just totally vanished. I was like a shell of myself. Jon wouldn't leave me on my own because I was in such a bad place.’
Bev takes daily medication to treat her chemically-caused clinical depression. ‘I'll have to take five different medications for the rest of my life.’
Today, she also credits her husband Jon for ‘hanging in there for me, and loving me, and stopping me from doing something awful’.
She's still madly in love with husband number four, recording studio boss Jon McEwan who she wed in 2010, in a ceremony exclusively covered by OK!
Bev credits Jon for helping her cope with the depression. ‘I’m so insecure as a person I would think, ‘Why is he off with me?’ whereas John is so brilliant at it. I’ve found my perfect match. He’s my soulmate.
'The biggest thing depression teaches you is that you can't sit in judgment of anyone, because you don't know what's round the corner.
If someone had said to me 25 years ago, 'You will have clinical depression,' I would have said, 'Absolutely not, not a person like me.'
‘I’ve been so public about my battle because I wanted to chip away at the stigma. It’s just like any other illness, but usually they can cut away the problem, take it out, or put you on medicines.
With mental health it’s different for everyone. We don’t know enough about it yet. It isn’t just one cure for all.
‘You can’t just pull yourself together. And when it’s bad, it’s very bad. Because mental health conditions are not physically visible often people just don’t take them seriously.’
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